Corn Nutrition: Health Benefits, History, and Myths

What Is Corn? Corn or maize is a grain plant..

Corn Nutrition: Health Benefits, History, and Myths

What Is Corn?

Corn or maize is a grain plant that originated in southern Mexico. The kernels or seeds of corn hold the majority of its nutrients and are the most commonly consumed parts.

They can come in multiple colors, depending on where the corn is grown and what species or variety they happen to be.

Another genetic variant, called sweetcorn, has more sugar and less starch in the nutritive material.

Health Benefits Of Corn

Corn provides many health benefits due to the presence of quality nutrients within. Besides being a delicious addition to any meal, it is rich in phytochemicals and provides protection against a number of chronic diseases.

The well-researched and widespread health benefits of corn are listed below.

Prevents Hemorrhoids

The fiber content of one cup of corn amounts to 18.4% of the daily recommended amount. This aids in alleviating digestive problems such as constipation and hemorrhoids, as well as lowering the risk of colon cancer due to corn being a whole-grain.

Fiber has long been promoted as a way to reduce colon risk, but insufficient and conflicting data exist for fiber’s relationship with preventing cancer, although whole-grain consumption has been proven to reduce that risk.

Fiber helps to bulk up bowel movements. Which stimulates peristaltic motion and the production of gastric juice and bile.

It can also add bulk to overly loose stools, which can reduce the chances of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea.

Protects Your Heart

According to researchers, corn oil has been shown to have an anti-atherogenic effect on cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of various cardiovascular diseases.

Corn oil, particularly, is the best way to improve heart health and this is derived from the fact that corn is close to an optimal fatty acid combination.

This allows omega-3 fatty acids to strip away the damaging “bad” cholesterol and replace them at the binding sites.

This will reduce the chances of arteries becoming clogged, will reduce blood pressure, and lower the chances of heart attack and stroke.

Lowers LDL Cholesterol

According to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, consumption of corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL (bad) cholesterol by reducing cholesterol absorption in the body.

As mentioned earlier, this reduction in LDL cholesterol does not mean a reduction in HDL (good) cholesterol, which can have beneficial effects on the body.

They include the reduction of heart diseases, prevention of atherosclerosis, and a general scavenging of free radicals throughout the body.

Eye & Skin Care

Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene, which forms vitamin A in the body and is essential for the maintenance of good vision and skin.

Beta-carotene is a great source of vitamin A because it is converted within the body according to the amount required by the body.

Vitamin A can be toxic if too much is consumed, so deriving it through beta-carotene transformation is ideal.

It will also benefit the health of skin and mucus membranes, as well as boost the immune system.

The amount of beta-carotene in the body that is not converted into vitamin A acts as a very strong antioxidant. Like all carotenoids and can combat terrible diseases like cancer and heart disease.

That being said, smokers need to be careful about their beta-carotene content. Because smokers with high beta-carotene levels are more likely to contract lung cancer.

While non-smokers with high beta-carotene content are less likely to contract lung cancer.

Prevents Anemia

Corn helps to prevent anemia caused by a deficiency of these vitamins.

It also has a significant level of iron. Which is one of the essential minerals needed to form new red blood cells; a deficiency of iron is one of the main causes of anemia as well.

Weight Gain

Corn is a rich source of calories and is a staple in many places.

The calorific content of corn is 342 calories per 100 grams, which is among the highest for cereals.

This is why, it is often turned to for quick weight gain. And combined with the ease and flexibility of growing conditions for corn.

The high-calorie content makes it vital for the survival of dozens of agricultural nations.

The Nutritional Value of Corn 

One large ear of corn on the cob has about:

  • 123 calories
  • 5 grams protein
  • 2 grams fat
  • 4 grams fiber
  • 27 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0.1 milligram thiamine (7 percent DV)
  • 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (7 percent DV)
  • 19.5 milligrams folate (5 percent DV)
  • 3 milligrams vitamin C (5 percent DV)
  • 158 milligrams potassium (5 percent DV)
  • 18.3 milligrams magnesium (5 percent DV)
  • 47.2 milligrams phosphorus (5 percent DV)


Corn Nutrition

Myths About Corn

Myth: Corn is unhealthy

No! Corn is a vegetable that contains nutrients, and an ear definitely counts as one of your daily servings of veggies, McDaniel says.

