Some things are synonymous with summer, including vacation, running through the sprinkler, popsicles, watermelon and BBQs. If you’ve ever attended a BBQ, more than likely you’ve eaten corn on the cob — another staple of the summer months.
Food crazes come and go, and people often question exactly what is healthy and what isn’t healthy to feed to your family. Recently, corn has come under suspicion as being unhealthy for you and your family to eat. However, there are some surprising health benefits to eating corn.
While the decision is ultimately yours on whether your feed your family corn or not, below are a few things to consider.
There Are Two Different Varieties of Corn
There are two types of corn: field corn and sweet corn. Most humans don’t consume field corn because it is tough and not sweet. Field corn is grown specifically to be fed to livestock and to make ethanol and other biofuels. Sweet corn is the corn we humans like to consume. The kernels are tender, juicy and full of sweet goodness.
The vast majority of field corn has been genetically modified to resist pests and herbicides. Monsanto developed and marketed a variety of genetically modified sweet corn, but it doesn’t seem to be the most popular corn product on the market. Only a very small percentage of total sweet corn crops has been found to be genetically modified. This is good news for those who worry about what types of crops you put into you and your family’s bodies. If this is a major concern, look for the USDA organic label. That will guarantee you are getting pure sweet corn.
Corn Is Not Loaded With Sugar
Sweet corn’s taste can be deceiving. Despite the fact that it has a sweet, sugary flavor, sweet corn is not loaded with sugar. In fact, the amount of calories in sweet corn is almost equal to the amount of calories in an apple, but sweet corn has less sugar. That makes it one healthy option! However, putting lots of butter and salt on your corn pushes it into the not-so-healthy category, as these toppings are full of fat and sodium.
Natural corn can be confused with high-fructose corn syrup, which is sweet and not healthy for you. It was originally adopted by the food industry in the 1970s as a sugar substitute. Currently, food manufacturers use it to sweeten a variety of products, from soda to salad dressings to breakfast cereals. High-fructose corn syrup is so bad for you because of the amount of fructose contained in the product, which our livers have a hard time processing.
Whole-kernel corn has a sweet taste, but it is not loaded with sugar. To ensure you and your family are getting the best health benefits from corn, make sure to choose the whole-kernel variety and steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup, which is just as sweet, but not nearly as healthy.
Cooked Corn Has Health Benefits
Cooking corn releases the chemicals zeaxanthin and lutein, which promote healthy vision. Corn also has antioxidant properties that help protect your body against heart disease and cancer. In addition, a cup of cooked sweet corn has other nutrients your body needs to be healthy, including five grams of protein, 9 percent of your daily amount of potassium, four grams of fiber and only 143 calories.
Sweet corn is also loaded with vitamins, including A, B and E, along with a variety of minerals, such as copper, zinc, magnesium, iron, manganese and phosphorous. Having enough magnesium in your diet helps you maintain a normal heart rate and increases bone strength, while phosphorous regulates growth, kidney function and bone health. The high fiber content helps reduce your chances of constipation, hemorrhoids, IBS and diarrhea. That’s a lot of nutrition in a small package — but corn also has so many more health benefits! Just make sure you keep some dental floss on hand, because corn is is notorious for getting stuck in your teeth.
Home-Popped Corn Has Benefits, Too
Most parents are incredibly conscious of what their families snack on. They want to make sure kids are getting something nutritious that will keep up their energy levels and promote healthy living. Home-popped corn has those benefits.
It’s easy to be skeptical about the health benefits of popcorn. It tastes delicious, so it has to be bad, right? However, if you pop the corn at home using the whole kernel, it is actually good for you. Popped corn is packed with fiber and polyphenols, which have been shown to prevent diabetes, osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Popcorn can be a great substitute for chips and other salty snacks because of its crunch and flavor. However, be aware that not all popcorn is healthy. To get the most benefit out of popcorn, it has to be home-popped. Microwave popcorn is loaded with fat, unhealthy oils and other additives that aren’t good for you. Both kettle corn and caramel corn are also loaded with extra sugars.
Like corn on the cob, the toppings you put on your popcorn impact how healthy it is for you. Watch the amount of butter and salt you add so you aren’t turning a healthy snack into an unhealthy one. That also applies to the oil you pop your corn in, so make choices that will taste great, but still benefit you and your family.
Sweet corn is a tradition and staple of summer. It’s sweet, delicious taste makes it popular among a wide variety of people, and its health benefits make it a good choice of vegetable to feed your family. By keeping the unhealthy toppings to a minimum, you can feel good knowing corn on the cob and home-popped corn are satisfying your family’s hunger and filling them full of goodness.