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 many 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 number 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.
4. Weight loss
Given sweet corn’s significant water content, it is an effective food to help one lose weight. Water works in part as an appetite suppressant, thereby helping to provide a feeling of fullness. This means few calories come with the corn itself, and you’re less likely to load up on them elsewhere because you are sated. If you throw in workouts on a regular basis, the corn will help you stay hydrated, which leads to better performance (and you’ll burn off the water weight, too). Corn’s fiber and protein content can also help you remain fuller, for a longer time period.
The water content of sweet corn keeps coming up again and again, and for good reason. Water contributes to digestion (and so many other things). It helps to lubricate the digestive tract, filter harmful substances from the body, and even evacuates the waste as a key component of urine. It helps create the texture of feces as well, contributing to smooth bowel movements. Fiber, also found in sweet corn, contributes to digestion as well, because it too plays a role in bowel movements. Specifically, fiber is a food source for the intestinal bacteria which help to break down our food.
5. Heart health
Sweet corn can play a role in heart health as well. This is primarily because of the folate that is found in it. Folate is a variety of B-vitamin known for its role in decreasing homocysteine, which is a marker for inflammatory response attributed to various heart diseases. Furthermore, sweet corn also offers potassium and magnesium, two minerals that (among other things) protect heart health by making blood vessels more flexible, which reduces heart strain. A diet rich in these vitamins and minerals can significantly a person’s risk of developing significant heart diseases or suffering from strokes or heart attacks.Related: 7 Signs You Aren’t Getting Enough Potassium
Sweet corn is a lot like bananas in the sense that it provides a modest level of energy along with the nutrients found in it. This means an ear of sweet corn can be thought of as a quick pick me up if you need a metabolic boost. Sweet corn doesn’t leave you feeling bloated, nor does it spike your energy and send you headed for a crash. However, sweet corn does contain a significant level of carbohydrates, and so increases blood sugar by a moderate amount, something diabetics should keep in mind when planning their meals for the day.
1. Anemia Prevention
Sweet corn doesn’t just provide energy in the moment; the vitamin and mineral content also boosts your overall levels of energy by preventing anemia. The blood needs a number of minerals, most notably iron, in order to function properly; iron is key in the formation of new red blood cells, and red blood cells carry those important nutrients to the other cells in your body. A lack of red blood cells, or a lack of nutrients for them to carry, leads to weakness. Vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A and iron boost nutrient absorption, ensuring your body gets necessary resources.
Sweet corn is quite nutritious and delicious, growing more so as it is prepared correctly. Fortunately, it is also very easy to prepare. While boiling is most often the go-to method for corn preparation, many other methods, such as microwaving, steaming, grilling, or baking can also cook the corn. Whichever method you choose, be sure not to overcook the corn; it only takes a few minutes to prepare. Overdoing it can make the corn tough and unpleasant to consume. If you’re curious about corn recipes, there are a number of ways to incorporate it into your diet.
Regardless of how you decide to prepare your corn, make sure you pair it with regular exercise and other healthy foods for maximum benefit. Adding other foods will bring out the best in corn by providing nutrients it lacks, while exercise generally improves the effectiveness of all foods you consume by stimulating the body’s metabolism. Also, keep in mind that keeping corn healthy means keeping your recipes healthy as well; you can’t expect to gain the full benefit of corn if you regularly cover it in salt, sugar, and butter, so neither popcorn nor candy corn should be your go-to method of corn consumption.Related: The Biggest Reason You Gain Weight as You Age Has Nothing to Do with Your Metabolism