Foodpairing with Corn
Corn is delicious. While it’s often associated with summer, corn roasts, and cookouts, it’s great all year round and in many different dishes and food pairings. Also called maize, corn is a staple food in many parts of the world. In fact, a greater weight of maize is produced each year than any other grain[i].
There’s a good reason why corn is such a popular food. It’s nutritious and there are many great ways to eat it. People have known this for centuries, and that’s why it’s been such an important part of human diets all around the world for so long.
The History of Corn
Corn is native to Mexico and Peru, with the beginnings of its cultivation happening nearly 9,000 years ago[ii]. Corn cultivation gradually began to spread north, with growth happening in what is now New Mexico and Arizona around 4,100 years ago[iii].
There are many different varieties of corn. It is believed that modern corn was derived from the Balsas teosinte, a wild grass[iv].
Interestingly enough, corn can be considered either a grain or a vegetable, depending on when it is harvested. It’s a grain when it’s harvested fully mature and a vegetable when it is soft and has kernels full of liquid[v].
Corn Health Benefits
Corn is rich in fiber as well as many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B1 (Thiamine), vitamin B9 (Folate), magnesium, and potassium[vi]. Corn also contains niacin, or vitamin B3, which helps metabolize energy[vii].
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects cells from damage and can also help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other issues[viii]. Corn is rich in vitamin C. It’s also a good source of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are beneficial for eye healthvii. Cooking corn has been found to free some of its beneficial nutrients and boost its ability to fight heart disease and cancer[ix]. Cooked or steamed corn is also more easily absorbed by the body.
Because corn has high levels of vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, it can help the brain function normally and reduce the risk of memory loss in seniors[x].
Corn is also suitable for people with spleen and stomach deficiency, qi and blood deficiency, and malnutrition[xi]. The embryo or germ of the corn kernel contains high levels of enzymes and nutrients[xii], so it should be eaten to get the most out of corn.
Sweet corn is typically placed in the "moderate" glycemic index category, so it can generally be eaten by those with diabetes, if the serving size is kept in mind[xiii].
Corn oil is rich in vitamin E, vitamin A, lecithin, and magnesium. It has been shown to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol and reduce arterial thrombosis .
What Foods Pair with Corn?
There are a lot of great ways to eat corn, and some pairings can help boost its nutritional value. Here are a few great food synergy pairings for corn:
Corn + garlic: Eating corn along with garlic (such as in a garlic and corn porridge, for example) can be very nourishing and beneficial for your heart and stomach.
Corn + cauliflower: Corn and cauliflower together form a strong pairing. Cauliflower contains high levels of vitamin C and vitamin E[xiv], which are great for moisturizing the skin and fighting the signs of aging.
Corn + onions: The combination can quench thirst, lower blood sugar, and lower blood lipids
Corn + eggs: Eating corn along with eggs can boost heart-protective HDL (good) cholesterol[xv].
Corn + pine nuts: Eating corn along with pine nuts can help regulate the spleen and stomach[xvi].
However, some pairings should be avoided. For instance, eating corn and field snails and conch together can cause physical discomfort, while eating sweet potatoes with corn may cause abdominal distension.
Getting the most of your foods and supercharging your diet is what Foodpairing with Purpose is all about!
What to Watch Out For When Eating Corn
Corn is delicious, but there are a few instances where people should not eat corn or watch the amount they consume. For instance, corn can cause an upset stomach, diarrhea, gas, bloating or other digestive issues in some people (especially those with sensitive stomachs), so take note of the amount you eat[xvii].
Also, a corn intolerance is relatively common, so if you feel any digestive issues, skin irritations, or other problems after eating corn, you may wish to avoid it[xviii].
It’s also important to store corn properly, as it can be spoiled by moisture. Fresh corn should be stored in the refrigerator and eaten within about two days of purchase[xix]. Keep it husked if you’re storing it in the fridge, but remove the package, husk, and silk if you’re freezing it. Then wrap it in plastic wrap or place it in a freezer bag.
Aflatoxins (a family of toxins produced by certain fungi) are sometimes found on corn. Exposure to these toxins has been associated with an increased risk of liver cancer[xx]. For this reason, discard any corn that appears moldy or discolored.
[i] International Grains Council. Retrieved 2022, August 24, Grain Market Report http://www.igc.int/downloads/gmrsummary/gmrsumme.pdf [ii] Panoramas. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Collecting Corn: Why do Latin American Countries have more varieties of corn than the United States? https://www.panoramas.pitt.edu/other/collecting-corn-why-do-latin-american-countries-have-more-varieties-corn-united-states [iii] Archaeology Southwest. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Tracking Maize in the Southwest over 4,100 Years. https://www.archaeologysouthwest.org/2015/01/11/tracking-maize-in-the-southwest-over-4100-years/ [iv] Britannica. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Corn. https://www.britannica.com/plant/corn-plant [v] USDA. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Is corn a grain or a vegetable? https://ask.usda.gov/s/article/Is-corn-a-grain-or-a-vegetable [vi] Healthline. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Is Corn Good for You? Nutrition Facts and More . https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-corn-good-for-you#nutrition [vii] Healthfully. Retrieved 2022, August 24. What Vitamins Are in Corn? https://healthfully.com/511966-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-canned-corn.html [viii] WebMD. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Corn. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/corn-health-benefits [ix] Cornell Chronicle. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Cooking sweet corn boosts its ability to fight cancer and heart disease by freeing healthful compounds, Cornell scientists find https://news.cornell.edu/stories/2002/08/cooking-sweet-corn-boosts-disease-fighting-nutrients [x] Home Care Assistance. Retrieved 2022, August 24, Why Is Corn Healthy for Seniors? https://www.homecareassistancewaterloo.ca/health-benefits-of-corn-for-elderly/ [xi] Shiwuxiangke.com. Retrieved August, 21st, Corn can't be eaten with anything. What are the foods that can't be eaten with corn? http://www.shiwuxiangke.com/guwulei1143.html [xii] Health Jade. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Nutritional value of corn https://healthjade.net/nutritional-value-corn/ [xiii] Livestrong. Retrieved 2022, August 24. If You Have Diabetes, Is It Bad to Eat Corn? https://www.livestrong.com/article/439529-is-corn-a-bad-food-to-eat-with-diabetes/ [xiv] WebMD. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Health Benefits of Cauliflower. https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/health-benefits-cauliflower [xv] Healthline. Retrieved 2022, August 24. 11 High Cholesterol Foods — Which to Eat, Which to Avoid https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/high-cholesterol-foods [xvi] Healthy World Cuisine. Retrieved 2022, August 23. Feed Your Spleen: Nourish your Body https://www.hwcmagazine.com/recipe/feed-your-spleen/ [xvii] Livestrong. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Trouble Digesting Corn? Here's What Your Body's Trying to Tell You. https://www.livestrong.com/article/528999-sweet-corn-and-digestion/ [xviii] Health Hub. Retrieved 2022, August 24. What Is Corn Intolerance? Causes, Symptoms and Treatments https://www.thehealthhub.com/what-is-corn-intolerance/ [xix] Southern Living. Retrieved 2022, August 24. How to Store Corn on the Cob https://www.southernliving.com/food/veggies/corn/how-to-store-corn-on-the-cob [xx] National Cancer Institute. Retrieved 2022, August 24. Aflatoxins. https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/aflatoxins