Is corn good for you? We know that this grain does have some nutritional benefits. But then, are there any proofs that suggest that it might be harmful? Is this grain potentially dangerous? Or is it good for your health?
Corn has lots of minerals, vitamins, and fiber. So why are its health benefits still controversial? Yes, the amazing nutrients in it are beneficial. But then, it can spike up your blood sugar if care is not taken.
These, among a few others, are the common concerns that some people have about this grain. Some people even think that this grain will make them fat. Is this true? In this article, we will consider the benefits you stand to gain from eating it, as well as examine some of the common concerns.
General Info on Corn
Do you know that experts consider corn to be in the class of both cereal grains and vegetables? It is indeed a unique food. Those in culinary will tell you that sweet-corn (the one has often eaten off its cob) is a vegetable. Corn’s dry seeds (the one you use for popcorn) are, however, put in the class of whole grains.
Let’s tell you about the origin of corn. This crop originally came from Mexico more than 90 centuries ago. Its original name is maize. Some people still prefer to call it by that name.
Native Americans used to grow and harvest this crop. It was one of their main sources of food. These days, this grain has become a widely consumed grain. It is, perhaps, the most consumed grain worldwide.
Usually, corn is yellow or white. But then, you can also find this grain in red, blue, or purple sometimes. It can be eaten in many ways. You can eat it as fresh sweet-corn, tortillas, popcorn, chips, grits, polenta, cornmeal, syrup, and oil. It is also a common addition to countless dishes and other foods.
You can also find corn in animal feed. People use it for fuel too – a lot. If you care to know, 40 percent of US-grown corn is converted to fuel. And worldwide, 60 to 70 percent of corn production goes into feeding animals.
You can find corn in almost anything these days. They are present in cereals, sodas, and everything in-between. A publication from Tufts University states that in America, each person consumes about 160 lb. of corn.
This rate at which Americans consume corn is quite alarming. Health experts are concerned that corn might be gradually replacing more health-promoting foods.
Our take is that while corn is not in any way a cure-all, it is not poison either. If you eat moderate amounts, it can be a part of a healthy diet. Let’s talk about some of its health benefits and common concerns.
Is Corn Good for You?
Yes, corn is good for you. Here are some of the benefits you can get from it:
Some varieties of corn have loads of antioxidants. The most rampant are a special group called carotenoids. These antioxidants ward off free radicals’ harmful effects in your body. Do you know what that means?
Free radicals are major game players in aging, as well as the development (what doctors call pathophysiology) of many chronic diseases. So when you eat carotenoids (or other antioxidants), you prevent these harmful effects.
Aside from corn, you can get carotenoids from a few other veggies and fruits. These include dark leafy green veggies, sweet potatoes, and of course, carrots. They are all rich carotenoid sources.
2. Dietary fiber
Corn does not have as many nutrients as many other vegetables. But still, it contains an abundance of dietary fibers. Its dietary fiber content is similar to what you will find in many grains and legumes.
Corn may not have as much fiber as legumes like navy beans. But the fiber content of corn can assist your digestion, as well as reduce constipation risk.
Do you know one of the things that science says about fibers? Regular fiber consumption may elongate a person’s lifespan. One study in 2011 even concluded that a person’s intake of dietary fibers correlated with lower risks of dying prematurely, especially from respiratory, cardiovascular, and infectious diseases.
3. It is gluten-free
Corn might be grain technically. But then, it is gluten-free. As such, it is safe for those who have gluten intolerance or celiac disease. At least, with this grain as an option, you wouldn’t have to give up grains totally.
With all the benefits listed above, what then are the concerns about this grain?
- The primary concern of nutrition advocates is that corn may be a “filler” food in some sense. As such, they fear that people may eat excess carbs and little to no nutrient-dense foods. But while it is true that this grain contains sugars, they are naturally occurring. And then, its sugar content is not too different from what you will find in other starchy veggies.
- Some health advocates also argue that the GMO varieties of corn are dangerous. They fear that GMO foods may cause health problems. However, Harvard University published recently that the WHO (World Health Organization) has concluded that there is no health risk with consuming GMO crops.
- Some people also claim that this grain is difficult to digest. Some sources even say we can’t digest this grain at all. This is not true. This grain contains lots of cellulose (insoluble fiber). And indeed, humans cannot digest cellulose.
Will Corn Make You Fat?
Corn does not contain lots of fat naturally. But a lot of people, especially fast-food chains prepare it with methods that increase its fat content. When you add butter or other fats, oils, etc. to corn, it can become a high-fat, excess calorie food.
One other factor is how much you are consuming. Consuming large quantities of even the most nutritious foods can give you excess calories that you won’t be able to burn off easily. This would make you gain excess weight.
So you see that you can’t blame weight gain on any particular food. It’s really about a balance in the energy (calories) you are consuming and your energy expenditure.
So, is corn good for you? Yes, sure it is. Just make sure you eat it in moderation.