First, you throw away the outside.
Then, you cook the inside.
Then, you eat the outside.
And then, you throw away the inside.
What am I?
Yes, it is corn! Corn is an all-time favorite food of all age groups. Be it boiled sweet corn, warm and buttery popcorn, raw and dressed corn cobs, tortillas, nachos, or cornmeal – this bright and beautiful veggie-grain tastes heavenly.
Besides its delicious taste and texture, corn is the go-to food for various health issues. It aids weight loss, boosts hair growth, and reduces inflammation. To know more about this jack-of-all-trades, scroll down and get started!
Table Of Contents
Corn: An In-depth Insight
Corn (Zea mays) is the edible grain (seed) of the cereal plant belonging to the grass family (Poaceae). This domesticated crop originated in the Americas and is one of the most widely distributed food crops in the world.
Corn is used as livestock feed, human food, biofuel, and raw material in several industries. The most popular varieties for consumption are yellow and white corn.
There are also varieties of corn with red, blue, pink, and black kernels that are often banded, spotted, or striped. That’s the result of some incredible genetic interplay!
There are different types of corn based on kernel texture. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Types Of Corn
Dent Corn: Has a depression in the crown of the kernel that is caused by unequal drying of the hard and soft starch making up the kernel.
Flint Corn: Contains a little soft starch and has no depression.
Flour Corn: Largely made up of soft starch and has soft, mealy, easily ground kernels.
Sweet Corn: Has wrinkled translucent seeds. The plant sugar is not converted to starch as in other types, thus imparting it sweetness.
Popcorn: An extreme type of flint corn that is characterized by small, hard kernels devoid of soft starch. Heating it causes the moisture in the cells to expand, making the kernels explode.
Corn is not only composed of starch but is also loaded with fiber, carbs, mineral, vitamins, and other micronutrients. Check out the next section for its nutritional value.
Nutrition Profile Of Corn
|Total trans-monoenoic fatty acids||~|
|Total trans-polyenoic fatty acids||~|
Yellow corn is the most commonly used variety of corn. White corn has the same nutritional value, with one exception – yellow corn has more fiber than the white variety.
Corn has an interesting phytochemical profile too.
Among cereals, corn has one of the highest levels of phenolic compounds. This means it has excellent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties.
Anthocyanins, coumarins, trihydroxybenzoic acid, vanillic acid, caffeic acid, ferulic acid, chlorogenic acid, hydroxyphenyl acetic acid are present in corn.
Also, flavonoids like quercetin, rustin, hirsutrin, morin, kaempferol, naringenin, hesperitin, zeaxanthin, lutein, and their derivatives are commonly seen in this cereal.
Since corn is a treasure chest of phytochemicals, eating it will give you a total health makeover.
The antioxidants present in corn help cure a broad spectrum of diseases. Want to know which ones?
Alright, then! Brace yourselves for a healthy dose of science and evidence.
What Are The Benefits Of Eating Corn?
1. Controls Diabetes
Hyperglycemia (increased blood glucose levels) results in hypoxia (low oxygen level in blood). Hypoxia gets aggravated when there are free radicals in your blood.
These free radicals or reactive oxygen species trigger inflammation of tissues and undesired proliferation of cells.
The anthocyanins and flavonoids present in corn are potent free radical scavengers. They eliminate free radicals, improve blood flow, protect pancreatic β-cells, increase insulin secretion and sensitivity, and prevent renal failure (3).
2. Might Aid Weight Loss
Corn silk – which is the stigma of maize – is a soft, thread-like waste material that is either green or yellow. Corn silk has many essential flavonoids, tannins, saponins, alkaloids, sitosterol, along with calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
These phytochemicals in corn silk regulate the genes that control fat accumulation, fat cell (adipocytes) differentiation while increasing the rate of lipolysis, and fatty acid metabolism. This can potentially help you lose weight (4).
However, many papers have demonstrated the role of corn and its starch in weight gain and obesity (5).
3. Could Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation is your body’s way of responding to threats like pathogens, free radicals, heavy metals, toxic intermediates, overdose, deficiency, external stimuli, and any other unfavorable physiological stress.
The proteins and phytochemicals present in different part of maize offer protection to your body from such pro-inflammatory agents. Corn gluten is one such protein. Flavonoids like quercetin, naringenin, and lutein, along with anthocyanins, also inhibit the activation of several pro-inflammatory genes and cellular mechanisms (7).
As per this theory, a corn-rich diet can reduce constipation, asthma, arthritis, irritable bowel disease, GERD, and dermatitis.
However, there is extensive evidence out there that shows corn is a pro-inflammatory agent. Blame the starch and fats!
4. Boosts Iron levels
Anemia develops as a result of iron deficiency in your body. A fall in hemoglobin levels leads to several developmental issues. Anemic children have stunted growth, retarded cognitive and psychomotor development, and weak/underdeveloped immune system.
Iron plays a vital role in oxygen and nutrient transport, energy metabolism, and menstruation.
