Corn also is known as Maize (Zea mays) is one of the most widely cultivated grain in the world. It was first cultivated in Paris, Mexico, and Central America. Corn is usually considered as a vegetable but it is also a grain rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Corn is typically yellow but also exists in a variety of other colors such as white, red, orange, purple, and black.
Popcorn and sweet corn are the most popularly consumed corn extract, but refined corn products are also widely consumed. They include; cornflour, tortillas, tortilla chips, cornmeal, polenta, corn syrup, and corn oil.
According to nutritionist, 1 cup of raw corn contains
Amplifies energy: Corn is good energy giving food. Athletes are often advised to include corn in their meals because of its energy content.
It contains complex carbohydrate which digests at a slow pace. This slow digestion in turn provides energy for a longer duration of time.
The carbs content in corn provides energy for the body and also ensures the brain and nervous system functions properly.
Reduces the risk of anemia:
Corn contains vitamin B2 and iron which helps in the production of red blood cells in the body. It reduces the risk of anemia by supplying enough nutrients required to produce fresh red blood cells.
Perfect for weight gain:
Corn is not naturally high in fat but they contain a reasonable amount of calories and when eaten with butter and oils, it makes a healthy weight gain meal.
Helpful during pregnancy:
Corn contains pathogenic acid and zeaxanthin which reduces the risk of birth defects in babies. It protects them from physiological problems and muscular degeneration. The quality fiber content in corn also soothes constipation which is a very common concern for pregnant women.
Lowers blood sugar and cholesterol level:
Sweet corn and corn oil make an excellent choice for diabetic and cholesterol patients because they increase blood flow, lower cholesterol absorption, reduce the level of blood sugar, and regulates insulin.
Corn is extremely rich in vitamin B2, B5, and minerals which help in fighting diseases and generating new cells.
Keeps the skin healthy:
Corn is rich in vitamins and lycopene, an antioxidant that increases the production of collagen and prevents UV-generated free radicals from damaging the skin. Also, corn products like corn oil and corn starch are also applied directly on the skin and used as an ingredient in many cosmetic products because of its benefit.
Good for eye health:
Corn contains vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin that plays a big role in vision. It is partly responsible for the yellow pigment of corn. The retina uses Vitamin A to synthesize rhodopsin that later breaks down when absorbing light, sending a neuronal signal to the brain about the picture in front of your eye.
Reduces the risk of diverticulitis:
Popcorn, an extract of corn helps prevent diverticulitis, a condition that causes pouches in the walls of the colon. An experiment showed that men who ate more popcorn have a lower risk of getting the diverticular disease.
Prevents colon cancer:
Corn is rich in fiber. Research from the University of Maryland showed that a compound, inositol hexaphosphate present in corn fiber prevents colon cancer growth.
Perfect for people with celiac disease:
Although corn is technically a grain, it is also gluten-free. This makes it a safe option for people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance who want to add grains to their diet.
ARE THEY DISADVANTAGES OF EATING CORN?
Eating corn moderately doesn’t pose any threat to the health, but consuming it too much may pose some health risk to people who are ill for example a diabetic patient. They are precautionary measures you can note before adding corn into your diet especially if you are sick.
Corn as a starchy vegetable means it contains high levels of sugar and carbohydrates that can raise blood sugar levels when overeaten by diabetic patients. It’s important you watch the portion sizes you consume.
Corn also contains anti-nutrients which are compounds that could prevent your body from absorbing nutrients as well as it should.
Soaking your corn can help remove many of these anti-nutrients. Pap (a Nigerian made corn extract meal) making procedure requires you soak the corn for a while before processing it.
It’s very healthy cornmeal and is largely consumed across Nigeria because of its health benefit.
Also, corn often gets contaminated by fungi that put off toxins called mycotoxins. Eating a lot of corn containing this toxin poses a high risk of getting certain cancers, lung issues, liver problems, and the general performance of the immune system.
CAN THE BODY DIGEST CORN?
Corn contains cellulose in high proportions. Cellulose is an insoluble fiber that the body cannot totally digest. However, the body breaks down other components of the corn.
Chewing corn for a longer period before swallowing it can help the digestive system break down the walls of the cellulose to get access to more of the nutrients in corn.
There are also methods in which corn can be prepared that makes it easily digestible. An ancient process of corn preparation called Nixtamalization is still being used by producers until today.
The process involves soaking and cooking the corn in lime, which is an alkaline solution containing calcium hydroxide. The Corn is then washed and hulked for processing into food products such as tortillas, cornmeal, tamales, and others.
This process (Nixtamalization) aids digestion and also adds flavor and aroma to the corn while reducing the mycotoxins that may be present due to fungal contamination.
DOES CORN MAKE YOU FAT?
Corn naturally is not high in fat. However, it could be prepared in a way that increases the fat content. For Example, adding butter and oils can turn it into a high fat and high calorie food.
WHY THERE IS CORN IN YOUR POOP
Finding corn in your poop is as a result of indigestion. This is because the outer shell of corn is made up of a compound called cellulose. Cellulose is an insoluble fiber that the body cannot totally break down.
The body does not contain enzymes that can specifically break down cellulose. However, the body can break down other components that are inside corn.
So, if you find corn in your stool after eating it, chances are you’re seeing only the outer shell of the corn.
However, having corn in your stool isn’t usually a cause for concern. This is because the body is not meant to break down all forms of fiber.
But you can reduce the quantity of food particles like corn in your stool by chewing the corn slowly and for a longer period.
Food that is chewed more thoroughly and in smaller pieces is easily broken down by the digestive system.
IS CORN APPROPRIATE FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
Corn is high in fiber, carbs, minerals, and vitamins. It is a good probiotic which increases the number of good bacteria in the gut aiding digestion which in turn leads to a good metabolism and eventually helps in weight loss.
Also, corn takes a longer time to digest because of its high fiber content. The fiber stays in the stomach for a longer period of time compared to other food types, so it keeps you satisfied longer, minimizes hunger and prevents you from taking in more meals, and burns the extra fat growing old in the body.
By adding fiber to your diet, it is easier to cut down on calories. It is also beneficial to the health of the eyes, bones, and digestive system. Using it as grain doesn’t really affect the nutritional value.
The body fat cannot completely but partially be burnt by consuming corn. Corn is a digestive food that burns the fat or the calories and that is how the bodyweight gets reduced.
IS CORN HEALTHIER THAN RICE?
To determine this, we have to look at their nutritional differences and analyze their health impact
Corn is richer in sugar and protein and has a lower glycemic index
Rice on the other hand is richer in carbs due to starch and calories and is recommended for a low fat diet.
Corn contains Vitamin A, B, E, C, and K. Corn is richer in Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) B3 (Niacin) B5 (Pantothenic acid), except for B9 (Folic acid) which is present in rice.
Rice does not contain all these vitamins as corn does. Rice contains Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)
Corn contains more potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and sodium whereas,
Rice is richer in iron, calcium, and copper. But both food contains an equal amount of zinc.
Corn is rich in fiber which is important for the health of the gastrointestinal tract controlling blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Rice, specifically white rice misses this element. But brown rice contains much more of it.
As healthy as corn is, when overused, it can cause a lot of malnutrition problems starting from its lack of a few amino acids, namely; lysine and tryptophan to its ability to easily lose its Vitamin B5 also known as niacin content when not properly cooked.
Niacin deficiency combined with tryptophan deficiency causes a disease called Pellagra with the following symptoms; diarrhea inflamed skin and cognitive issues.
The lack of tryptophan leads to low serotonin levels leading to depression. It is often referred to as the disease of four “D”s; Diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia, and death.
Some African countries where the people experience famine and use corn as their main source of food suffer from a disease called KWASHIOKOR, as a result of severe protein malnutrition. It mostly affects infants and children.
Rice on the other hand when overused or not produced in the right condition bring about the presence of an arsenic compound which when found in high levels is considered oncogenic as well as a playing role in some coronary diseases.
In summary, both foods contain important minerals and vitamins and can also cause a negative effect if overused. Your consumption of either rice or corn should be based on the nutrient, minerals, and vitamins you desire.
HOW TO PREPARE AND STORE CORN
You can steam, boil, roast, or grill corn on the cob. Keep the husk on for roasting or grilling.
If you are trying to lose weight and you want corn in your diet, top your corn with a squeeze of lime or a teaspoon of olive oil, or a dash of chili powder for flavor.
If you are not on a weight loss diet, use some butter, oils, and seasonings on your corn.
Store corn in the refrigerator with the husk on if you have no intention of eating it right away. The cold from the refrigerator will keep it fresh for up to five (5) days.
Corn is one of the most widely consumed cereal grains in the world. It is considered a healthy food because it has a lot of nutritional benefits.
It is a perfect energy meal, it reduces the risk of anemia, helps during pregnancy, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol level, keeps the skin healthy, makes vision better, reduces the risk of diverticulitis, prevents colon cancer.
Its vitamin contentment (Vitamin A, K, C, B2, and B5) helps in growth and development, prevents excessive bleeding, helps in tissue reparation, helps in cellular respiration respectively.
Overall scientific evidence suggests that the right amount of corn consumption leads to a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases like cardiovascular, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and digestive issues.
Corn also contains a good source of antioxidant carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin that help to promote eye health.
Because of all the health benefits associated with eating corn, moderate consumption of whole grain corn such as popcorn or sweet corn can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet.