Is Corn Good for You? 5 Myths About Sweet Corn

Is Corn Good for You? 5 Myths About Sweet Corn

Is Corn Good for You? 5 Myths About Sweet Corn

Few things say “summer” like a freshly picked ear of sweet corn, grilled to perfection and served up with a light smear of butter and a sprinkle of salt. Yet somehow over the years, people began to question if corn is healthy. Rumors have sprung up about everything from how corn is grown to its nutrient content.

Here are five common corn myths, busted (spoiler alert: Corn is healthy when eaten in moderation!). Plus, we cover some of the health benefits of corn as well. Get ready to fire up the grill.

Myth No. 1: Sweet Corn Is High in Fat

Pictured Recipe: Garlic Butter Campfire Corn

Fact: Some people think that corn is full of fat, but it’s technically considered a low-fat food, coming in at around 1 gram of fat per ear, according to the USDA. And while the fat is a mix of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, the polyunsaturated fat makes up almost half of corn’s total fat amount.

Both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats have been shown to have heart-health benefits—so as long as you don’t drown your corn in butter, your ticker will be perfectly happy to have you noshing on an ear of sweet corn. You may also get similar heart-health benefits with corn oil, according to a 2018 trial in The Journal of Nutrition.

Myth No. 2: Eating Corn Will Make You Gain Weight

Pictured Recipe: Fresh Sweet Corn Salad

Fact: Sure, you can load up that juicy corn on the cob with butter and other high-calorie toppings. But one plain ear of corn only has about 122 calories, according to the USDA—similar to an apple.

And with nearly 3 g of fiber in one ear of corn, it can help you feel full longer, so you’re less likely to overeat. Then there’s corn’s resistant starch, a slow-to-digest type of carb that’s been shown to help with weight control.

Altogether, corn’s low-calorie and high-fiber content can help with weight loss when eaten in moderation, as long as you keep any high-fat toppings to a minimum.

Myth No. 3: Sweet Corn Is High in Sugar

Jerrelle Guy

Pictured Recipe: Creole Skillet Cornbread

Fact: Yes, corn is sweet for a vegetable—but there are only 5 g of natural sugar in a medium-sized ear of corn, per the USDA. An ear of sweet corn has less than a third of the sugar in a banana and only about one-fifth the sugar of a medium apple. Cup for cup, even beets have more grams of sugar than corn.

In fact, corn is considered a low-glycemic food, partly thanks to its fiber content. Because it digests slowly, it won’t cause an unhealthy spike in your blood sugar.

The high-sugar corn myth may be partly due to some long-standing confusion over products made from different varieties of corn. High-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, glucose and other sweeteners are derived from field corn, the virtually inedible commodity crop used to make everything from livestock feed to ethanol. Those highly processed sweeteners are nothing like the natural sugars found in sweet corn, the vegetable you eat.

Myth No. 4: Corn Has No Health Benefits

Pictured Recipe: Chipotle Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Fact: Sweet corn has numerous health benefits. For starters, according to the USDA, sweet corn is loaded with lutein and zeaxanthin—two phytochemicals that promote healthy vision, according to a 2018 review in Nutrients.

Besides helping with weight loss, the insoluble fiber in corn feeds good bacteria in your gut, which aid in digestion and help keep you regular. Throw in a healthy amount of B vitamins, plus iron, protein and potassium, and you’ve got one sweet package.

Myth No. 5: The Cooking Process Robs Corn of Its Nutrients

Pictured Recipe: Prosciutto Pizza with Corn & Arugula

Fact: Cooking sweet corn can boost its nutritional benefits, according to a 2018 review in Food Science and Human Wellness. This review also states that evidence shows that regularly eating corn, which is a whole grain, reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and Type 2 diabetes. It can also improve digestive health and may help prevent weight gain, as well as some cancers.

The Bottom Line

Corn is a healthy vegetable with several potential health benefits, including eye and heart health. Adopting it as part of a healthy, varied diet will add nutrition and pleasure to your plate. If you’ve been avoiding it, it’s time to make up with corn. Eat it directly off the cob or try it in Poblano Corn Casserole, Easy Corn Pudding or Slow-Cooker Corn Casserole.

Original reporting by Matthew Thompson