It's hard to top the flavor and consistency of fresh corn on the cob. However, sometimes it is more convenient and cost-effective to use canned corn. In spite of the common perception that canned goods are less healthful than fresh produce, canned sweet corn doesn't lack for vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Canned sweet corn is a healthy dietary choice that offers many nutritional benefits.
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A cup of canned sweet white corn with no added salt contains 1.28 g of total fat, 4.99 g of protein, 39.45 g of carbohydrates and no cholesterol. The small amount of fat in canned sweet corn -- 1.28 g -- is mostly heart-healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A cup of canned sweet corn contains 1.8 g of dietary fiber, which helps provide a feeling of satiety -- or fullness -- and might help prevent overeating. In addition, dietary fiber might help protect against colon cancer. With almost 5 g of protein -- more than the amount found in a tablespoonful of peanut butter -- and a reasonable 164 calories per cup, canned sweet corn can be an important component of a well-balanced meal.
Rui Hai Lu, Cornell assistant professor of food science, reports that corn is rich in antioxidants and beneficial phytonutrients, and asserts that canned corn might offer more benefits than the fresh variety. When cooked, corn releases a compound called ferulic acid, which might help prevent cancer. In addition to ferulic acid, canned corn contains healthy amounts of minerals and vitamins. One cup contains 420 mg of potassium, significantly more than the amount found in a small banana. This essential mineral is necessary for maintaining stable blood pressure. Canned sweet corn also provides 2.404 mg of niacin -- or vitamin B-3 -- per cup. Vitamin B-3 helps release energy from food, reduce high blood pressure and maintain a healthy digestive tract. Finally, lutein and zeaxanthin -- a pair of antioxidant carotenoids that might help prevent macular degeneration, an age-related eye disease -- are present, with 82 mg per cup.
Canned sweet corn can be high in salt, with some brands containing as much as 545 mg of sodium per cup -- close to a quarter of the recommended dietary allowance. MedlinePlus reports that excessive dietary salt can lead to fluid retention and increased blood pressure in sodium-sensitive individuals; the website recommends getting no more than 2,300 mg of sodium a day. If you are over 51, are African American or have high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease, the recommended amount is no more than 1,500 mg per day. Look for canned corn with no added salt; the sodium level drops to a modest 31 mg per cup.
Virtually no side effects are tied to canned sweet corn, unless you are allergic to corn. In that case, you should avoid not only canned sweet corn, but also cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, corn sweeteners and popcorn. Doctors used to advise people with diverticulitis -- an inflammation of the tiny pouches in the small intestine -- to avoid nuts, seeds and corn; that caveat is less common today. According to MedPage Today, research has shown that corn is harmless in those with diverticulitis. However, if you have diverticulitis and experience worsening of symptoms after eating corn, you should avoid it.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- Medrounds.org; "Lutein/Zeaxanthin"; James Folk; August 2005
- Science Daily; "Cooking Sweet Corn Boosts Disease-Fighting Nutrients"; August 2002
- MedlinePlus: Sodium in Diet
- Medpage Today; "Nuts and Corn Held Blameless in Diverticular Disease"; Todd Neale; August 2008
- Vitamin UK: Vitamin B Complex
- USDA National Nutrient Database