The Health Benefits of Corn (Maize)
Corn, also termed maize, is the most commonly consumed food crop in the world. It’s at least 7,000 years old, believed to have originated in Mexico before spreading through the Americas and the rest of the world. Corn is typically yellow, but there are different strains including, white, red, orange, purple, blue and black.
Corn can be classified as both a vegetable and as a grain. It is nutritionally dense, filled with calories, primarily from carbohydrates, and packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber.
Corn can be prepared a variety of ways including on the cob, popcorn, or refined into many different foods such as chips, tortillas. It can also be refined into cooking products such as cornmeal, flour, syrup or corn oil. This video will be specifically talking about whole corn and not refined corn. Refined food products, including corn, have a very different nutritional profile.
It is worth noting that some corn is genetically modified to resist certain herbicides and insecticides, a controversial area that will not be addressed in this video.
Corn is 76% water, 19% carbs, 3% protein and 1% fat.
Whole corn is carbohydrate heavily and composed primarily of carbs. It scores low on the glycemic index meaning it doesn’t spike your sugar as heavily as other forms of carbohydrates.
Corn is a decent source of protein. Protein can range from 10-15% of total nutritional value up to about 15-16 grams per serving.
Corn is low in fat, however it can be refined into corn oil from milling. It is mainly composed of the healthy polyunsaturated fat linoleic acid.
Vitamin & Mineral Content
According to USDA food database, white corn contains
- Vitamin A (7%)
- Vitamin E, alpha tocopherol (4%)
- Vitamin K (1%)
- Thiamin (43%)
- Riboflavin (20%)
- Niacin (30%)
- Vitamin B6 (52%)
- Folate (8%)
- Pantothenic Acid (7%)
- Calcium (1%)
- Iron (25%)
- Magnesium (53%)
- Phosphorus (35%)
- Potassium (14%)
- Sodium (2%)
- Zinc (24%)
- Copper (26%)
- Manganese (40%)
- Selenium (37%)
Other Plant Compounds
- Fiber (hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin)
- Antioxidants (ferulic acid, anthocyanins, zeaxanthin, lutein)
- Phytic acids (myoinositol hexaphosphate)
Note that there is not a lot of research focusing on the health benefits of corn. However, much of it’s nutritional content has been studied and continues to be investigated. In general, the health benefits discussed will be based on the nutrition content of corn and not studies looking at corn specifically.
Corn is a whole grain food. Whole grain foods have been shown to lower the risk
- Heart disease (22%-47%)
- Stroke (14%)
- Fiber, vitamin K and antioxidants
- Blood Clots
- Fiber diets have been shown to lower formation of small blood clots
- Obesity (lower BMI, less abdominal fat)
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Hyperlipidemia (or High Cholesterol)
- Prevent constipation, normalize bowel movements
- High fiber diets tend to reduce the risk of diverticulitis and diverticulosis.
- Examples may include rheumatoid arthritis, gout, asthma, ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease
- Colorectal, maybe others
- Premature death/ all cause mortality
- Because corn is rich in antioxidants, it is likely to help reduce macular degeneration and cataracts.
Eating corn is generally considered to be safe.
Corn does contain gluten, so individuals with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity may want to avoid it.
In certain individuals, grain based carbs may increase or worsen irritable bowel syndrome.
- Corn is one of the oldest grain crops in the world and the most widely consumed.
- One full cup of uncooked white corn contains approximately 600 calories, 8g fat, 123g carbs and 16g protein
- Corn is nutritionally dense filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants
- Broadly speaking, whole grains such as corn lower your risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, digestive health, inflammation and cancer
- Whole grain foods have also been shown to lower your overall risk of death
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