How Organic Corn is Healthy Corn
Nothing says “summer” to me more than a couple of ears of sweet corn, a tomato and cucumber salad, the barbeque fired up and awaiting delicious cookin’s, and a few beers shared with friends and family. A lot of people avoid corn for a variety of reasons of “health” and wellness, and I’m here today to discuss just how great corn is for you, your body and the people around you.
To the boards!
Corn, commonly known as maize, has been around for millennia and is one of the Three Sisters (the other two being squash and beans). Archaeological studies have pointed to corn being domesticated as far back as 10,000 B.C. and is considered one of the gateway crops in humans transition from hunter/gatherer to agricultural. As early as 2500 B.C. corn (maize!) starting spreading widely and rapidly, and has been known to have been cultivated in the Americas as far back as 2100 B.C.
In the past, corn has been grown and then ground up after harvest, to use for various cooking methods. Only relatively recently (the 1800’s) has corn been bred to be grown, harvested and eaten in the variety most of us are used to now.
2. Organic vs GMO
Corn has gotten a lot of grief lately because of its close link to GMO productions and, to a greater extent, Monsanto and their genetic patents. For this article we are going to skip the issues that surround the complex and heated issues of GMO productions. We are instead going to be chatting about the wonderful benefits of organic corn, and more specifically, sweet corn. Monsanto has recently indicated that they will be introducing a brand of sweet corn that will be in production shortly. In the future, if you are not sure if you corn is organic or GMO, or, if you just want to avoid GMO sweet corn altogether, just ask the farm or market where you purchased it, and they should be able to give you the answer.
3. Nutrition Benefits
Aside from obvious dietary fiber benefits, corn is packed with vitamin B1, B5, vitamin C, folate, phosphorus and manganese. An ear of corn (considered approximately ½ cup of corn) has about 75 calories, 2 grams of protein and has almost no cholesterol. Corn also includes phytonutrient and antioxidant contents that vary in extent depending on the color of the corn.
The health benefits of eating corn brought by folates are remarkable, as well. This vitamin helps pregnant women in development of their baby’s brain during the early stages of pregnancy. Folate also helps protect our heart against diseases like stroke and heart attacks.
4. Corn: Cancer Fighter and Preventer – Amaizing!
Corn contains phytonutrients as bound phenolics, meaning that it requires the help of the bacteria in the colon to break it down to a useful form so that the human body can absorb it. Therefore, consuming corn reduces the chances of developing colon cancer. It also contains beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid that has antioxidant properties. The antioxidants fight the free radicals that are capable of causing cancer. The cancer-causing free radicals are also destroyed by anthocyanins that are found in purple corn. Corn also contains an anti-cancer agent, phenolic compound ferulic acid that is effective in fighting tumors in liver cancer and breast cancer.
5. Corn Makes You Smarter
Corn contains thiamine, which helps in the functioning of the brain cells to enable you to execute cognitive duties. It is used as a synthesis for the neurotransmitter, acetylocholine that helps in strengthening the memory and delays the formation of Alzheimer’s disease and development of age related senility. The presence of lutein in corn helps in slowing down the rate of cognitive decline.
6. I Can See! (better)
The presence of antioxidants in corn can delay the development of age-related eye disease known as macular degeneration. Yellow corn is high in carotenoid lutein that is a phytochemical with antioxidant properties. This component can lessen the risk of developing age-related vision loss that is caused by continuing oxidative damage of the retina. Besides serving as an antioxidant, the lutein may serve as a filter to provide protection to the retina against the oxidative effect of blue light. Lutein along with zeaxanthin reduces the risk of developing nuclear cataract.
Bet You Didn’t Know:
- Corn is grown on every continent except Antarctica.
- The corncob (ear) is actually part of the corn plant’s flower.
- For better or worse, corn (in its greater production) has more than 3,500 uses.
If it has been awhile since you’ve had your last ear of organic corn, for whatever reason, I would head out to your local farmers market and grab a bagful, bring it back and cook it up. I prefer sweet corn without butter or salt (and I’m a HUGE butter lover, just ask my wife), but many people put butter and a dash of salt on it.
Best way to cook corn:
Steam it. This retains all of corn’s nutrients, some of which are water soluble. Don’t have a steamer big enough? Take big pot, shuck corn, put naked ears in pot. Cover with water, place on stove, and turn burner on high. When water starts to boil, your corn is ready.
(Over-cooking it can cause it to become tough, rather than crisp)
Have you had some fresh corn this summer? What are you doing with any leftover corn? Let us know in the comments below!