I oftentimes hear parents say that corn doesn’t count as healthy food or a vegetable because it has no nutritional value. I am not sure how corn got such a bad rap, but I’m here to clear up the confusion! Corn is a VERY healthy food! It’s a whole grain and a vegetable, and thus touts the benefits of both food groups.
Fun Fact! The average ear of corn has 800 kernels, arranged in 16 rows? There is one piece of silk for each kernel.
Corn ranks highest of US field crops in acreage, but less than 5% of that acreage goes to human consumption – it’s mostly grown as feed for livestock, used in products like ethanol and refined food products like high fructose corn syrup and corn oil. Much of the commodity corn grown for these purposes is genetically engineered and farmed very differently than the corn that we eat. We get yellow sweet corn on the cob.
Corn as a vegetable:
When it comes to eating the rainbow of produce, sweet corn checks the box for the yellow group, as it is rich in the yellow carotenoid antioxidants, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, both known for their power in eyesight.
Additionally, each ear of corn has 7% of an adults’ daily need for fiber, and almost 1/3 of the daily need of a toddler (if they can eat that much corn!). The best part of corn is something rather noticeable: it is full of insoluble fiber (meaning, you may see it going in one end AND coming out the other). Insoluble fiber is very important for gut health. Good gut bacteria thrive by eating insoluble fiber and it also keeps your digestive system moving.
Corn as a whole grain:
Corn can also be classified as a whole grain, both in sweet corn on the cob form and ground into cornmeal and used in other products like corn tortillas, popcorn, and polenta. To be sure you’re getting whole corn products, avoid the word “degerminated” in the ingredient statement, and instead opt for products with the words “whole corn” listed. Corn is a great gluten-free grain to use in cooking and baking, and it brings the nutrients of all whole grains – a good source of many of the B vitamins, like B6, niacin and pantothenic acid. Each whole grain oﬀers diﬀerent nutrients, and in the case of corn, its high point is Vitamin A – with more than 10 times that of other grains. And lastly, since corn is a grain, eating it alongside beans creates a complementary mix of amino acids that creates a more complete protein.
Corn on the cob is great on the grill or just boiled with some salt & pepper. Frozen corn is great to have in your freezer to add to stir-fry, tacos or salads. Summer isn’t complete without some delicious, fresh corn!