Originally Published on Organicfacts.net By Meenakshi Nagdeve
Health benefits of corn include diabetes management and prevention of chronic heart conditions, lower, and also reduction in the neural-tube defects at birth. Corn or maize is one of the most popular cereals in the world and forms the staple food in many countries.
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 come in multiple colors, depending on where the it 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.
According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, corn not only provides the necessary calories for healthy, daily metabolism but is also a rich source of vitamin A, B, E, and many minerals. Its high dietary fiber content ensures that it plays a significant role in the prevention of digestive ailments like constipation. The antioxidants present in it also act as anti- agents and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
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’s richness inprovides protection against a number of chronic diseases. The well-researched and widespread health benefits are listed below.
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 and hemorrhoids, as well as lowering the risk of colon cancer due to corn being a whole-grain.
A study by Dr. Arthur Schatzkin, former chief of the nutritional epidemiology branch at the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) concludes, “Total dietary fiber intake is not associated with colorectal cancer risk, whereas whole-grain consumption is associated with a modestly reduced risk.” Dietary fiber can help bulk and soften stools promoting regular elimination and decreasing straining. This process is done by stimulating the peristaltic motion and the production of gastric juice and bile. By adding bulk to overly loose stools, the chances for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea can be greatly reduced.
Corn is rich in vitamin B constituents, especially thiamin and niacin. Thiamin is essential for maintaining nerve health and cognitive function. Niacin deficiency leads to pellagra; a disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia, and dermatitis that is commonly observed in malnourished individuals. It is also a good source of , which is an essential vitamin for , protein, and lipid metabolism in the body.
Deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women can lead to the birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects in newborns. It provides a significant percentage of the daily folate requirement, thus preventing this condition. The kernels are also rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant that is essential for growth and protection of the body from illness and diseases.
Corn, especially the yellow variety, is a rich source of calories and is a staple in many places. The calorific content of yellow and white corn is 365 calories per 100 grams, while the calorie content in sweet yellow and white corn is 86 calories per 100 grams. This is why, it is often turned to for quick weight gain, and combined with the ease and flexibility of the growing conditions, the high-calorie content makes it vital for the survival of dozens of nations.
Provides Essential Minerals
Corn contains abundant minerals which positively benefit the body in a number of ways, says a study conducted by Dr. Phil Warman, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Canada. Phosphorus, along with magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and copper are some of the essential nutrients that are found in all varieties of corn. It also contains trace minerals like selenium, which are difficult to find in most normal diets. Phosphorus is essential for regulating normal growth, bone health, and optimal kidney functioning. Magnesium is necessary for maintaining a normal heart rate and for increasing bone mineral density.
Protects Your Heart
According to research, corn oil has been shown to have an anti-atherogenic effect on cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of various diseases. Corn oil, in particular, 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 LDL or bad cholesterol and replace them at the binding sites. This will reduce the chances of arteries becoming clogged, lower blood pressure, and minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Corn helps prevent anemia caused by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. It also contains 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. Studies have also been conducted connecting Vitamin A and beta carotene with increased absorption of iron.
Lowers LDL Cholesterol
According to a study by Dr. Robert Nicolosi, University of Massachusetts, US, consumption of corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL or bad cholesterol by reducing cholesterol absorption in the body. As mentioned earlier, this reduction in LDL cholesterol does not mean a reduction in HDL or good cholesterol, which can have beneficial effects on the body. They include the reduction of heart diseases, prevention of , and 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. As per a study published in the Science journal, beta-carotene is a great source of vitamin A because it is converted into the body according to the amount required. 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 mucous 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 diseases like cancer and heart disease. That being said, smokers need to be careful about their beta-carotene intake, 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.
In recent decades, the world has seemed to suffer from an epidemic of diabetes. Although the exact mechanism for this cannot be pinpointed, it is generally related to nutrition. Studies have shown that consumption of whole grains is related to a decreased risk in the development of type 2 diabetes. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, consumption of its kernels assists in the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and is effective against due to the presence of phenolic phytochemicals in whole corn. Phytochemicals can regulate the absorption and release of insulin in the body, which can reduce the chance of spikes and drops for diabetic patients and help them maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Cornstarch is used in the manufacturing of many cosmetic products and may also be applied topically to soothe skin rashes and irritation. Its products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which are major components of many cosmetic preparations. Many of the traditional skin creams contain petroleum jelly as a base material, which can often block pores and make skin conditions even worse. Furthermore, cosmetic use of corn oil in skin cleansing and wrinkle-reducing cream has been patented by Dr. Donald E. Barker, professor of surgery, Department of Surgery, for the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, US.
How to Select and Store?
The two types of corn include sweet corn and field corn. Sweet corn is more commonly consumed, and field corn is usually grounded and used in the production of flour.
It is easily available across markets all over the world. It’s always good to consume fresh corn; however, frozen corn can also be used. While buying fresh corn make sure the husks are not dried out. Also, consume fresh corn within a few days to ensure good taste. For storing them, you may keep the husk and store them in airtight containers in the refrigerator for longer shelf life.
Quick Ideas to Serve
- Steamed corn: Clean the fresh corns and cook them in a container filled with water. Add butter, lime, pepper, and/or salt to the cooked corn for additional flavor.
- Soups and salads: Add the cooked kernels to salads and soups for additional flavor. Mix chopped onion, tomato, lettuce, and cooked corn kernels in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, lime juice, and olive oil.
Corn is a rich source of many essential nutrients and fiber. A meal rich in corn can go a long way in protecting against many diseases and ailments. So start shucking!