Corn: Be amaized by the health benefits of including it in your diet


Last Updated June 13th, 2021

The history of corn

Corn is the most popular cereal grain in the ideal world. It also goes by the name maize. This cereal grain was harvested 10,000 years ago in the native parts of Mexico and Central America. Though it is conventionally considered as a vegetable, it is classified as a grain. The most frequently used pieces of the corn are the kernel or the seeds because the necessary nutrients are present in the specified parts.

The color of the maize or corn differs depending merely on which part of the world they are grown in. They range from yellow to orange and are also found in black. The seeds of the corn are used in multiple cuisines and are cooked in various ways.

What Makes Corn So Special?

Despite containing various nutrients, they are predominantly composed of carbohydrates and a certain amount of protein and fat.

Similar to other cereal grains corn is primarily made of carbs. Starch remains the main type of carbs present in corn. It also contains limited amounts of sugar. Sugar corn or sweet corn represents a specific variety which contains low-starch and high sugar content, which is fructose. They constituent a fair amount of fiber. The predominantly found insoluble fibers in corn are hemicelluloses, cellulose, and lignin. The fiber content varies based on the variety of corn.

It contains a decent source of protein, depending on its variety. Zeins are the most abundant proteins present in corn. Zeins is a low-quality protein which doesn’t contain all the essential amino acids. It is a low-fat food and its fat content ranges from 5-6%. However, corn germ, a by-product of corn milling, contains an excessive amount of fats and are widely used for preparing cooking oils. The commercially available refined corn oil is chiefly composed of linolenic acid, which is categorized as a polyunsaturated fatty acid.

The nutritional content of corn

They contain numerous bioactive plant compounds which are highly beneficial. It contains higher amounts of antioxidants such as ferulic acid, anthocyanins, zeaxanthin, lutein, and phytic acid. One cup of sweet yellow corn approximately 164 grams contains:

  • Calories: 177 calories
  • Carbs: 41 grams
  • Protein: 5.4 grams
  • Fat: 2.1 grams
  • Fiber: 4.6 grams
  • Vitamin C: 17% of the daily value (DV)
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 24%
  • Folate (vitamin B9): 19%
  • Magnesium: 11%
  • Potassium: 10%

With an impressive nutrient profile, it is a go-to food for most people who benefit by eating the whole corn or popcorn. It is categorized under gluten-free food and is safe for people with gluten allergies.

The Commercial Delicacies Of Corn

Have you ever imagined a movie without a bowl of popcorn? Popcorn is a special variety of corn which is prepared by exposing the kernels to heat. This exposure causes the kernels to pop and explode. They are deemed as the most consumed snack and one of the most common whole-grain foods in the US. They fairly constituent of the following minerals, they are, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

Sweet corn is another famous delicacy. Sweet corns are prepared by adding butter to boiled corn and serving them with exciting dressings. This delicacy consists of pantothenic acid, folate, vitamin B6, niacin, and potassium.

Benefits Of Including Corn To Your Diet

Prevents hemorrhoids

Corn is well-known for its high fiber content. A serving of one cup of corn contains 18.4% of fiber which is the tabulated measure according to the daily recommended amount. Thus, it helps to alleviate the problems associated with the digestive system such as constipation and hemorrhoids. Being a whole-grain, it also assists to lower the risk of developing colon cancer. The dietary fibers present in corn help stimulate bowel movements and in return, they trigger a peristaltic motion in the bowl and enhance the production of gastric juice and bile.

Promotes the growth of the fetus

It is a rich source of vitamin B constituents, especially thiamin and niacin. Thiamin and niacin play a vital role in maintaining nerve health and cognitive function. Apart from providing several vitamin benefits, it is also a good source of pantothenic acid. Pantothenic acid is an essential vitamin used to build carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolisms in the body. It helps to balance the folic acid content in pregnant mothers and prevents the birth of underweight infants. It also constituents vitamin E which is a natural antioxidant that is responsible for growth.

Supplies essential minerals

It contains the following essential minerals, such as phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and copper. These essential minerals are present in all varieties of corn. The phosphorus mineral present in corn plays an essential role in maintaining bone health, growth, and optimizing kidney functionality. While the manganese help regulates heart rate and increases bone mineral density. Apart from containing such nutritious minerals, it also contains trace minerals like selenium which is rare in normal diets.