The idea that corn is unhealthy likely came about because corn is high in starch, which is a carbohydrate.

And “with the carb-phobia phase we went through over the last few years, that’s probably where corn got a bad rap, along with the beloved potato,” she explains.

Myth: Your body cannot digest corn — and that’s a bad thing

While it’s true that corn has high amounts of insoluble fiber — meaning, the kind of fiber that goes through the body intact and gets those bowel movements going — this is not a bad thing, McDaniel says.

Sure, if you eat a lot of corn, you might see some of it in your stool, but insoluble fiber has been shown in research to help feed the “good” bacteria in our gut.

“If we’re looking at getting lots of good fiber in our diet, it’s good that [corn] has a higher ratio of insoluble to soluble fiber because it feeds the good gut bacteria in our body,” she explains.

Myth: Corn isn’t a good source of any nutrients

Vegetables like kale and spinach may have better reputations as nutrition all-stars, but corn has something to contribute, too.

Corn contains certain B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as magnesium and potassium.

Yellow corn is also a good source of two antioxidants, zeaxanthin and lutein, which are good for eye health, McDaniel says.

Myth: The corn you buy at the grocery store is genetically modified

Nope. In fact, most sweet corn available in your grocery store’s produce section is not GMO corn, McDaniel says.

Field corn, which is harvested later than sweet corn and is processed to be turned into oil, high-fructose corn syrup or other products, is the corn that’s typically genetically modified.

That’s not to say that genetically engineered sweet corn doesn’t exist — but it is rare.

Even though Monsanto has developed and sold seeds for genetically engineered sweet corn, grassroots organization Friends of the Earth tested 71 samples of sweet corn (fresh, frozen and canned) from eight areas around the U.S. to find that only 2.4 percent of the samples had been genetically engineered.

If you’re still worried about eating genetically modified sweet corn, McDaniel recommends purchasing organic, as genetic engineering is prohibited in any USDA organic products. (“This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients,” the USDA notes on its website.)

Myth: You shouldn’t eat corn because it’s really high in sugar

You don’t steer clear of bananas because you think they’re high in sugar, do you? Then why should you do the same for corn?

A banana contains about the same amount of calories as an ear of corn — around 110 — yet it has two to three times the amount of sugar.

A cob of corn has around 6 to 8 grams of sugar, while a banana has about 15.

3 Ways to Cook Corn on the Cob

First off, in case you need a refresher, here’s how to shuck corn quickly and cleanly.

Boiling is the classic way to prepare sweet corn. You can either use a wide, flat pan and lay the corn on its side, or use a taller stockpot to boil a big batch at once.

Either way, fill the pan with enough water to cover the corn and bring it to a boil.

Shuck off the outer husk and silk from the corn. Dissolve a tablespoon of salt in the water and add the corn.

If your corn is very fresh, cook it for three to five minutes. For corn that’s a few days old, go for six to eight minutes.

2. Microwave It

We like this microwave method if we’re just cooking a few ears of corn for dinner and don’t want to trouble with boiling a big pot of water.

Leave the corn in their husks and microwave them two at a time on HIGH for four to six minutes, depending on the age of your corn. Let them cool enough to handle and then strip off the husks and silk.

3. Grill ‘Em!

Roasting on the grill gives the corn a smoky flavor we absolutely love. Peel back the husks, but leave them attached at the stem.

Remove all the silk and then brush the corn with olive oil (butter can sometimes burn). Cover the corn back up with the husks and secure them closed with a piece of string or aluminum foil.

Roast the ears of corn over a medium-hot grill, turning occasionally, until the outer husks are charred and toasted. This usually takes about 15 minutes. Let the corn cool enough to handle, then strip off the husks and eat.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

We eat clean, are always motivated and helpout beginners in need. We sell guides on Cutting, Bulking and Muscle Building. Checkout our website!

Related articles