Corn or maize, is a large grain plant whose leafy stalk produces ears that contain grains protected by silk-like threads called corn silk and encased in a husk. Corn is a cereal grain and is also eaten as a vegetable, depending on the variety. Although corn is often associated with the color yellow, it grows in a host of different varieties that feature an array of different colors, including red, pink, black, blue and purple. When you reach for those tempting ears of sweet corn in the produce (hopefully organic) aisle, you’ll be pleased to know that apart from being wonderfully delicious, they boast amazing health benefits.
Nutritional Content of Corn
Corn is beneficial to health as it contains B-vitamins, folate, vitamin C, beta-carotene, protein and fiber in good amounts. In addition corn is a decent source of potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc. Corn is a carb-rich food, so in order to reap nutritional benefits it is important to eat it in moderation and not slather it in butter and other fatty foods.
Health Benefits of Corn
1. Digestive Benefits: Corn is a good source of fiber, both soluble and insoluble and has well-documented digestive benefits. Corn consumption can help alleviate common digestive ailments like constipation and hemorrhoids.
2. Lowers the Risk of Cancer: Corn contains phytonutrients in the form of bound phenolics that are associated with a reduced risk of colon and other digestive cancers. Also the resistant starch found in corn promotes butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid found in the colon that may help fight colon cancer. Beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid has antioxidant properties that are linked to significantly lowering the risk of lung cancer. Also ferulic acid, a phenolic compound found in corn is effective against liver and breast tumors.
3. Heart Health: Corn grain is high in folate, a type of B-vitamin that is known to reduce homocysteine, an inflammatory marker attributed to heart diseases. A diet high in folate may significantly reduce the risk of developing heart and other cardiovascular related diseases.
4. Controlling Cholesterol: Sweet corn contains good amounts of vitamin C, carotenoids and bioflavonoids that help in controlling cholesterol levels. Consumption of corn husk oil lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol, while HDL is the good one) by reducing cholesterol absorption in the body, according to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry.
5. Prevents Anemia: The folic acid and several B-vitamins present in sweet corn help prevent anemia. Moreover, people suffering from anemia on regular consumption of corn have shown positive signs of improvement.
6. Controls Diabetes and Hypertension: Consumption of corn kernels assists in the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM). Also cornstarch, a product made from corn was shown to improve glucose metabolism in normal and overweight women. The phenolic phytochemicals present in whole corn are effective in people with hypertension.
7. Healthy Eyes: Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene, which forms vitamin A in the body and is known to be essential for maintaining good vision. Also, the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin found in corn have been associated with reductions in risks of macular degeneration and development of cataracts.
8. Improved Brain Function and Energy Levels: Corn is an excellent source of thiamine, a nutrient that is helpful in the functioning of the brain to enable one to execute cognitive duties. Thiamine also helps synthesize acetylocholine, a neurotransmitter that helps strengthen the memory, delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and development of age related senility. In addition, thiamine (vitamin B1) and pantothenic acid help cells convert carbohydrates into energy, thus making corn a popular choice for people with fast-paced and stressful lives.
9. Youthful Skin: Corn is rich in antioxidants that help eliminate free radicals and keep the skin nourished. Corn starch can be used to soothe skin irritation and rashes.
10. Good for Pregnant Women: Deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women affects the baby, which is why pregnant women are encouraged to consume corn for its folic acid content.
In short, corn is a rich source of many essential nutrients and fiber and may protect and aide against many ailments. So go on then, and start shucking!
If you need any help growing corn, feel free to get in touch with us, we’re always keen on helping our fellow organic gardeners! In the meantime, check our How to Grow Corn article. You can get corn seeds at Sweet Corn Organic Nursery.