You must have noticed in the nutritional profile of corn that it contains iron in abundance.
Adding maize or corn derivatives to your diet in required amounts can solve issues related to anemia, particularly in children and women. Having optimum iron in your body is also essential for the health of your eyes, hair, and skin (8).
5. Enhances Endurance And Physique
All scientists agree that carbohydrates are the best fuel for your body during prolonged exercise. Our hero – corn – oozes carbs.
What’s even better is that corn has a moderate glycemic index of about 56 to 69.
The fiber and carbs present in corn help in building your dream body. Though carbs digest quickly compared to protein or fat, they can be stored in your cells for a long time without triggering inflammation. Therefore, corn is the solution, especially for athletes and regular heavy-duty gymmers (9).
6. Improves Vision
Lutein and zeaxanthin are two carotenoids that play an important role in vision development. Deficiency of these carotenoids causes cataract, macular degeneration, and age-related ophthalmologic disorders.
Corn contains 21.9 μgg of lutein and 10.3 μg/g of zeaxanthin, along with ß-cryptoxanthin and ß-carotene.
When white, yellow, high-carotenoid, blue and red corns were tested for their lutein content, it was found to be the highest in yellow corn (406 µg/100 g) and lowest in blue and white corns (5.2 and 5.7 µg/100 g, respectively) (10).
Want to get rid of those thick spectacles? Binge on some fresh corn.
What’s the best way to have corn? By adding it to your daily diet, of course. I’ve collected some simple, quick, and healthy recipes with corn for you. Let’s see how they turn out!
Healthy Recipes With Corn
1. Tangy Corn Salsa
- Corn on the cob: 4 ears, with husk
- Black beans: 2 cans (15 oz.), unsalted, drained, and rinsed
- Plum tomatoes: 6, chopped
- Green bell pepper: 1, chopped
- Red onion: 1, diced
- Jalapeno peppers: 2, chopped
- Lime juice: 1 lime (equivalent)
- Cilantro: 2 teaspoons, freshly chopped
- Garlic: 2 cloves, minced
- Tomato juice: 14 oz.
- Tomato sauce: 14 oz.
- Kosher salt: 1 pinch or to taste
- Black pepper: 1 pinch, ground, or to taste
Let’s Make It!
- Preheat the grill on medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
- Place the corn ears on the heated grill and roast them until the husks show burn marks on all sides, and the corn kernels are cooked through.
- This could take about 20 minutes. Keep turning the corn ears at regular intervals.
- Let the corn ears cool down until they can be touched.
- Pull back the husks and remove the roasted kernels from the ears. Place the cooked kernels in a large salad bowl.
- Lightly toss the corn with black beans, plum tomatoes, green bell pepper, red onion, jalapeno peppers, lime juice, cilantro, and garlic.
- Pour the tomato juice and tomato sauce over the salsa and toss all the veggies again.
- Season the salsa with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Chill the salsa for at least an hour, preferably overnight.
- Serve it along with some crispy nachos or tortillas.
2. Quick-n-Creamy Corn Cake
- Butter: ½ cup, melted
- Eggs: 2, beaten
- Dry cornbread mix: 1 packet (8.5 oz)
- Whole kernel corn: 1 can (15 oz), drained
- Creamed corn: 1 can (14.75 oz)
- Sour cream: 1 cup
Let’s Make It!
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C), and lightly grease a 9×9 inch baking dish.
- In a medium bowl, combine the butter, eggs, corn bread mix, whole corn, creamed corn, and sour cream.
- Spoon the mixture into the prepared baking dish.
- Bake the mix in the preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the top is golden brown.
- Serve fresh and warm with some cranberry crush or homemade cream.
Once you taste these dishes, you will not want to stop cooking and experimenting with corn. Corn is one of the tastiest additions to any dish.
But does that mean you should have it every day? How do you think your body would react to high doses of corn? Read on to find out.
Does Corn Have Any Side Effects?
Yes, it does!
The high starch, fatty acids, and linoleic acid content of corn can cause the following side effects:
- Stomach cramps
- Acute dermatitis or skin allergy (if you are allergic to grass)
- Bloating and gas
- Intestinal blockage
- Sudden weight gain
Corn is one of the finest vegetable grains that is wholesome and tasty. The starch, essential fats, and fiber in it help in protecting the vital organs in your body.
Anthocyanins and carotenoids are plentiful in corn, which makes it a healthy source of natural antioxidants.
However, just because something is good does not mean having it in excess amounts is a great idea!
Keep a watch on how much corn you are ingesting daily. Its starch and fiber can lead to the harmful effects listed above. And you don’t want to associate corn with a lousy gut!
One more thing to remember is that each person has their own capacity for digesting corn. Plan your meals according to your ability, not by blindly following a googled diet chart.
Please share your comments, suggestions, and more fun recipes with corn.
Use the comments box below.
Happy corn popping!
- “Effects of dietary corn on hematological…” The Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine