Why Sweet Corn Is Actually Healthy For You

Recently, corn has been unfairly portrayed as unhealthy — especially as we’ve become more aware of how it’s (surprisingly) used to make a whole slew of other foods. Yes, some of these foods, such as chips and similar highly processed junk food are definitely bad for us. However, that doesn’t mean that corn, especially in it’s purest, freshest, right off the cob form is unhealthy. In fact, corn has a whole slew of health benefits you likely weren’t previously aware of. Curious? Well, read on and let me tell you just why you should start looking at that ear of corn differently…

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IT'S HIGH IN FIBRE

You may already be familiar with the effects corn can have on speeding up your digestive system, but did you know that’s because of the high amount of insoluble fiber it has? For every cup of corn — roughly one large ear of corn — there’s 4 grams of fiber, about 1/5th of our daily need.

Since the fiber in corn is insoluble, it’s a big player in moving stool and harmful carcinogens through the digestive track. Without getting too graphic, this means that it’s a top choice for tackling common digestive problems like constipation, while at the same time can help in preventing more serious health issues like colon cancer.

IT'S A GREAT SOURCE OF VITAMIN C AND ANTIOXIDANTS

Our bodies love Vitamin C and every serving of corn contains 15% of our daily need for Vitamin C (woohoo!). Getting the right amount of Vitamin C in our diet is important for the growth and repair of all tissues in our body, including hair and skin, and helps us maintain healthy bones and teeth.

Additionally, the yellow variety of corn (and, we warn you, there are quite a few varieties of corn) is all around high in antioxidants — not just Vitamin C — which play a role in preventing your chances of caner and lowering blood pressure. It also contains Vitamin E and is a better source of antioxidants than rice, wheat, or oats.

FOLATE IN CORN HELPS YOU STAY HEART HEALTHY

Folate, or folic acid, is essential for staying heart healthy and preventing any cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks. Actually, folate is not only important for healthy hearts, but also for preventing birth defects when consumed by expecting mothers. And as you may have been guessing we’d say, that’s right, corn has a significant amount of folate in each serving. In short, your heart will heart you for eating more corn.

IT'S LOW CALORIE

Well, at least, until you get it dripping with melted butter and salt (mmm!). On it’s own though, corn on the cob is about 75 calories for one ear - according to Worlds Healthiest Foods - a low number in anyone’s book! Similarly, a 3-cup serving of plain popcorn — again, without the butter — is only a mere 93 calories, making it a great low-cal snack to munch on between meals, at the movies, or while cooking up a delicious dinner. Unlike high-calorie snacks like nuts or chips, you can munch on that seemingly-endless bowl of popcorn without cheating on your diet.

IT'S LOW IN FAT

LIkewise, depending on how you prepare corn (grilled, boiled, and without the excess butter) it’s an incredibly low fat dish. One serving of corn (about half a cup) only contains 1 gram of fat, and even then it’s the heart-healthy mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fat that your body needs as part of a healthy diet. So go on now, grab a second serving and don’t you dare feel guilty about it!

IT'S A COMPLEX CARBOHYDRATE

There’s a false perception that “all carbs are bad” (perhaps perpetuated by the Atkin’s diet fad).Unlike simple carbohydrates which are refined sugars, complex carbohydrates are, well, more complex and take longer for our bodies to digest. Because of this, they are an important source of energy and act as the body’s fuel, helping us to stay awake, energized, and alert.

So, next time you’re reaching that 3 o’clock slump? Reach for a complex-carbohydrate rich dish… like corn! 

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In reality, corn, by itself is not an unhealthy food. The way we consume and prepare corn however, can be unhealthy - which is probably why it’s been getting a bad reputation lately. For starters, smothering an ear of corn with butter and salt (our favorite way to eat corn on the cob), will undoubtedly turn that healthy food choice into a less than good for you side dish. Popcorn is only high calorie when it’s mixed with other junk. Other butter and corn heavy foods, such as corn bread, are likewise high in calories and fat — but in all of these examples, it’s not the corn’s fault, it’s the other ingredients.

Secondly, corn is the main ingredient in high fructose corn syrup, which often replaces natural sugar in many common Canadian foods, like yogurt, bread, and and soda. Why? Because it’s cheap. However, no matter what you hear about the ill effects of high fructose corn syrup, it’s important to maintain a distinction between corn syrup and natural corn. Whereas high fructose corn syrup has been linked to obesity and heart disease, natural corn has been proven to have the complete opposite effect. It helps prevent both!

Conclusion

It’s time we stood up for corn. It’s long been one of our most important crops and an essential part of the North American diet. When cooked correctly, corn can be a great source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and the complex-carbohydrates that give us all energy. Not to mention, it’s low calorie and low fat, making it a guilt-free addition to our meat-centric summer BBQs!

Alaeddine Jabri