Maize or corn offers multiple health benefits. It is rich in fiber and many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.Corn is not only one of the most popular cereal but is also used to make many food items such as tortillas, polenta, cornmeal, corn flour and corn oil.
Sweet corn and popcorn are the other two most popular snack items.
Corn holds all its nutrients in the kernel and that is the most commonly consumed part of this vegetable.
Nutrition Details of Corn
Corn is high in carbohydrates and fiber providing energy and proper metabolism. It also contains good amounts of vitamins and antioxidants.
Following are key nutrients of corn per 100 grams in percentage of daily value
- Total fat 7%
- Sodium 1%
- Potassium 8%
- Magnesium 31%
- Iron 15%
- Total carbohydrates 24%
- Protein 18%
- Vitamin B6 30%
Health Benefits of Corn
1. Gluten Free
It is a general practice to group corn with grains. In fact it is not actually a grain but a vegetable. It is gluten free, therefore people with gluten intolerance will find corn flour a better substitute for grain flour.
Gluten generally causes bloating cramping diarrhoea constipation and other metabolic problems in addition to causing fatigue and skin problems in certain people with celiac disease and gluten allergies.
Even if you do not have gluten allergy you may still have these metabolic and skin problems with gluten.
2. Digestive Benefits of Corn
Corn is a fiber rich food item. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber that offer multiple health benefits. Insoluble fiber helps in producing bulk in the stool making it soft and easy to pass. So problems like constipation and other intestinal difficulties such as irritable bowel syndrome are removed.
The insoluble fiber content of corn is higher than the soluble fiber which provides heart health benefits. Soluble fiber also helps in reducing metabolism problems.
3. Rich Source of Vitamin B6
Corn is rich in thiamine and niacin both are essential to maintain good health. Thiamine maintains nerve health and is essential to maintain your cognitive functions.
Niacin helps to maintain digestive health as well as protects from dementia and skin problems. Vitamin B6 is water soluble nutrients. They get absorbed by the body fluid. The biggest advantages of such nutrients is that all the excess amount is excreted through the urine. You really don't have to worry about excess consumption. You simply need to ensure that you don't have deficiency.
4. Reduces Anemia
Corn helps to reduce anemia in people with iron deficiency. Iron deficiency causes fatigue and weakness due to less blood cell production which are responsible to carry oxygen to cells.
Iron helps metabolism of fat and protein to convert to red blood cells. 100 grams of corn contains 18 % of the daily value of iron for men and 24% for women. If consumed sensibly corn can reduce iron deficiency in many pregnant women who may give birth to underweight children due to the deficiency.
5. Controls Hypertension
Corn is a rich source of essential minerals such as potassium 8% and magnesium 31% of daily value. Both these minerals are important for heart and overall good health.
Potassium in specific is essential in today's lifestyle where we eat a lot of sodium due to fast food culture. This must be balanced with higher intake of potassium to maintain specific default potassium sodium ratio. Otherwise rising sodium levels can increase water retention causing hypertension.
The high content of magnesium also helps reduce blood pressure as it calms nerves and anxiety in addition to relieving muscles aches and spasm. Other benefits of magnesium include prevention of migraine headaches, constipation relief and prevention of osteoporosis.
6. Lowers bad Cholesterol
One of the biggest health benefits comes from consumption of corn husk oil. It reduces LDL cholesterol and maintains the level of good cholesterol HDL.
This improves the HDL to LDL ratio. Lower LDL and High HDL are very heart healthy combinations. It prevents artery blockages (atherosclerosis) and other cardiovascular conditions.
7. Controls Diabetes
Diabetes has become a major concern in today's lifestyle. lack of activities and wrong choices of foods have become major contributors to diabetes.
Studies have shown that corn kernels assist in management of Diabetes type 2 due to presence of phenolic phytochemicals which regulates absorption and release of insulin.
8. Improves Eye Health
Corn contains a good amount of antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which prevent macular degeneration and cataracts. Both these conditions are the most common causes of blindness and other visual impairments.
Lutein and zeaxanthin are found in human retina where they protect against the oxidative damages. High amounts of these carotenoids in retina have been found to protect the vision much better and longer than the low levels in the retina.
In fact in addition to lutein and zeaxanthin corn contains many other phytochemicals as listed below:
- caffeic acid
- coumaric acid
- ferulic acid
- protocatechuic acid
- syringic acid
- vanillic acid
Eat corn and other foods containing both lutein and zeaxanthin to protect your eyes from blindness.
Minor Disadvantage of Corn
Corn also contains some elements that are not good for absorbing other nutrients from other foods. Whole grain corn contains phytic acid which retards the absorption of dietary iron and zinc. This is a problem if you are a vegetarian.
In that case one needs to soak, ferment or sprout corn to reduce the levels of phytic acid. The best way to eat corn is to quickly boil it for about 10 minutes and then remove from the water. Add rock salt and lemon juice in the right quantities. Steaming corn helps in reducing the impact of phytic acid.
Other care you must take is to avoid GMO Corn. Always use organic corn. GMO corn has Glyphosate which draws out the vital nutrients of living things. So, GMO corn will have significantly lower mineral contents than the non - GMO corn.