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 Corn is likely one of the most generally eaten meals on the earth. It’s additionally extremely versatile. You’ll discover it in baked items and breads, popped as a snack, grilled on the cob, fed to cows, used to gasoline vehicles, and because the base ingredient for an enormous vary of processed meals and components. However is corn good for you? And the way do you select the healthiest corn to eat?


Corn makes me consider summer time climate, yard barbecues, and time spent with family members. I’ve loved corn on the cob alongside different scrumptious meals on many summer time nights. I’ve additionally loved my justifiable share of cornbread, corn tortillas, and extra corn chips than I’d care to confess. And I do know I’m not the one one.

What Is Corn?

Corn is a domesticated crop that’s thought to have originated from a Mexican grass known as teosinte — corn’s closest relative — over 8,700 years in the past. Christopher Columbus
launched corn to Europe across the late 1400s. From there, the remainder of the world got here to comprehend it by the use of vacationers and merchants.

Historically, the British English use of the phrase “corn” referred to any type of grain. Many different nations all over the world name it “maize.” However as an American, to keep away from confusion, I’m simply going to name corn “corn,” if I maize. (Sorry. Corny pun.)

And now we come to one of many largest corn questions of all of them: Is corn a grain? Or a vegetable?

Apparently, that’s a little bit of a grey space. Most individuals think about corn on the cob a vegetable. However in relation to the person kernels, these are entire grains. Kernels are additionally seeds (you may plant them to develop popcorn!), so technically that might even make corn a fruit.

Corn Varieties and Well being Advantages

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There are various totally different forms of corn. Listed below are a few of the most typical ones.

1) Candy Corn

That is the yellow selection you’re probably to seek out on the cob or minimize off the cob and frozen on the grocery retailer or native market. It’s identified for its candy style, which is because of its excessive sugar content material. Candy corn is totally different from different varieties as a result of it’s really picked for human consumption earlier than it’s totally mature. This assures that the kernels keep tender. When cooked, it produces ferulic acid. (Ferulic acid is an antioxidant that has been studied by researchers at Cornell College for its potential anticancer traits.) Curiously, regardless that candy corn is the variability most consumed by people, it solely makes up 1% of the corn grown in the US. Candy corn is definitely mentioned to have come about from a pure mutation someday within the 18th century.

2) Blue Corn

This selection is filled with anthocyanins, which accounts for its bluish kernels. Anthocyanins are pigments which might be excessive in antioxidants. Anthocyanins in blue corn have particularly been studied for his or her anticancer properties and demonstrated an antiproliferative impact on sure most cancers cell strains. Blue corn can also be barely greater in plant-based protein than yellow. Though you could not generally encounter blue corn in its entire kind, meals firms use it to make blue corn tortillas, tortilla chips, and blue cornmeal.

3) Indian Corn

Usually seen within the autumn, Indian corn is a phenomenal selection with multicolored kernels. They will take form in a spread of colours, corresponding to crimson, blue, and white. The distinctive coloring comes from cross-pollination of single-color corn species. It’s additionally known as flint corn and is likely one of the oldest varieties, originating with the Native Individuals who taught early European immigrant explorers develop it. Indian corn has laborious kernel shells that shrink when cooked, however this makes it much less prone to spoiling than different varieties. When not used as desk decor, this selection works finest in dishes like polenta and hominy as a result of it doesn’t style candy. Larger in starch than different varieties, it accommodates various levels of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, although these look like diminished when boiled.

4) Subject Corn

A lot of the corn grown in the US is discipline corn. And most of it’s genetically engineered. Its main use is to feed livestock, or to provide ethanol for vehicles. Some can also be used to make corn starch, corn oil, corn cereal, and corn syrup for human consumption. Subject corn is typically known as “cow corn,” as a result of a lot of it’s fed to livestock. It’s additionally known as dent corn due to a definite dent that kinds when the kernels dry.

5) Child Corn

You would possibly discover child corn at a salad bar or pickled in tiny jars on the grocery retailer. Many individuals assume that child corn comes from a smaller species of corn. Shock! It’s simply candy or discipline corn picked very prematurely.

