Is Corn Good for You? 5 Myths About Sweet Corn, Busted
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 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. Plus, we cover some of the health benefits of corn as well. Get ready to fire up the grill.
Myth #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 #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 3.5 grams of fiber in one ear of corn, it can help you feel full longer, so you're less likely to overeat.
Then there's its resistant starch, a slow-to-digest type of carb that's been shown to help with weight control.
Myth #3: Sweet Corn Is High in Sugar
Pictured Recipe: Creole Skillet Cornbread
Fact: Yes, corn is sweet for a vegetable—but there are only 5 grams 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. Even beets have more grams of sugar per serving than corn.
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 #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 aids in digestion and helps keep you regular. Throw in a healthy amount of B vitamins, plus iron, protein and potassium, and you've got one sweet package.
Myth #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 whole-grain corn 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.
Corn has several potential health benefits, including eye and heart health. Including it as part of a healthy, varied diet will add nutrition and pleasure to your plate, so if you've been avoiding it, maybe 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.
Related: The Fastest Way to Cook Corn
Original reporting by Matthew Thompson