From movie theater popcorn to fried corn chips, not to mention the ubiquitous corn syrup, some corn products have given this crop a reputation for being “unhealthy.” But when it comes to corn itself, the popular vegetable offers many beneficial nutrients, says Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN, registered dietitian and owner of Nomadista Nutrition.
To get the most health benefits from corn, Davis recommends eating it in its least processed form. Fresh corn on the cob (roasted, broiled, or boiled) or frozen corn (frozen to peak freshness and steamed until al dente) are both fantastic ways to enjoy its sweet kernels in all their splendour. Minimally processed corn tortillas can also be a great option, she says, adding that it’s always a good idea to look at the quality of the corn used and the sodium content.
There are also concerns that corn is genetically modified. Davis explains that most GMO corn in the United States is used for animal feed and in processed food products like breakfast cereals, corn syrup and corn oil. You can find non-GMO corn by visiting local farmers’ markets and carefully reading the nutrition labels on the produce you buy.
Nothing says summer like a plate of sweet and buttery corn on the cob, and nothing beats a generous sprinkling of tangy corn salsa on your burrito bowl. Whether your personal style of eating corn is more of a typewriter or a rolling pin, here are all the healthy nutrients you get in every bite.
Nutritional and Health Benefits of Corn
Corn contains soluble fiber for satisfaction and a healthy gut.
A medium-sized ear of corn contains about two grams of fiber. Corn contains soluble fiber (vs. insoluble fiber), helps you feel full and satisfied, and supports healthy gut bacteria. While corn is a starchy vegetable, which means it’s naturally higher in carbs than some other vegetables, the soluble fiber helps slow the absorption of carbs, preventing blood sugar spikes and preventing you from drowsing. get hungry again quickly, says Davis. (With a rating between 56 and 69, corn is considered moderate on the glycemic index scale.)
Corn is a surprising source of vegetable protein.
Add corn to salads, pastas, rice bowls, salsas, and more. is a sneaky way to boost the protein content of a dish, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. It’s not a ton, but at around three grams of protein per cob, corn offers more protein than most other vegetables. Like fiber, protein helps control hunger and cravings and performs many essential functions in the body, including muscle repair and growth.
Corn contains eye-protecting nutrients.
Everyone’s talking about carrots to keep your vision on point, but corn deserves a shout-out too. Lutein and zeaxanthin give common corn varieties their yellow hue and are the main pigments present in the yellow stain of the human retina. Consuming these two carotenoids may help protect the eyes from blue light damage, improve visual acuity, and even reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Corn provides potassium and magnesium.
A serving of corn contains about 6% of the daily potassium requirement and 9-12% of the daily magnesium requirement. These minerals (both classified as electrolytes) play a role in many different bodily processes. Potassium, to name a few, helps regulate hydration levels, send nerve signals, protect bones and lower blood pressure. Magnesium is also involved in nerve function and regulation, blood pressure management, and reducing the risk of stroke and ischemic heart disease.
Corn contains vitamins C and B.
Whether you think of corn as a vegetable or a whole grain, it contains vitamins and minerals in both areas. A cup of sweet yellow corn contains 17% of the daily value of vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports your immune system, collagen production and iron absorption.
It also offers about 24% of the daily value of thiamin and 19% of the daily value of folate, two B vitamins that help convert carbohydrates into energy. Folate is especially important to consume during pregnancy to ensure normal fetal development and prevent certain birth defects. Adults are recommended to consume 400 mcg of folate and 600 mcg daily during pregnancy. A cup of cooked corn offers about 51 mcg.
Delicious (and Easy) Corn Recipes
Corn and pepper scramble
Need to shake up your breakfast game? This unique and delicious scramble combines caramelized corn kernels and juicy roasted red peppers with fluffy scrambled eggs.
summer corn soup
This comforting corn soup is light enough for hot summer nights. It’s deeply flavorful and has a base of two leek and scallion alliums, aromatic thyme, and enough white wine to add balancing flavor to every bite.
Spicy street corn salad
This bright salad is inspired by classic Mexican street food, elote: grilled sweet corn rubbed with smoky spices and sweet, salty cheese. Pro tip: Since you’re eating raw corn, look for fresh corn whenever possible at a local stand or farmers’ market.
Corn in honey-butter cream
Sweet and savory combo lovers, raise your hands! Buttered onions and sweet corn fuse with honey and thyme for serious flavor depth, while a drizzle of heavy cream brings balanced decadence to this divine side dish.
Spicy pimento cheese meets juicy corn kernels in this quick (honestly, life-changing) donut recipe for a crispy, caramelized delight. Serve with lemon mayonnaise for dipping or serve on a bed of lettuce for a light meal.