Along with health-promoting antioxidants, edible corn gives another advantages, too:

  • Corn has many vitamins. It’s an excellent supply of fiber, protein, B nutritional vitamins, and minerals like zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, selenium, and phosphorus. Whether or not you wish to eat corn contemporary, canned, frozen, or floor into cornmeal, you may reap these dietary advantages 12 months spherical.
  • Corn might assist preserve your eyes wholesome. Corn is excessive in lutein and zeaxanthin, that are carotenoid compounds naturally discovered within the macula of your eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin in meals have been studied for his or her influence on stopping age-related macular degeneration (AMD). A examine in JAMA discovered that of 365 grownup women and men, those that consumed the best quantities of those compounds had a 43% diminished danger of AMD in comparison with those that ate the bottom quantities.
  • Corn could also be good to your intestine. The excessive fiber content material of corn may additionally be good to your intestine. Fiber is crucial for digestive well being. It’s been proven to cut back the danger for digestive ailments like colorectal most cancers and diverticulitis. The truth that corn may very well be useful with diverticulitis is especially placing, contemplating that folks with diverticulitis have historically been advised to keep away from consuming popcorn. However a 2008 examine printed in JAMA adopted over 47,000 males between the ages of 40 and 75, with no historical past of diverticulitis, for 18 years. Researchers discovered that males who ate popcorn no less than two instances per week had a considerably decrease danger of growing diverticulitis than males who ate no popcorn. Because of this and different research, official suggestions are actually being up to date.
  • Corn has lengthy been part of historically wholesome diets. Corn has been a staple meals for Native Individuals and an vital supply of vitamins for a lot of nations all through historical past. And quite a few researchers recommend that switching again to extra conventional meals like corn may considerably cut back the continual ailments of contemporary society. A 2007 report on indigenous folks in North America printed within the Journal of Medicinal Meals discusses this in additional depth. Switching to a contemporary diet that’s excessive in sugar, processed meals, and manufacturing facility farmed animal merchandise results in way more well being dangers for these communities than their conventional diets primarily based on rice, greens, legumes, corn, and wild recreation. Not surprisingly, consuming the Western diet will increase their danger of hypertension and diabetes dramatically.

What About Popcorn?

Hands in a bowl of popcorn

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Popcorn is a complete grain with many vitamins, together with a major quantity of fiber and polyphenols. Though there are various scrumptious methods to arrange this standard snack, the mode of preparation is essential. That’s the place you may rework a wholesome snack into an unhealthy one.

As an example, many microwave popcorn luggage include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), which has been linked to thyroid issues and ADHD. Many packaged manufacturers additionally include hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, which may include trans fat which might be dangerous to your coronary heart well being. And if it has pretend butter in it? This typically accommodates a chemical known as diacetyl, which has been linked, in an occupational publicity examine involving a microwave popcorn manufacturing facility, to a respiratory illness known as cryptogenic organizing pneumonia. Yikes.

It’s finest to get pleasure from air-popped popcorn, which allows you to keep away from the oil used within the processing of most commercially obtainable popcorn. And as an alternative of mounds of melted butter and salt, attempt popcorn with more healthy toppings. Maybe dietary yeast, lemon juice, natural seasoning, turmeric, curry powder, garlic powder, onion powder, a splash of sea salt, and/or different herbs and spices. Some folks even attempt cinnamon. The probabilities are countless!

Corn, Pesticides, and GMOs

A field of corn

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Largely on account of being grown in huge monocultures with little to no rotation of crops, corn is extremely prone to pests. As such, farmers typically spray it with pesticides and herbicides, most of which the thick corn husk prevents from infiltrating the edible half. However that doesn’t cease these chemical compounds from being extremely dangerous to the surroundings and to species, like bees, that are available in contact with these poisons.

Genetic modification is one other technique agribusiness employs in its conflict towards the pests that pose a specific menace to monocultures. As of 2016, roughly 92% of corn grown in the US was genetically modified. One aim of genetic modification of corn is to make corn immune to herbicides (like Monsanto’s RoundUp, or glyphosate). What’s extra, most GMO corn can produce a protein naturally made by Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) micro organism, which kills pests just like the southwestern corn borer that may threaten crops. When the corn borer eats this type of GMO corn, the bug’s intestines explode, inflicting speedy demise.

Traditionally, farmers would spray Bt on the surface of crops and you could possibly even wash it off. However with GMO crops, you could find it in actually each cell of the plant. People are consuming it in completely unprecedented portions, and with GMO crops the pesticide is “in-built.”

And there’s extra unhealthy information. Bt corn labored to repel pests for some time, however now the pests look like constructing resistance to its toxin. How do farmers shield the crops when that begins to occur? By spraying with extra pesticides, after all.

