There’s a lot of information floating out there on the Internet about corn; like just about everything else, especially when it comes to health trends and fads, it’s a mass of often contradictory information, where one source explains how it’s healthy, and another might refer to it as empty calories. Corn itself, traditionally known as maize, has a long and storied history as a staple food source for Native Americans and many other early cultures. It comes in many varieties, and this no doubt contributes to the confusion regarding this crop. Want to know the benefits of corn? Read on.
One thing that might surprise you is that there is more than one type of corn. This statement is less about the varieties of corn and more about the categories of those varieties if that makes any sense. You may have heard that corn, or more accurately, corn oil, corn syrup, etc. basically makes up just about every processed product eaten in America. This is true, and regarding this truth, the corn that contributes to these uses is not terribly nutritious, or delicious.
The corn used in this way is called ‘field corn’ and by and large is the greater amount of corn produced. It’s used for a variety of applications, but isn’t particularly suitable for human consumption because it is tough and generally not terribly flavorful. Field corn tends to include GMOs, while the other main type of corn, sweet corn, is not. When you think of the corn you throw on the grill or eat at the dinner table, chances are, that’s sweet corn. It’s much easier to eat because it’s harvested soft, unlike field corn. When prepared correctly, sweet corn can be beneficial to the body.
Sweet corn can impart some antioxidant properties, thanks to a specific compound known as ferulic acid. Antioxidants generally protect the cells of the body from cancer-causing free radicals. Specifically, this particular anti-carcinogenic agent has proven effective in fighting the malignant tumors that are associated with liver and breast cancer. Ferulic acid is found in the seeds of a number of fruits, and also in the cell walls of certain plants and grains, including apples, oranges, wheat, certain nuts, and coffee. What sets sweet corn apart from these is the fact that cooking it increases the amount of usable antioxidants present.
Sweet corn, while mostly water, which means it contributes quite well to hydration. That said, it also includes a fair amount of various nutrients that the body needs to not only survive but thrive. Specifically, it contributes a small portion of vitamin A, which is helpful for eye, skin, and hair health; sweet corn also offers a smattering of B Vitamins, which have numerous roles in the body’s health, along with Vitamin C, most notably known for its immune system support. Furthermore, sweet corn also provides a little protein, specifically some of the essential amino acids necessary for human metabolism.