The Case For Corn

The Case For Corn

In the summer you can’t beat corn-on-the cob, such a delicious healthy treat.  You can cook corn-on-the cob on your grill, in boiling water on your stove top or in your microwave in a brown paper bag.  And who can resist popcorn?  My absolute favorite snack of all time!  You can find corn in your grocery store all year long either frozen or canned.  Sweet corn, yellow corn or creamed corn, how can you go wrong?   You can even make cornbread which goes with anything.  My Dad loved cornbread and milk as a before bed snack.  So, what’s not to like about corn?

The History of Corn:

People in central Mexico were eating maize or corn 7,000 years ago.  The spread of corn then moved north into the United States and south to Peru.  Columbus brought some back to Spain which facilitated the spread of corn throughout western Europe.

Fun Facts:

40% of corn grown in the US is used for fuel

60-70% of corn worldwide is used for animal feed

The corn seeds used for popcorn are whole grain.

Corn comes in a variety of colors:  white, yellow, red, purple, blue and multi.

Is corn a vegetable or a grain?

Both, corn is both a vegetable and a grain!  Corn is a starchy vegetable and a cereal grain that is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Nutrition from Corn:

Corn is full of health benefits and nutrition.

  • Contains Fiber – Aiding Digestion – 2 grams to every ½ cup serving – A diet high in fiber can help lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar.  The fiber in corn may also reduce your risk of diverticular disease.
  • Folate (vitamin B9)
  • Thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • Phosphorus
  • Vitamin C – Repairs cells and boosts immunity.
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium – Aids in nerve function and muscle contraction.
  • Carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin)– promote eye health prevent cataracts and AMD age-related macular degeneration

Corn is a well rounded food source containing carbohydrates, protein, fat and fiber.  In one cup of sweet yellow corn you will get:

  • Carbs: 41 grams Corn is high in starch, which is a type of complex carbohydrate that supports steady energy levels
  • Protein 5.4 grams A fairly high amount of protein for a vegetable.
  • Fat 2.1 grams
  • Fiber 4.6 grams

Corn is high in carbohydrates, low in fat, and high in fiber.  Carbohydrates can quickly raise your blood sugar, however, corn is also high in fiber which can balance blood sugar levels.

Corn is gluten-free.  Gluten free corn and corn flour can be used as a substitute for wheat products.

Corn is high in insoluble fiber – this is the fiber that goes through the body intact.  This aids bowel movements, which can be a good thing.  Insoluble fiber also feeds the good bacteria in your gut.  So, this could be a win win.

The starch in corn is a complex carbohydrate that supports steady energy levels.

Allergies to corn and corn products are very rare.

Calories from Corn:

Corn can be a part of a healthy eating plan.

One cup of sweet yellow corn = 177 calories

One medium ear of corn contains about 88 calories and 19 grams of carbohydrate

One large ear has about 127 calories which is about the same calories as a banana

Corn has less sugar than a banana and more protein and fiber.

Corn is naturally sweet.  As long as you don’t add to much butter to your corn it will be low in calories.  One ear counts as a serving of vegetables.

Whole corn and popcorn can be essential in a balanced diet.

Where can corn be found?

Corn is found in many products on your grocery store shelves:  cereal, tortillas, polenta, chips, cornmeal,  grits, corn oil, and corn syrup. Don’t forget, the produce department, the canned vegetable aisle or the frozen vegetable section of your grocery stores.  Many farmers markets and road side stands have corn for sale in the summer months.

Chips, oil and syrup are processed foods made with corn.  This defeats the benefits by lowering the fiber content and reduction in nutrients when produced.

Things to Watch Out For:

High Fructose Corn Syrup – You do want to stay away from high fructose corn syrup.  This syrup is made from corn syrup but is metabolized by your body differently.  High fructose corn syrup has been linked to insulin resistance, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Genetically Modified Corn – Most corn is genetically modified.  No conclusive evidence is available if this harms health.  But if you are concerned stick with non-GMO corn.  The corn in the produce section of your grocery is probably no GMO corn.  Genetically modified products cannot be labeled organic in the US.

Most genetically modified corn is fed to animals.  But if you are eliminating GMO products from your diet, look for non-GMO on the label or organic.

GMO foods are Genetically Modified Organisms.  When it comes to corn this means that the corns seeds have been modified in a lb before being planted.  The idea is to make the corn resistant to the things that can harm a crop like; weeds, insects and rodents.  The health worry is that this can then alter the benefits of the actual food and may cause harm to our gut, hormones, antibiotic resistance and increase aging.

Carbohydrates – If you need to watch you carbohydrate intake, then you need to limit the amount of corn you consume.

Blood Sugar – If you need to watch your blood sugar, pay attention to how your body reacts to eating corn and your blood sugar levels and adjust accordingly.


Corn can be a healthy part of any balanced diet.  It is a low calorie, nutritious food that in its most raw state (fresh, frozen or canned) can be a benefit to your overall body function, from cell nutrition to digestive functioning.  The more corn is processed the less benefits it has to your health.