9 Proven Benefits of Corn

by Meenakshi Nagdeve last updated - Medically reviewed by Zemira Barnes (MS)

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Corn or maize is one of the most popular cereals in the world and forms the staple food in many countries. If you are wondering where most of the tortilla chips come from, they come from a cereal grain called corn. It is an extremely healthy grain that helps in managing diabetes and preventing chronic heart conditions. Eating corn may also help you regulate your blood pressure and lower the risk of neural-tube defects during childbirth.

What is Corn?

Corn, also known as maize is a cereal grain that originated in southern Mexico. The kernels or seeds of corn are the most commonly consumed parts as they are abundantly nutritious. They come in multiple colors, depending on where corn is grown and what species or variety they happen to be.

Sweetcorn is another genetic variant and it has more sugar and less starch in the nutritive material.

Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, corn not only provides the necessary calories for healthy, daily metabolism but is also a rich source of vitamins A, B, E, and many minerals. Its high dietary fiber content ensures that it plays a significant role in the prevention of digestive ailments like constipation. The antioxidants present in it also act as anti-carcinogenic agents and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Corn Calories

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, the calories in corn differ on the basis of its preparation. So let’s take a look at them.

  • Calories in 100 g of yellow corn grain: 365
  • Calories in 100 g of yellow boiled corn, with salt: 96
  • Calories in 100 g of yellow boiled corn, without salt: 96

Watch Video: 8 Great Benefits Of Corn

8 Reasons Why Corn Is Healthy For You | Organic Facts

Health Benefits of Corn

Corn provides many health benefits due to the presence of quality nutrients within. Besides being a delicious addition to any meal, it’s richness in phytochemicals provides protection against a number of chronic diseases. The well-researched and widespread health benefits are listed below.

Prevents Hemorrhoids

The fiber content of one cup of corn amounts to 18.4% of the daily recommended amount. This aids in alleviating digestive problems such as constipation and hemorrhoids, as well as lowering the risk of colon cancer due to maize being a whole-grain.

A study by Dr. Arthur Schatzkin, former chief of the nutritional epidemiology branch at the US National Cancer Institute (NCI) concludes, “Total dietary fiber intake is not associated with colorectal cancer risk, whereas whole-grain consumption is associated with a modestly reduced risk.”

Dietary fiber can help bulk and soften stools, promoting regular elimination and decreasing straining. This process is done by stimulating the peristaltic motion and the production of gastric juice and bile. By adding bulk to loose stools, the chances for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhea can be greatly reduced.

Promotes Growth

Corn is rich in vitamin B constituents, especially thiamin and niacin. Thiamin is essential for maintaining nerve health and cognitive function. Niacin deficiency leads to pellagra; a disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia, and dermatitis that is commonly observed in malnourished individuals. It is also a good source of pantothenic acid, which is an essential vitamin for carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism in the body.

The deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women can lead to the birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects in newborns. Corn provides a significant percentage of the daily folate requirement, thus preventing this condition. The kernels are also rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant that is essential for the growth and protection of the body from illness and diseases.

Sliced and fresh corn ears with leaves on a wooden table

Corns kept on a table Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Weight Gain

Corn, especially the yellow variety, is a rich source of calories and is a staple in many places. The calorific content of sweet yellow and white corn is 96 calories per 100 grams. This is why it is often turned to for quick weight gain.

Provides Essential Minerals

Corn contains abundant minerals that positively benefit the body in a number of ways, says a study conducted by Dr. Phil Warman, Nova Scotia Agricultural College, Canada.

Phosphorus, along with magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron, and copper are some of the essential nutrients that are found in all varieties of corn. It also contains trace minerals like selenium, which are difficult to find in most diets. Phosphorus is essential for regulating normal growth, bone health, and optimal kidney functioning. Magnesium is necessary for maintaining a normal heart rate and for increasing bone mineral density.

Nutrition Facts

Corn grain, yellow
Serving Size :
Water [g]10.37
Energy [kcal]365
Energy [kJ]1527
Protein [g]9.42
Total lipid (fat) [g]4.74
Ash [g]1.2
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]74.26
Fiber, total dietary [g]7.3
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.64
Calcium, Ca [mg]7
Iron, Fe [mg]2.71
Magnesium, Mg [mg]127
Phosphorus, P [mg]210
Potassium, K [mg]287
Sodium, Na [mg]35
Zinc, Zn [mg]2.21
Copper, Cu [mg]0.31
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.49
Selenium, Se [µg]15.5
Thiamin [mg]0.39
Riboflavin [mg]0.2
Niacin [mg]3.63
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.42
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.62
Folate, total [µg]19
Folate, food [µg]19
Folate, DFE [µg]19
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]11
Carotene, beta [µg]97
Carotene, alpha [µg]63
Vitamin A, IU [IU]214
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]1355
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.49
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.67
16:0 [g]0.57
18:0 [g]0.08
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]1.25
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]1.25
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]2.16
18:2 [g]2.1
18:3 [g]0.07
Tryptophan [g]0.07
Threonine [g]0.35
Isoleucine [g]0.34
Leucine [g]1.16
Lysine [g]0.27
Methionine [g]0.2
Cystine [g]0.17
Phenylalanine [g]0.46
Tyrosine [g]0.38
Valine [g]0.48
Arginine [g]0.47
Histidine [g]0.29
Alanine [g]0.71
Aspartic acid [g]0.66
Glutamic acid [g]1.77
Glycine [g]0.39
Proline [g]0.82
Serine [g]0.45
Sources include : USDA

Protects Your Heart

According to research, corn oil has been shown to have an anti-atherogenic effect on cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of various cardiovascular diseases. Corn oil, in particular, is the best way to improve heart health and this is derived from the fact that corn is close to an optimal fatty acid combination. This allows omega-3 fatty acids to strip away the damaging LDL or bad cholesterol and replace them at the binding sites. This can reduce the chances of arteries becoming clogged, lower blood pressure, and minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke.

