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Is Corn a Healthy Food?

By Sylvie Tremblay, MSc

A native to the Americas, corn made up a dietary staple in many Native American cultures and today represents one of the most important crops worldwide, explains Purdue University. Fresh corn's sweet taste makes it a treat in the warmer months, while frozen corn has the potential to add nutritional value to your diet year-round. Corn makes a smart addition to your diet, because it increases your intake of several health-boosting nutrients.

Basic Nutrition Information

A 1-cup serving of cooked corn, cut from the cob, contains 143 calories -- approximately 7 percent of your daily allowance, based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Its 32 grams of total carbohydrates account for most of corn's calorie content, though its 5 grams of protein and 2.2 grams of fat contribute small amounts as well. Corn serves as a good source of fiber. Each 1-cup serving of corn provides 3.6 grams, which makes up 9 percent of the daily fiber intake recommended for men and 14 percent for women. Fiber contributes to corn's nutritional value because it lowers your cholesterol, helps your body better regulate your blood sugar levels and fights constipation.

Minerals for Good Health

Corn also contributes to a healthy diet by boosting your mineral intake. Each serving contains 39 milligrams of magnesium -- 9 and 12 percent of the daily recommended magnesium intakes established for men and women, respectively -- as well as 115 milligrams of phosphorus, or 16 percent of your recommended daily intake. Your body uses both magnesium and phosphorus to make new bone tissue and maintain skeletal strength. Magnesium also aids your metabolism, while phosphorus helps your body transport oxygen.

Beneficial Vitamins

Reach for corn as a source of beneficial vitamins, particularly vitamins C and B-5, also called ascorbic acid and pantothenic acid, respectively. Both vitamins help activate enzymes in your cells, including enzymes your brain cells need to make chemicals involved in nerve communication. Vitamin B-5 also helps you synthesize hormones, while vitamin C potentially aids in cholesterol metabolism. A cup of cooked corn provides 8.2 milligrams of vitamin C and 1.2 milligrams of vitamin B-5. This contributes 24 percent toward your daily B-5 requirements and also makes up 11 percent of the daily vitamin C intake recommended for women and 9 percent for men.

Phytonutrients for Healthy Vision

Corn owes its sunny yellow hue to its carotenoid content, and two carotenoids -- called lutein and zeaxanthin -- benefit your eyesight. Your retinas, a delicate tissue in your eyes that detect color and light, contain large amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin and rely on these nutrients to protect them from light damage. Getting enough lutein and zeaxanthin in your diet fight cataracts, as well as age-related macular degeneration, and they also help improve vision in those already suffering from AMD. Consuming 12 milligrams of lutein and zeaxanthin each day benefits your eyes, advises the American Optometric Association. A cup of cooked corn contains 1.4 milligrams, or 12 percent of your intake goal.

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