Health Benefits of Corn

Corn is a staple food, one of the most commonly eaten and grown in the world. There are more than 200 varieties grown in the United States alone, where corn on the cob is a popular tradition among many families. In Latin America the husks are used to make tamales, and ground corn is used as a base for many traditional recipes, including tortillas. 

Since corn is naturally gluten-free, it’s a good choice to use in place of wheat. It’s also loaded with important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can help your health in a number of ways. 

Health Benefits

Corn is a great source of potassium, an essential nutrient that many Americans don’t get enough of. Potassium helps regulate the circulatory system, maintaining adequate blood flow and a strong heartbeat. Low potassium levels may lead to a potentially serious condition called hypokalemia

Eye Health

Corn contains lutein, a carotenoid similar to vitamin A that’s more commonly found in fruits and vegetables. Lutein is known for lowering the risk of macular degeneration, cataracts, and other eye conditions. 

Digestive Health

Corn is high in dietary fiber, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Fiber is the bulk in plant-based foods that your body doesn’t digest. Although it’s indigestible, the fiber in corn offers many other advantages, like regulating bowel movements, managing blood sugar levels, and more. 

Prostatitis Treatment

In addition, corn contains the antioxidant quercetin. Researchers have found strong evidence that quercetin plays an important role in treating prostatitis, an inflammation of the prostate that affects many men. 

Alzheimer’s and Dementia

The quercetin may also have a protective effect against Alzheimer’s and dementia. Scientists have found that quercetin protects neuron cells and reduces neuroinflammation, potentially reducing the incidence of dementia, although more research is needed. 

Nutrition

Corn contains vitamin B6, a nutrient necessary for maintaining healthy levels of pyridoxine. Pyridoxine deficiency can cause anemia and may increase the risk of developing heart disease, depression, and premenstrual syndrome

Corn is also a great way to eat more: 

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Nutrients per Serving

One large ear of corn is roughly equal to about 1 cup of individual kernels. A large 1-ear serving of corn has:

Portion Sizes

Although corn is a staple food around the world, it contains a relatively large amount of carbohydrates. It also includes a lot of starch and may elevate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. It’s important to eat corn with moderation and as part of a balanced diet. 

Based on a 2,000-calorie diet, the average daily recommendation suggests eating about 2 ½ cups of vegetables, and corn certainly counts. A 1-cup serving of corn provides about 10% of the daily recommended amount of fiber.

How to Prepare Corn

Corn is very versatile and easy to prepare at home. It can be grilled, roasted, cooked in the oven, or placed in the pot depending on your preference. 

Thoroughly wash and dry the corn before preparation. If you’re boiling the corn, peel the husk away and remove the silk. You can grill it without the husk, too, although some do like to leave these pieces intact during the cooking process.

Lay the ears of corn into a pot of boiling, salted water for 5 to 10 minutes depending on your taste. After the 5 minute mark, start testing the corn every minute or so to see that it’s still tender. Avoid boiling them for more than 10 minutes or they’ll get too tough. 

Here are a few ideas for different ways to incorporate corn into your diet: 

  • After boiling your cobs in water, lightly coat them with butter and a sprinkle of salt to enjoy classic corn on the cob.
  • Sprinkle canned or cooked corn over your salad as a delicious topping.
  • In addition to corn, add tomatoes, basil, and black beans to your salad for a “Southwestern” kick.
  • Use corn as your base for homemade cornbread.
  • Fry corn together with cake batter, jalapeños, and chives to make corn fritters.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 07, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

American Diabetes Association: “Get to Know Carbs.”

Biomolecules: "Neuroprotective Effects of Quercetin in Alzheimer’s Disease.”

FoodData Central: “Corn, Sweet, Yellow, Raw.”

Harvard Health: “The Importance of Potassium.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Top Foods to Protect Your Vision.”

Mayo Clinic: “Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet.”

Urology: “Quercetin in Men with Category Iii Chronic Prostatitis: A Preliminary Prospective, Double-blind, Placebo-controlled Trial.”

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