According to a study by Dr. Robert Nicolosi, University of Massachusetts, US, consumption of corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL or bad cholesterol by reducing cholesterol absorption in the body. As mentioned earlier, this reduction in LDL cholesterol does not mean a reduction in HDL or good cholesterol, which can have beneficial effects on the body. They include the reduction of heart diseases, prevention of atherosclerosis, and general scavenging of free radicals throughout the body.

Prevents Anemia

Corn helps prevent anemia caused by a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. It also contains iron, which is one of the essential minerals needed to form new red blood cells; a deficiency of iron is one of the main causes of anemia as well. Many studies also connect vitamin A and beta carotene with increased absorption of iron.

Eye & Skin Care

Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene, which forms vitamin A in the body and is essential for the maintenance of good vision and skin. As per a study published in the Science journal, beta-carotene is a great source of vitamin A because it is converted into the body according to the amount required. Vitamin A can be toxic if too much is consumed, so deriving it through beta-carotene transformation is ideal. It may also benefit the health of skin and mucous membranes, as well as boost the immune system.

The amount of beta-carotene in the body that is not converted into vitamin A acts as a very strong antioxidant, like all carotenoids, and can combat diseases like cancer and heart disease. That being said, people who smoke need to be careful about their beta-carotene intake, because some studies suggest that smoking and high beta-carotene levels are more likely to contract lung cancer, while non-smokers with high beta-carotene content are less likely to contract lung cancer.

Manages Diabetes

In recent decades, the world has seemed to suffer from an epidemic of diabetes. Although the exact mechanism for this cannot be pinpointed, it is generally related to nutrition.

According to a study published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness in 2018 have shown that consumption of whole grains is related to a decreased risk in the development of type 2 diabetes. According to the Journal of Medicinal Food, consumption of its kernels assists in the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and is effective against hypertension due to the presence of phenolic phytochemicals in whole corn. Phytochemicals can regulate the absorption and release of insulin in the body, which can reduce the chance of spikes and drops for people with diabetes and help them maintain a healthy lifestyle, as per the British Journal of Nutrition.

Cosmetic Benefits

Cornstarch is used in the manufacturing of many cosmetic products and may also be applied topically to soothe skin rashes and irritation. Its products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which are major components of many cosmetic preparations. Many of the traditional skin creams contain petroleum jelly as a base material, which can often block pores and make skin conditions even worse. Furthermore, cosmetic use of corn oil in skin cleansing and wrinkle-reducing cream has been patented by Dr. Donald E. Barker, professor of surgery, Department of Surgery, for the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, US.

How to Select and Store Corn?

The two types of corn include sweet corn and field corn. Sweet corn is more commonly consumed, and field corn is usually grounded and used in the production of flour. You can pick sweet corn for most of the culinary purposes. While buying fresh corn make sure the husks are not dried out.

It is easily available across supermarkets all over the world. It’s always good to consume fresh corn; however, frozen corn can also be used. Also, consume corn within a few days to ensure good taste. For storing it, you may keep the husk and store it in airtight containers in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life.

Quick Ideas to Serve

  • Steamed corn: Clean the fresh corns and cook them in a container filled with water. Add butter, lime, pepper, and/or salt to the cooked corn for additional flavor.
  • Soups: Add the cooked kernels to soups like you add croutons in soups for additional flavor.
  • Salads: Mix chopped onion, tomato, lettuce, and cooked corn kernels in a bowl. Season with salt, pepper, lime juice, and olive oil.

Word of Caution

Corn does contain large amounts of fatty acid, so for people who are already at high risk of heart diseases, excess corn or corn oil can dangerously exacerbate those conditions and risks. Also, corn is frequently turned into high fructose corn syrup, which is extracted from corn to use as a sweetener. It is worse than table sugar and is a cause of obesity, as well as has a negative impact on your blood sugar levels.

Corn is a rich source of many essential nutrients and fiber. A meal rich in corn can go a long way in protecting against many diseases. So start shucking!

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About the Author

Meenakshi Nagdeve, Co-Founder, Organic Facts is a health and wellness enthusiast and is responsible for managing it. She has completed the Nutrition And Healthy Living Cornell Certificate Program, Cornell University, US. She holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from IIM Bangalore and B. Tech in Metallurgical Engineering and Materials Science from IIT Bombay. Prior to this, she worked for a few years in IT and Financial services. An ardent follower of naturopathy, she believes in healing with foods. In her free time, she loves to travel and taste different types of teas.

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