Also known as maize (Zea mays), corn is one of the world’s most popular cereal grains. It’s the seed of a plant in the grass family, native to Central America but grown in countless varieties worldwide.
Popcorn and sweet corn are popular varieties, but refined corn products are also widely consumed, frequently as ingredients in processed food. These include tortillas, tortilla chips, polenta, cornmeal, corn flour, corn syrup, and corn oil.
Whole-grain corn is as healthy as any cereal grain, as its rich in fiber and many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Corn is typically yellow but comes in a variety of other colors, such as red, orange, purple, blue, white, and black.
Here are the nutrition facts for 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of boiled yellow corn:
●Protein: 3.4 grams
●Carbs: 21 grams
●Sugar: 4.5 grams
●Fiber: 2.4 grams
●Fat: 1.5 grams
Like all cereal grains, corn is primarily composed of carbs. Starch is its main carb, comprising 28–80% of its dry weight. Corn also provides small amounts of sugar (1–3%). Sweet corn, or sugar corn, is a special, low-starch variety with higher sugar content, at 18% of the dry weight. Most of the sugar is sucrose. Despite the sugar in sweet corn, it is not a high-glycemic food, ranking low or medium on the glycemic index (GI). The GI is a measure of how quickly carbs are digested. Foods that rank high on this index may cause an unhealthy spike in blood sugar.
Corn contains a fair amount of fiber. One medium bag (112 grams) of cinema popcorn boasts approximately 16 grams of fiber. This is 42% and 64% of the Daily Value (DV) for men and women, respectively. While the fiber content of different types of corn varies, it’s generally around 9–15% of the dry weight. The predominant fibers in corn are insoluble ones, such as hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin.
Corn is a decent source of protein. Depending on the variety, the protein content ranges from 10–15%. The most abundant proteins in corn are known as Zeins, accounting for 44–79% of the total protein content.
The fat content of corn ranges from 5–6%, making it a low-fat food. However, corn germ, an abundant side-product of corn milling, is rich in fat and used to make corn oil, which is a common cooking product. Refined corn oil is mainly composed of linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated fatty acid, while monounsaturated and saturated fats make up the rest. It also contains significant amounts of vitamin E, ubiquinone (Q10), and phytosterols, increasing its shelf life and making it potentially effective at lowering cholesterol levels.
Vitamins and minerals
Corn may contain a fair amount of several vitamins and minerals. Notably, the amount is highly variable depending on the corn type. In general, popcorn is rich in minerals, whereas sweet corn is higher in many vitamins.
This popular snack boasts several vitamins and minerals, including:
●Manganese. An essential trace element, manganese occurs in high amounts in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables.
●Phosphorus. Found in decent amounts in both popcorn and sweet corn, phosphorus is a mineral that plays an important role in the growth and maintenance of body tissues.
●Magnesium. Poor levels of this important mineral may increase your risk of many chronic illnesses, such as heart disease.
●Zinc. This trace element has many essential functions in your body.
●Copper. An antioxidant trace element, copper is generally low in the Western diet. Inadequate intake may have adverse effects on heart health.
Sweet corn boasts a number of vitamins, including:
●Pantothenic acid- Also called vitamin B5, this acid is found to some extent in nearly all foods. Thus, deficiency is rare.
●Folate- Also known as vitamin B9 or folic acid, folate is an essential nutrient, especially important during pregnancy.
●Vitamin B6- B6 is a class of related vitamins, the most common of which is pyridoxine. It serves various functions in your body.
●Niacin- Also called vitamin B3, niacin in corn is not well absorbed. Cooking corn with lime can make this nutrient more available for absorption.
●Potassium. An essential nutrient, potassium is important for blood pressure control and may improve heart health.
Regular whole-grain intake may have a number of health benefits.
Macular degeneration and cataracts are among the world’s most common visual impairments and major causes of blindness. Infections and old age are among the main causes of these diseases, but nutrition may also play a significant role.
Dietary intake of antioxidants, most notably carotenoids like Zeaxanthin and Lutein, may boost eye health. Lutein and Zeaxanthin are the predominant carotenoids in corn, accounting for approximately 70% of the total carotenoid content. High levels of these carotenoids in your blood are strongly linked to a reduced risk of both macular degeneration and cataracts.
Prevention of diverticular disease
Diverticular disease (diverticulosis) is a condition characterized by pouches in the walls of your colon. The main symptoms are cramps, flatulence, bloating, and less often bleeding and infection.
Corn is one of the most widely consumed cereal grains. As a good source of antioxidant carotenoids,
such as lutein and zeaxanthin. Yellow corn may promote eye health. It’s also a rich source of many
vitamins and minerals. For this reason, moderate consumption of whole-grain corn, such as popcorn
or sweet corn, can be an excellent addition to a healthy diet.