Corn is a well-known American side dish, a movie-goer’s favorite snack when it is popped, and a common ingredient in processed foods. With its popularity, corn might seem to hold solid nutritional value for everyone, but in some cases, corn adversely affects people and wreaks havoc on their bodies. Although it provides vitamin and antioxidant nutrition, some people are allergic to corn and corn-based products. Processed corn products, such as high-fructose corn syrup, may especially be unhealthy for some individuals, according to Princeton University research, reports Hilary Parker for “News at Princeton,” the school's information service.
Corn is a native plant of the Americas, and researchers have found evidence of its consumption 80,000 years ago, according to researchers at Iowa State University. Evidence also suggests that corn was derived from a cross between grasses and an ancient and now extinct version of maize, explain researchers Lance Gibson and Garren Benson for Iowa State. Once Europeans discovered the Americas, corn was exported to several countries throughout Europe and eventually became a valuable food addition to diets. Corn is a main ingredient in many foods worldwide, including cereal, snacks and sweeteners.
Corn contains B vitamins thiamine, B-6, niacin, riboflavin and folate, as well as trace amounts of vitamins A and E, according to the Organic Facts website. It also contains minerals, including copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc, as well as traces of potassium. Most people get corn calories from cereal products. Although corn provides vitamin and mineral nutrition, it loses its nutritional value once it’s highly processed.
If you have a corn allergy, you may knowingly or unknowingly suffer from allergy symptoms after eating foods that contain corn or corn derivatives. Allergies cause the immune system to create antibodies that trigger the release of histamines and other chemicals, according to physicians at St. John Providence Physician Network and the American Dietetic Association. These chemicals cause adverse symptoms such as tongue and throat swelling, breathing difficulty, hives, stomach cramping and digestive problems and extreme low blood pressure. A severe allergic reaction can cause a condition called anaphylaxis that can lead to death. Some health experts believe common food allergy-inducing foods like corn cause ongoing adverse health symptoms, such as headaches, depression and hyperactivity, according to Woodlands Healing Research Center.
Corn-based ingredients found in processed foods may severely affect the health of consumers, especially those who regularly eat products containing high-fructose corn syrup, reports Hilary Parker for “News at Princeton.” In research conducted at Princeton University, high-fructose corn syrup caused major weight gain in laboratory animals and further caused significant increases in abdominal fat after long-term consumption, adds Parker. Researchers believe the research results may be indicative of contributing factors for human obesity in the United States. Further, corn products fed to livestock can cause animals to be unhealthy and disease-prone, according to the alternative foods online magazine “Healthy Eating Politics” and Slanker’s Grass-fed Meats website. Eating meat derived from such unhealthy livestock may lead to illness in consumers.
Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio
The lack of naturally occurring omega-3s that are found in healthier livestock feed can lead to a poor omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in livestock fed corn products routinely. When these meats are eaten regularly by consumers, they may promote heart disease and other related human illnesses, according to Slanker’s Grass-fed Meats.
- News at Princeton; A Sweet Problem: Princeton Researchers Find That High-fructose Corn Syrup Prompts Considerably More Weight Gain; Hillary Parker; Mar. 22, 2010
- Iowa State University Department of Agronomy; Origin, History, and Uses of Corn, Zea Mays; Lance Gibson, et al.; January 2002
- Slanker’s Grass-Fed Meats: Corn, It's What's Bad for You
- St. John Providence Physician Network: Corn Allergy Nutrition Therapy