In recent years there’s been a great deal of debate over whether corn is actually good for you. Today we’re going to take a look at the health benefits of corn and show you why you shouldn’t be eliminating it from your diet.
1. High in Fiber
Corn is so high in fiber that it’s notoriously difficult to digest. This is why you’ve probably seen little yellow chunks in your stool before. Don’t pretend like you haven’t looked, we all have.
Although this may seem like a negative, it’s actually a positive thing because corn is an insoluble fiber, which is highly effective at combating digestive problems such as constipation and hemorrhoids. It does this by absorbing water, which subsequently swells your stool and speeds along its movement.
2. Folic Acid
The folic acid in corn has been found to prevent neural-tube birth defects. In addition, it can also help to prevent heart disease. Studies have shown that folic acid can prevent a buildup of amino acid homocysteine in the body. Long-term elevation of homocysteine has been linked to higher rates of heart disease; folic acid helps break it down.
All varieties of corn are high in antioxidants, which are important for fighting cancer-causing free radicals in your body. Recent research has shown the antioxidant benefits from different varieties of corn come from different combinations of phytonutrients. In the case of yellow corn, it’s carotenoids leading the way, with especially high concentrations of lutein and zeaxanthin. In the case of blue corn, it’s the anthocyanins. There’s one particular hydroxybenzoic acid in purple corn, protocatechuic acid, that’s also been recently linked to the strong antioxidant activity in this corn variety.
4. Blood Sugar
The protein and fiber found within corn can help to prevent too rapid or too slow an uptake of sugar from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Once the uptake of sugar is steadied, it is easier to avoid sudden spikes or drops in blood sugar. Consumption of corn in ordinary amounts of 1–2 cups has been shown to be associated with better blood sugar control in both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Fasting glucose and insulin levels have been used to verify these blood sugar benefits. Interestingly, in elementary school age and teenage youths already diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, whole grain cornbread has emerged in one study as the whole grain food with the highest acceptability among all whole grain foods.
5. Vitamin B
Corn is rich in vitamin B and its constituents, particularly thiamine and niacin. Thiamine is imperative for maintaining nerve health and cognitive function. Niacin deficiency can lead to pellagra; a disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia and dermatitis that is commonly observed in malnourished individuals.
6. Vitamin E
Corn contains high levels of vitamin E, which is essential for the general well-being and health of your body. It also helps to prevent against a myriad of diseases.
All varieties of corn are rich in phosphorous, which is essential for regulating normal growth, bone health and optimal kidney functioning.
Corn kernels are high in magnesium, which is necessary for maintaining a normal heart rate and for increasing bone strength.
9. Cancer Prevention
As previously mentioned, antioxidants can help to prevent cancer, and now we’re going to look a little more closely as to why. Corn is a rich source of an antioxidant phenolic compound called ferulic acid, an anti-carcinogenic agent that has been shown to be effective in fighting the tumors that lead to breast cancer as well as liver cancer. Anthocyanins, found in purple corn, also act as scavengers and eliminators of cancer-causing free radicals. Antioxidants have been shown to reduce many of the most dangerous forms of cancer because of their ability to induce Programmed Cell Death (PCD), whilst leaving healthy cells unaffected.
10. Prevents Anemia
The vitamin B12 and folic acid present in corn can prevent anemia caused by a deficiency in these vitamins. Corn is also high in iron, which is one of the essential minerals needed to form new red blood cells. Importantly, a deficiency in iron is one of the main causes of anemia.
11. Skin and Hair Health
Yellow corn is a great source of beta-carotene, which creates vitamin A in the body and is imperative for the maintenance of good vision and skin. Vitamin A will also benefit the health of skin and mucus membranes, as well as boosting the immune system.
Featured photo credit: Corn via acreagelife.com