My lunch today consists of an ear of bi-colored sweet corn that I had just bought from the supermarket. The bi-colored sweet corns are the premium selection of sweet corns produced from a local farm. The sweet corns were so fresh and sweet that I ate half an ear raw and the other half briefly steamed.
My kids and I love sweet corns. Lately, I have been doing quite a bit of research from the internet on sweet corns. I am sure you’ve heard that sweet corns are bad for you. But are sweet corns really that bad or just a myth? Many people have convinced themselves that sweet corn is bad. That’s a shame. It’s easy to take a few real nuggets of fact and use them to come to a distorted conclusion about this super-delicious and sweet veggie.
Here are some of the biggest myths about corn which I had read from Barry Estabrook’s feature in July / August 2012 issue of EatingWell. Barry is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured in publications including the “New York Times Magazine”, “Reader’s Digest” and the “Washington Post”.
Myth #1: Most sweet corn is genetically modified.
Truth: A lot of people mix up “sweet corn,” the vegetable you buy to eat, and “field corn”—the virtually inedible commodity crop used to make everything from livestock feed to ethanol to high-fructose corn syrup. While most field corn is genetically modified, most sweet corn is not. Last year only 3 to 4% of the sweet corn grown in the U.S. was GMO. Food-giant Monsanto hopes to change all that this summer, however. For the first time, farmers are planting Monsanto’s newly approved, genetically modified Performance sweet-corn seeds. A representative from the company wouldn’t divulge how much will be planted this year. One way to try to tell whether the sweet corn you’re holding is GMO is to ask the farmers you buy from if they plant GMO corn. (Syngenta’s Attribute and Monsanto’s Performance are the two varieties sold in North America.) Another way: choose USDA organic corn. GMO crops are forbidden under organic standards.
Myth #2: Corn is fattening and sugary.
Truth: An ear of corn has about the same number of calories as an apple and less than one-fourth the sugar. In other words, it can be one of the healthier foods at the cookout! Just remember: while sweet corn is healthy, some of the toppings people like to put on it aren’t. So don’t assume an ear of corn slathered in butter and doused in salt is still a healthy option.
Myth #3: Cooking corn makes it less nutritious.
Truth: Antioxidant activity, which helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease, is actually increased when corn is cooked.
Myth #4: Corn has no healthy benefits.
Truth: Sweet corn is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision. A midsize ear also offers a helpful 3-gram dose of dietary fiber.
Myth #5: The best way to choose corn is by the color of the kernels.
Truth: Although corn lovers often profess to have favorite varieties, farmer Kevin Smith, interviewed by Estabrook for the story, says variety is far less important than freshness. “Any corn can be ruined if it’s old,” he says. Nor is color a key to quality. Yellow, white, bi-color—it doesn’t really matter. Preferences vary from region to region. Avoid corn with dry, pale husks and silks that are desiccated where they enter the cob. If pricked, kernels should squirt whitish juice. As for choosing the best-tasting corn, abide by Smith’s “one-day rule.” Don’t buy a cob that’s more than 24 hours out of the fiel
Nutritional Value of Sweet Corns:
Sweet corn is very rich in vitamin B1, vitamin B5, vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, folate and dietary fiber. Because of the vitamins contained in sweet corn, many health benefits can be associated with the consumption of this delicious vegetable.
Sweet Benefits of Sweet Corns:
1 Cancer Prevention
Sweet corn contains a chemical known as beta cryptoxanthin. Beta cryptoxanthin is chemically similar to the well known chemical beta carotene. The human body converts beta cryptoxanthin to vitamin A when consumed in foods. According to a study performed by Jian-Min Yuan published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, there is an inverse relationship between consumption of beta cryptoxanthin and lung cancer development. This means the greater amount of beta cryptoxanthin that is consumed, the lower the prevalence of lung cancer development.
2 Memory Enhancement
Sweet corn contains high levels of thiamine, or vitamin B1. According to WHFoods.org, thiamine is an essential nutrient required for brain cell and cognitive function. Consumption of thiamine is necessary for the body to produce acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that is essential for the maintenance of memory capabilities. One of the primary factors associated with Alzheimer’s disease is low levels of acetylcholine.
3 Vision Protection
According to AusFoodNews.com.au, sweet corn contains the antioxidant zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is the yellow pigment that naturally occurs in sweet corn. Consumption of zeaxanthin can have a protective effect against age-related eye diseases such as macular degeneration. In addition, sweet corn also contains folate and beta carotene, which also may protect against macular degeneration.
Avoid corn with dry, pale husks and silks that are desiccated where they enter the cob. If pricked, kernels should squirt whitish juice.