Protects your heart

The corn oil produced from corn contains sources of optimal fatty acid combination which reduce the risk of heart diseases and help improve heart health. The combination of these fatty acids allows omega-3 fatty acids to free flow through the body and remove the bad cholesterol. The removal of LDL cholesterol helps to prevent blockage in arteries, lower blood pressure, and minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Treats Anemia

Anemia is the deficiency of vitamins and minerals, and result in a significant decrease in levels of iron. Iron is an essential mineral that is necessary to form new red blood cells. It is advisable to consume corn when diagnosed with anemia, as it contains a wide variety of minerals.

Maintains eye and skin health

Being a rich source of beta-carotene, it aids in the formation of vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin for eye health. Corn contains beta-carotene which helps to convert vitamin A and circulate it in necessary quantity throughout the body. The excessive consumption of vitamin A can lead to complications and it is always recommended to derive it through beta-carotene transformation which is ideally suitable for the body. This also benefits skin, mucous membranes, and also boosts the immune system.

Prevent Alzheimer’s

Corn is a great source of thymine, which is an antioxidant that controls and sharpens the brain. It also helps in synthesizing acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is the neurotransmitter or chemical that motor neurons of the nervous system release in order to activate muscles. The synthesizing of acetylcholine results in improving memory.

Prevents diverticular disease

It protects the body against Diverticular disease, or diverticulosis is a formation of diverticula on the walls of your digestive system. The inner layer of your intestine pushes through the weak spots in the outer lining. This pressure, which is caused by the intestines, makes them bulge out, making little pouches. Most often it happens in your colon, the lower part of your large intestine. The main symptoms associated with this disease are bloating, flatulence (the accumulation of gas in the alimentary canal), cramps, and in severe conditions bleeding and infection.

Cosmetic products

Cornstarch is the major ingredient that is used in the manufacturing of many cosmetic products. It may also be applied topically to soothe skin rashes and irritation. Corn products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which are major components of many cosmetic preparations.

Adverse Effects Of Corn

Though eating corn is generally termed safe and healthy, its over-consumption can cause adverse effects and may be of concern for specific individuals. In addition, processed corn products can lack essential nutrients and cause health complications.

  • As a natural source of high sugar, avoid consuming excessive corn as it can lead to elevated levels of blood sugar. People with a history of diabetes should avoid corn.
  • People who are on a fitness road to lose weight should avoid corn, as corn is accountable for weight gain and in severe cases obesity.
  • Eating corn raw is helpful as it doesn’t contribute to losing the nutrients that are lost while cooking.
  • Similar to other cereals it also contains phytic acid or phytate. Phytic acid is a unique natural substance found in plant seeds. It has received considerable attention due to its adverse effects that have been shown on mineral absorption. Phytic acid impairs the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium and may lead to several mineral deficiencies. Though it may not be a major problem for meat-eaters, it can pose harm to developing countries where cereal grains and legumes are staple foods.
  • It is susceptible to fungal contamination. The presence of fungi in corn leads to the production of various toxins, known as mycotoxins. There are three major mycotoxins present in corn, they are, fumonisins, aflatoxins, and trichothecenes. These three substances are widely present in stored cereals worldwide. The excessive consumption of contaminated corn can expose you to cancer and neural tube defects which are commonly seen in newborn babies.
  • Most of the corn crops are genetically modified and may pose health risks. The modified crops possess a natural tendency to fight against pesticides, insects, and diseases or chemicals that are used to kill pests. The impact of modified corn on health has been an existing debate in the field of nutrition.

Cooking Corn

Corn is a versatile cereal grain that can be added to your diet in every possible way. Sweet corn and corn on the cob are the most widely available form of corn. They are available at grocery stores and farmers markets, fresh, frozen, and canned varieties. Fresh corn cobs can be prepared by heating them with the help of a grill or by cooking them in boiling water. They are usually served with melted butter and a coating of salt. The kernels or seeds of the corn are added to soups, salads, vegetable dishes or served on their own with butter or olive oil and seasonings.

The other famous varieties of corn, such as corn flour and dried kernels are also used in several cuisines. Tortillas can be prepared by combining finely ground corn flour with water and salt. Tortillas are a type of thin, unleavened flatbread, which is typically made from corn or wheat. These can be turned into homemade chips by baking sliced pieces with oil and seasonings. Dried kernels can be used to make popcorn on your stove or in an air popper for a delicious and healthy snack.

Conclusion

Corn is a healthy cereal grain that contains large quantities of fiber and plant compounds. It highly nutritious profile enhances eye health and aids in digestion. However, it’s high in starch and can lead to weight gain when consumed in excess. With safe limits of consumption, corn can be part of a healthy diet.


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