Corn is a very special food, falling into not just one food category, but two. The kernels you eat off the cob are classified as vegetables, but if you dry and pop those kernels into popcorn, it is considered a grain. Corn is also a nutritional powerhouse, rich in antioxidants and fiber. If you're looking for a yellow or white vegetable to add to your veggie rainbow, corn offers a lot of nutritional value.
- Calories: 125 in yellow corn; 132 in white corn
- Protein: 4.7 grams in yellow corn; 5 grams in white corn
- Carbohydrates: 27 grams in yellow corn; 29 grams in white corn
- Total fat: 2 grams in yellow corn; 1.8 grams in white corn
A Word About GMOs
Some of the corn you find at grocery stores and farmers markets may be genetically modified, which means the corn has been genetically engineered to resist herbicides and make its own insecticide. The primary concerns people have about eating genetically modified foods include allergic reaction to the gene, the transfer of the gene from the genetically modified food to your body, and the transfer of the modified gene to other crops. You can avoid genetically modified corn by buying organic corn and corn products.
Read more: 6 Reasons to Avoid GMOs
Improves Blood Pressure
Eating corn may help lower blood pressure. One cup of yellow corn contains 392 milligrams of potassium, and 1 cup of white corn contains 416 milligrams. Getting more potassium in your diet can improve blood pressure by lowering the effects of sodium. The higher your intake of potassium, the larger your reduction in blood pressure may be if you have hypertension.
The American Heart Association recommends 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day. Eating corn, whether yellow or white, can help you meet your daily needs. However, eating foods high in potassium isn't good for everyone, specifically older adults and people with kidney disease. If you're not sure about your potassium needs, talk to your doctor.
Rich in Antioxidants
Like other vegetables, corn can help you fight the good fight against cell-damaging free radicals, which are the natural byproducts of chemical processes in your body, such as metabolism, or from exposure to environmental pollutants.
Antioxidants are important to your immune system to help decrease your risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic diseases. Corn is a better source of antioxidants than wheat, rice or oats. The antioxidants found in corn include carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin E.
Read more: How Much Antioxidants in a Day?
Good for Your Eyes
Corn contains carotenoids that are especially good for your eyes: lutein and zeaxanthin. As antioxidants, lutein and zeaxanthin protect the healthy cells in your eyes against damaging high-energy blue wavelengths of light.
The American Optometric Association reports that the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin may help protect you from developing chronic eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts, and eating foods rich in these nutrients, like corn, is recommended.
A 1-cup serving of yellow corn has 2.9 grams of fiber, and the same serving of white corn has 4.2 grams of fiber. Most of the fiber in corn is insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is not dissolved by your gastrointestinal fluids and stays unchanged.
Fiber adds bulk to your stools, which may help prevent constipation and hemorrhoids in addition to helping to rid your body of toxins. Because it is not digested, insoluble fiber does not contain any calories.
Read more: What Does Fiber Do for Your Body?
- Food Science and Human Wellness: Corn Phytochemicals and Their Health Benefits
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Corn, Sweet, Yellow, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Corn, Sweet, White, Raw
- World Health Organization: 20 Questions on Genetically Modified Foods
- American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
- American Optometric Association: Lutein & Zeaxanthin
- EatingWell: What’s Fresh: Is Corn Healthy Or Not?