Corn, fall, harvest – it’s that time of year. Corn can be a very controversially vegetable, but let me share some of its redeeming qualities.
Corn as we know it today would not exist if it weren’t for the humans that cultivated and developed it. It is a human invention, a plant that does not exist naturally in the wild. It can only survive if planted and protected by humans. Scientists believe people living in central Mexico developed corn at least 7000 years ago. It was started from a wild grass called teosinte. Teosinte looked very different from our corn today. The kernels were small and were not placed close together like kernels on the husked ear of modern corn. Also known as maize Indians throughout North and South America, eventually depended upon this crop for much of their food. From Mexico maize spread north into the Southwestern United States and south down the coast to Peru. About 1000 years ago, as Indian people migrated north to the eastern woodlands of present day North America, they brought corn with them. When Europeans like Columbus made contact with people living in North and South America, corn was a major part of the diet of most native people. When Columbus “discovered” America, he also discovered corn. But up to this time, people living in Europe did not know about corn.
The first Thanksgiving was held in 1621. While sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie were not on the menu, Indian corn certainly would have been.
DIGEST THIS! A FEW FACTS ABOUT THE FIBER IN SWEET CORN
- One medium-sized ear of corn provides over 10% of our daily requirement for dietary fiber.
- There are two types of dietary fiber—soluble and insoluble—and sweet corn contains both!
- Dietary fiber as part of an overall healthy diet helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and may lower your risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association. It is the insoluble fiber that binds to cholesterol preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
- Insoluble fiber is responsible for promoting regularity and helping prevent constipation by speeding up the passage of food and waste through the intestines and by absorbing water to keep stools soft. Insoluble fiber has been shown to reduce your risk for hemorrhoids.
- Fiber-containing foods like sweet corn also help provide a feeling of fullness and so may help curb appetite and assist with weight management.
- Dietary fiber is also associated with reduce risk of Type 2 diabetes; a fiber-rich diet helps patients manage their disease
- Fiber is fermented by bacteria in the colon. Promising studies are underway to determine the health-promoting benefits of the breakdown products of fiber fermentation, for example, the short chain fatty acids that may work to keep the intestines healthy.
EYES ON CORN FOR HEALTHY EYES
- Studies have shown that a high intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of a chronic eye disease called macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) is not some obscure medical condition—it is the leading cause of legal blindness among the elderly. According to the National Eye Institute, 6.5% of the population over 40 has symptoms of ARMD, for which there is no cure.
- Lutein and zeaxanthin may also play a role in slowing the development of cataracts. Since lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids detectable in the lens, researchers believe that these powerful antioxidants may protect the clear proteins in the lens from undergoing the oxidation that causes them to become cloudy.
STILL MORE HEALTH REASONS TO LOVE YOUR SWEET CORN
- Lutein’s health benefits extend beyond eye health. Emerging research suggests that lutein may help prevent hardening of the arteries that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
- Corn contains beta-cryptoxanthin, another cousin of vitamin A that is being studied for its possible role in slowing bone loss associated with aging, reducing the risk of inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis as well as various forms of cancer, especially lung cancer.
- Corn is a good source of the vitamin folate that supports cardiovascular health and significantly reduces the risk of neural tube birth defects.
- Corn contributes thiamin (vitamin B1) that helps the body’s cells convert carbohydrates into energy. It is also essential for the proper functioning of the heart, muscles, and nervous system.
As you can see corn can have a healthy place in your diet. What you want to avoid is genetically modified corn-GMO. This process usually involves lacing the seed with roundup (herbicides) and changing the genetic makeup. Changing Mother Nature is never a good idea. Why would we- our creator made it so I figure it must be right! Herbicides have proven to cause cancer and the long term ramifications are not know concerning GMO food. Corn is one of the highest genetically modified foods and there are no laws requiring the food industry to tell you this. Eat up but know your food source!
Happy Healthy Eating! Dana