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Corn

This article is part of a larger article titled "100+ Healthiest Foods On Planet Earth."  Read it here.

Corn Nutritional Information (per 100g)

Water: 10.4 g
Calories: 365 kcal
Protein: 9.4 g
Carbohydrate: 74.3 g
Dietary fiber: 7.3 g
Sugars: 0.6 g
Fat: 4.7 g
Saturated fat: 0.7 g
Monounsaturated fat: 1.3 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 2.2 g
Vitamin B1: 0.4 mg
Vitamin B2: 0.2 mg
Vitamin B3: 3.6 mg
Vitamin B6: 0.6 mg
Vitamin B9: 19 μg
Vitamin A: 11 μg
Vitamin E: 0.5 mg
Vitamin K: 0.3 μg
Calcium: 7 mg
Iron: 2.7 mg
Magnesium: 127 mg
Phosphorus: 210 mg
Potassium: 287 mg
Sodium: 35 mg
Zinc: 2.2 mg

Corn is found in a lot of products within the western diet, and it is often used as a healthy alternative, e.g. corn crisps rather than potato crisps. It seems that corn is a very healthy dietary choice, and some of the benefits are below:

Rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are needed in order to reduce the number of free radicals in the body and are found in many fruits and vegetables, but tend to be lost during the cooking process. Corn is different, however, and research by Vinson et al (2012) has found that cooking it into popcorn can actually increase the amount of antioxidants from 114mg to 300mg in the same sized serving. Raw corn also contains many antioxidants which may help with a variety of health problems (as noted in Harakotr et al, 2014).

Reduces the risk of colon cancer. Corn is one of the most fibrous foods, and fibre is extremely important for maintaining digestive health. Corn fibre has been shown to significantly reduce orofeacal transit time (i.e. how long it takes for food to pass through the intestine) when compared to potato fibre (Cherbut et al, 1997), increased stool output and increase the amount of short chain fatty acids found in the gut. These are all effects which can potentially reduce the risk of developing colon cancer.

May help to prevent HIV. HIV affects millions of people all over the world, and has killed over 39 million since the epidemic began (CDC, 2013). A new treatment called microbicides may help to prevent the disease, however, and corn may play an unexpected role. Microbicides are a topical treatment which can be applied to the genitalia before intercourse and are created from antibodies taken from a variety of sources, one of the most promising being corn. Corn contains antibodies such as 2G12 and 2F5, and research by Sabalza et al (2012) has shown that 2F5 antibodies in corn can be expressed as effectively as they can be from mammalian cells, in order to treat HIV.

Can prevent anaemia. Anaemia is a condition caused by an iron deficiency in the blood, and can lead to dizziness, headaches, tiredness and feeling very cold. Corn contains a fair amount of iron. A study by Faber et al (2005) showed that a fortified corn-based porridge led to a significant decrease in infants with anaemia, from 45% to 17%.

Longevity benefits. Recently science has begun to investigate ways to increase longevity, and corn oil may be one way to do so. A study by Hongwei et al (2014) investigated the health and longevity of mice fed either a normal diet, or one boosted with corn oil, a potential substitute for saturated fat. They found that the mice who consumed the corn oil had significantly reduced pro-inflammatory markers which indicate aging.

There was a lower mortality rate of mice in the corn oil condition (23.3% mice died at the age of 25 months in the corn group compared to 53.8% in the normal group). Unfortunately, the mice in the corn group were significantly heavier than those in the normal group despite consuming the same amount of calories, suggesting that corn oil may also lead to fat retention.