The excellent news is that there is no such thing as a GMO popcorn. And the majority of candy corn (the type folks eat probably the most ceaselessly) will not be genetically modified. The candy selection is on the Environmental Working Group’s 2019 Clear Fifteen checklist of crops that include the least pesticide residues. Nonetheless, Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) isn’t standing idly by once they can earn a living. Now, you could find genetically engineered candy corn in shops.

If you wish to keep away from GMO corn, there are a few actions you may take. First, you may ask your native farmers in the event that they’re planting GMO seeds. That is, after all, best to do in the event you’re shopping for immediately from them at a neighborhood farmers’ market. You may also search for USDA Natural corn, or for Non-GMO Mission licensed. Neither of those certifications permits for the usage of GMO crops. (For extra on the distinction between natural and non-GMO, click on right here.)

Environmental Considerations with Corn

Corn stalks

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Over half of the grain grown on the planet, and a powerful majority of the corn, is being fed to livestock, not people. And it takes between 8- 12 kilos of corn to provide one pound of feedlot beef. This isn’t precisely the height of effectivity. Actually, trendy meat manufacturing is one thing of a protein manufacturing facility in reverse…

And feed corn (virtually all of which is discipline corn) makes use of an immense quantity of pure assets. Actually, it makes use of extra water for irrigation and requires extra fertilizer to develop than another crop. Fertilizer is wealthy in nitrogen and phosphate, that are linked to the event of ocean lifeless zones, as agricultural runoff reaches our waterways. Corn manufacturing is chargeable for roughly 40% of the nitrogen air pollution in agricultural runoff. In the US, corn additionally makes use of extra land than another crop – about 97 million acres.

In the meantime, there are practically one billion folks hungry or ravenous all over the world. If we stopped biking a lot corn and different crops by way of livestock, we’d release huge quantities of land and water, which we may use to develop meals immediately for people.

The counterintuitive actuality is {that a} typical manufacturing facility farmed steak accommodates considerably extra corn and soy than a dinner of corn on the cob and tofu.

Corn For People: How To Get pleasure from It

Grilled vegetables on a plate

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When selecting corn on the cob, search for uniformly inexperienced and tightly wrapped ears. The cob itself ought to really feel agency all the best way round. For those who discover that the brown silk peeking out of the highest is barely damp, that’s an excellent factor. Nonetheless, if the husk has any holes in it, select one other one — this might point out worms.

Whenever you get house, tightly wrap the ears in a plastic bag (or different extra eco-friendly wrap) and place them within the fridge. Corn normally stays contemporary for a couple of days saved this manner. You may also freeze it. To do that, you would possibly wish to blanch the corn — both in entire kind or simply the kernels — after which freeze it. This can assist keep its coloration, texture, and freshness.

For those who purchase corn in its husk, you’ll need to shuck it, or take away the leaves. Begin by peeling again the outer leaves, then the inside leaves. When you’ve all the leaves and a lot of the silks peeled again, break them off the tip of the cob. You’ll in all probability have some pesky silk left. Watch the video under on simply take away that.

Listed below are some a-maize-ing recipes to attempt:

Simple Vegan Cornbread by From My Bowl – That is an oil-free, gluten-free, low-sugar recipe that makes use of white beans to present it a tender texture.

Stovetop Air Popped Popcorn by Amy’s Wholesome Baking – This can be a easy tutorial for making air-popped popcorn proper in your range. You’ll be able to omit the salt in the event you like, or attempt another wholesome toppings like lemon juice or curry powder. You may also purchase a popcorn popper that makes 18 cups of popcorn in 2 ½ minutes — like this one, right here.

Cowboy Caviar by Cookie and Kate – This can be a scrumptious dip made with corn, beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, and contemporary herbs. Serve it alongside contemporary minimize veggies or pitas.

Mexican Corn on the Cob by Ceara’s Kitchen – The avocado and lime dressing make this a zesty and enjoyable twist on basic corn on the cob.

Kernels of Fact

For those who’re allergic to corn, as some individuals are, then, after all, it goes with out saying (however I’ll say it anyway): Don’t eat it. For most individuals, nevertheless, the unprocessed, non-GMO selection is a nutritious meals that may be a wholesome addition to your diet. You’ll be able to experiment with other ways to get pleasure from corn — figuring out you’re having fun with a long-standing and nourishing staple meals that’s tasty and has some intriguing well being advantages.

Inform Us within the Feedback:

  • Do you eat corn?
  • What’s your favourite option to eat it?
  • Do you’ve any nice corn recipes to share?

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