The Health Benefits of Corn

June 10, 2008


Corn, or maize, originates from Mesoamerica and was an important aspect of their civilization.

The Native Americans utilized the health benefits of corn by serving it with the ash of limestone. They had observed that people who ingesting corn in this manner were healthier. The limestone ash helps liberate the niacin in corn that is otherwise not absorbed efficiently by the body.

There is some evidence suggesting that the cultivation of corn began 9,000 years ago in central Mexico.

Today, the United States is the largest producer of corn, with China, Brazil, and Mexico other large producers.

Health Benefits of Corn

  • Nutrients
    Corn is very good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine). It’s a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamins C and E, folic acid, dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, and the minerals magnesium and phosphorus.

    A comprehensive breakdown of protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin and mineral content presented in an easy to read pie chart can be found in our Nutrition Database where this food can also be added to a meal planner.

  • Glycemic Index (GI)
    In a study to determine an estimation of the GI of various foods, it was concluded that sweet corn has a  medium GI of 60.
  • Eye Health
    The Age-Related Eye Disease Study suggests antioxidants may delay the advance of age-related macular degeneration.
    Yellow corn is rich in the carotenoid lutein, a phytochemical with antioxidant properties that can lower the risk of age related vision loss. Age related vision loss is caused by gradual oxidative damage of the retina, and lutein may serve as an antioxidant as well as a filter to protect the retina from the oxidative effect of blue light.
    Diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are also associated with a decreased prevalence of nuclear cataract.
    While lutein and zeaxanthin content in yellow corn is not nearly as high as that in green leafy vegetables such as spinach (approximately 1/10th), yellow corn and corn products are one of the most popular foods in the Americas and other parts of the world. The less processed the product is, the more lutein rich it will be.
  • Alzheimer’s
    A study has shown that moderately severe Alzheimer’s patients had much lower plasma levels of lutein and beta-carotene, compared to mild Alzheimer’s patients. These findings suggest increasing intake of lutein and beta-carotene rich foods to slow the rate of cognitive decline.
  • Cancer
    Corn has a high beta – cryptoxanthin content, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties. An observational study in Singapore has shown that high levels of dietary beta-cryptoxanthin were associated with reduced risk of lung cancer.
1. Genetically modified corn has been engineered with an insecticidal protein and is best avoided, choose organic corn and corn products.
2. Corn contains oxalate, and individuals with a history of oxalate containing kidney stones should limit their consumption of corn products.
3. High fructose corn syrup which is found in sodas and other processed beverages and foods has been linked to diabetes and should be avoided.

1. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, Joseph Pizzorno, and Lara Pizzorno.
2. Benders’ Dictionary of Nutrition and Food Technology.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
4. Renzi LM, Johnson EJ. Lutein and age-related ocular disorders in the older adult: a review. J Nutr Elder. 2007;26(3-4):139-57. PMID: 18285296
5. Leung IY. Macular pigment: new clinical methods of detection and the role of carotenoids in age-related macular degeneration. Optometry. 2008 May;79(5):266-72. PMID: 18436167
6. Wang W, Shinto L, Connor WE, Quinn JF. Nutritional biomarkers in Alzheimer’s disease: the association between carotenoids, n-3 fatty acids, and dementia severity. J Alzheimers Dis. 2008 Feb;13(1):31-8. PMID: 18334754
7. Moeller SM, Voland R, Tinker L, Blodi BA, Klein ML, Gehrs KM, Johnson EJ, Snodderly DM, Wallace RB, Chappell RJ, Parekh N, Ritenbaugh C, Mares JA; CAREDS Study Group; Women’s Helath Initiative. Associations between age-related nuclear cataract and lutein and zeaxanthin in the diet and serum in the Carotenoids in the Age-Related Eye Disease Study, an Ancillary Study of the Women’s Health Initiative. Arch Ophthalmol. 2008 Mar;126(3):354-64. PMID: 18332316
8. Yuan JM, Stram DO, Arakawa K, Lee HP, Yu MC. Dietary cryptoxanthin and reduced risk of lung cancer: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Sep;12(9):890-8. PMID: 14504200

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  1. Pingback: The Nutritional and Health Benefits of Corn | Ang Resulta Blog

  2. ady

    December 19, 2011 at 6:09 am

    nice.. permission copy n paste

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