Corn plays two important roles: It is both a grain and a vegetable. Although some heirloom species can serve as a vegetable when harvested young (at the “milk” stage) and also serve as a grain when allowed to ripen further and dried, most of the corn we eat today has been bred for one use or the other. The sweet corn we eat as a vegetable, either in kernels or on the cob, has a relatively high sugar content, which helps it retain its sweet taste even if it has to travel far from the field. This corn is a good source of B vitamins, including thiamine, pantothenic acid, and folates; vitamins A, C, and E; and the minerals magnesium and phosphorus. It is also a relatively good source of some amino acids, though it is not a complete protein.
The word “corn” originally meant any type of grain, and in England and many other parts of the world, it still does. In those settings, the word “maize” is used for what we in the United States call “corn.” When English visitors first arrived in North America, they called the grain the Native Americans grew “Indian corn.” In the United States, this term eventually shortened to “corn,” the term in general use today. Increasingly, as people rediscover the more colorful heirloom varieties, the term “Indian corn” has been used to apply to them.
Since many of the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemicals in foods are found in their pigments (anthocyanins in blue and purple foods, lycopenes in red ones), corn’s various colors provide intriguing nutritional possibilities. The common yellow corns are rich in carotenes, but red, pink, black, white, and blue corn varieties may be found to have different “secret weapons” to benefit health.
Some types of corn even have different colored kernels on the same ears. Yellow sweet corn is an excellent source of lutein, a nutrient that is also found in the retina and that may play a role in reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Nutritional Facts :
One-half cup of cooked corn provides 89 calories, 20.6 g carbohydrate, 2.7 g protein, 1 g fat, 2.3 g dietary fiber, 178 IU vitamin A, 5 mg vitamin C, 1.3 mg niacin, 38 mcg folic acid, 204 mg potassium, 14 mg sodium, 84 mg phosphorus, 2 mg calcium, and 26 mg magnesium.
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