Monday, December 22, 2008
Corn also called sweetcorn, sugar corn, pole corn, is a variety of maize with a high sugar content is considered a vegetable.
An ear of fresh corn is a staple at cookouts during summer holidays, and frozen or canned corn is available year-round as a side dish or an addition to soups, salads, salsas, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. Because of its slightly sweet flavor and crisp, juicy texture, corn is a favorite of adults and children alike. But is there a nutritional benefit to eating corn?
Corn is high in fiber and contains important B vitamins, which have been shown to aid in the prevention of heart attacks and colon cancer and to help improve memory. Corn also contains zeaxanthin and lutein — phytonutrients that help promote the health of the heart and the eyes.
Health Benefits of Corn
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.
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.
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.
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.