corn

Don’t Eat Enough Whole Grains? This is One Everyone Loves

 

If you’re having a hard time getting enough whole grains into your diet, corn might be the easy fix you need.

Both a vegetable and a whole grain, corn has been unfairly dismissed in recent decades as little more than a vehicle for butter and salt, and a source of starchy, empty calories. The skepticism comes in part from negative health outcomes associated with high-fructose corn syrup, a ubiquitous ingredient in processed foods.

But fresh corn—and popcorn, too—can play a key role in a healthy diet, supplying you with fiber, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals that can improve vision. Corn has long been a staple ingredient in Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, where centenarians have traditionally leaned on their agricultural “three sisters”: corn, squash, and beans.

[Related: Fresh Corn, Avocado, and Cilantro Tacos with Pinto Beans]

But fresh corn—and popcorn, too—can play a key role in a healthy diet, supplying you with fiber, plenty of vitamins and minerals, and phytochemicals that can improve vision. Click To Tweet

nicoyan centenarian holding corn

Corn has long been a staple ingredient in Costa Rica’s Nicoya Peninsula, where centenarians have traditionally leaned on their agricultural three sisters... Click To Tweet

With sweet corn season fast approaching, now’s the time to work fresh corn into your daily meal planning.

[Related: Frittata Muffins]

Packed with antioxidants

Despite its name, sweet corn only carries about 6 grams of sugar per medium ear, making it considerably lower in sugar than a comparable amount of banana or beet. Sweet fresh corn also provides about 3 grams of insoluble fiber per cup and is also rich in resistant starch, helping you feel full longer. Because of its fiber volume that helps it digest slowly, corn is a low- to medium-glycemic index food, so it won’t cause blood sugar to spike.

Despite its name, sweet corn only carries about 6 grams of sugar per medium ear, making it considerably lower in sugar than a comparable amount of banana or beet. Click To Tweet

Corn is a good source of vitamin C and some B vitamins. One cup of fresh corn contains about 5 grams protein, more than a cup of broccoli, with more magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium than in broccoli as well. Popcorn delivers these same minerals, plus zinc and copper.

Sweet corn is also packed with antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, which can improve vision. And although cooking corn does decrease its vitamin C content, researchers at Cornell University found that the heating process actually increases its antioxidant activity. When cooked over low heat for 10 minutes or more, corn releases increasingly larger amounts of a cancer-fighting phytochemical compound known as ferulic acid.

[Related: Corn, a Whole Grain Staple in Nicoya, Costa Rica]

Try some of our easy recipes like Heirloom Bean Salad with Smoky Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette, ‘Ulu Curry Corn Chowder, or Nicoyan Corn Tortillas that spotlight the versatility of fresh corn, or get started with these quick and simple dish ideas:

  • Make elotes, or Mexican street corn. Grill sweet corn ears, then mix in ancho chile powder, lime juice, and chopped cilantro. Sprinkle with some nutritional yeast and enjoy.
  • Work fresh corn into your favorite salsas and guacamole.
  • Cut corn kernels off the ear and sprinkle onto flatbread or over nachos to add fun texture and delightful sweetness.
  • Add corn to potato salads for more color and flavor.
  • Add fresh corn to corn muffins or cornbread.

Featured photo by David McLain

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