Rainbow Color Group: Orange/ Yellow
Some call it a vegetable, some call it starch. It is indeed both - a starchy vegetable. Unlike white rice in which 2 components of the grain have been stripped, corn is indeed a type of whole grain - containing all 3 parts of the grain. Regardless of what it’s classified as, corn is a summer favorite around the world. And June 11th is dedicated to be “Corn on the Cob Day” in the West!
There have been talks that corn is a health food while some say it may cause a blood sugar spike. Read on for more details and learn how to reap the health benefits of corn.
1 cup of corn kernels from a cob contains:
- Calories: 143
- Carbohydrates: 31.3 g
- Sugar: 6.8 g
- Fibre: 3.6 g
- Fat: 2.2 g
- Protein: 5.1 g
- Glycemic Index: 48 (Low)
- Gluten Free: Yes
3 reasons to eat more corn
- Corn may protect your eyes
Yellow vegetables have a common unique feature; they are good sources of carotenoids. Corn, in particular, is high in lutein and zeaxanthin, both are carotenoids that are crucial in maintaining eye health. In particular, these carotenoids help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and formation of cataracts. Indeed, the organ with the highest concentration of lutein and zeaxanthin is the macular region in our eyes. And one cup of corn kernels provides 1,350 ug of combined lutein and zeaxanthin.One study looked into a group of adults between the ages of 55 and 80 and compared their diet and eye health. Those who had the highest intake of carotenoids, especially lutein and zeaxanthin, had a 43% lower chance of developing AMD.
- Help manage blood sugar by using corn to replace rice
There is a huge misconception that corn is high in sugar. Yes, as a vegetable, corn is sweeter than most others. But there is only 4.7 grams of natural sugar in an average cob. In other words, it has ⅓ of the sugar found in an apple. Despite being a starchy vegetable, the take-home message of eating corn, is that we should treat it as a starch, not a vegetable. If you look at the nutrition data listed above, you will notice that the nutritional profile of corn sits right in the middle between vegetables and starch. One cup of corn provides 143 calories, whereas one cup of cooked vegetable provides about 40 calories and one cup of cooked white rice provides 240 calories. Hence it’s true that corn has more sugar than leafy vegetables, but it is a healthier option compared to white rice. Compared to our typical starch options, the glycemic index of corn is much lower and has a much higher fiber content! Thus, this really makes corn a much healthier option to replace rice.
- Help manage weight
As a whole grain, corn has more protein than many vegetables and refined grains. One single cob already provides 3.5 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fiber; both nutrients help provide satiety and makes us feel full for longer. Again, enjoy corn as a starch replacement and help keep waistline at bay.
How to choose corn at the store
Whether it’s fresh, frozen or canned, corn is widely available at grocery stores and at wet markets. When choosing corn, look for ones with fresh green husks. Avoid dried out husks or ones that are beginning to peel. Keep the husk on until you are ready to cook; it will help keep your corn last longer and taste better.
Corn is best eaten the day you buy it but if you do plan on storing them, do not peel the husk and remember to keep them in your refrigerator to maintain freshness. If you really want to keep corn for longer than a few days, you can blanch and freeze them.
Alternately, when fresh corn on the cob is not available, there are canned and frozen corn kernels as well. Quickly rinse canned corn kernels under water to help remove salt.
Don’t forget popcorn too! This increasingly popular snack is also a whole grain too! Just watch out for the added sugar and salt.
How to include more corn in your diet
- Serve corn as a starch option: Fresh corn on the cob can be cooked by boiling or grilling. Eat it as is, or drizzle it with melted butter and salt.
- Served as a side dish: Frozen corn kernels can be heated and then added to salads, vegetable dishes and soup.
- Enjoy it in the morning: Mix corn kernels, colorful bell peppers, baby spinach, mushrooms with eggs and create a wholesome omelette.