Corn: Health benefits, nutrients & uses

Medically Reviewed by Checkmark Medically Reviewed By: Sheela Krishnaswamy

There used to be times when people consumed corn more than wheat, rice, or other grains in many parts of India. However, in the last century or so, wheat and rice have almost replaced the regular consumption of corn, millet, and other coarse grains. Studies show that switching to coarse grains may be life-transforming. Corn is one such coarse grain which has a lot of health benefits.

Since conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disorders are endemic in India, many Indian and western researchers believe that it has much to do with higher wheat and rice consumption and lower consumption of coarse grains (corn, millet, and other grains are called coarse grains).

Wheat and rice are high in carbs, easy to cook, and highly addictive. Additionally, most cuisines have widely adopted the use of wheat flour and rice. However, researchers in India and even the west think that it is time to change our food habits. To stop the onslaught of diabetes, dementia, and heart diseases, there is a need to change the way we eat. There is also a need to switch to healthy sources of fats and consume a greater variety of grains.

Eating corn, particularly instead of wheat, is a better option. One can eat corn as boiled, grilled, ground into flour to make flatbread, and other ways. It is time to revive long-lost recipes and start enjoying a corn-based diet.

Wheat causes a fast rise in blood sugar levels and is also responsible for low-grade inflammation, gluten intolerance, and other gastrointestinal disorders.

Some studies suggest that coarse grains can reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by almost 30%, and it can also help cut down the risk of developing diabetes by almost one-third. In addition, eating coarse grains like corn may help reduce body weight, improve blood pressure, and is also suitable for digestive health.

Excellent source of nutrition

There are a lot of health benefits of corn as it is packed with nutrients. This is especially important considering that the Indian diet is predominantly vegetarian. Even those Indians who are not vegetarians get most of their energy from plant-based foods. Among the plant-based foods, Indians get a maximum number of calories with a few grains like wheat and rice. It would be even correct to say that the Indian diet is wheat and rice dominated. Thus, consuming different types of cereals could be the single most effective way of boosting health.

Studies show that just a cup of corn (about 166 g) contains 600 calories from healthy carbs and fats. It is also rich in high-quality proteins. In addition, corn is a good source of dietary fibre. It is rich in vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin B6. Among minerals, corn is a good source of magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium.

Perfect for those living with celiac disease

In the western nations, gluten intolerance is about 1%, and India is also moving towards a higher number of celiac disease cases. Moreover, the cases of celiac disease (an immune disorder triggered by the consumption of gluten) have been fast rising since the middle of the last century, and all that is due to increasing wheat consumption. 

Corn is naturally gluten-free. Moreover, corn flour can readily replace wheat flour in most recipes. It means minimal compromise in dietary habits. Corn could be one of the healthiest replacements for wheat flour. 

Corn is also less likely to cause gut inflammation. Studies show that corn contains flavonoids that may have direct anti-inflammatory action. It means that corn can also help reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Since inflammatory bowel diseases are so common in India, eating more corn could be one of the solutions.

There are other ways in which corn may have a beneficial impact on gut health. For example, it is rich in soluble fibre and can help improve gut microbiota. It means a lower risk of functional gastrointestinal disorders, fewer episodes of bloating, abdominal pain, and other issues.

Good for eye health

It is well known that carotenoids like vitamin A are good for eye health. However, now new studies show that other carotenoids are even better than vitamin A. It is because high consumption of vitamin A may cause some ill-health effects.

Corn is rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. Both are well-studied carotenoids and antioxidants with a range of health benefits. However, they are especially good for eye health. Studies show that lutein can help reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which is a leading cause of preventable blindness in older adults. It may also have a role in reducing the risk of cataracts.

Good for prostate health

Corn is a good source of quercetin, an antioxidant with a range of health benefits. It is especially good for preventing prostate health issues. It can also lower inflammation in those living with benign prostatitis.

Boost brain health and prevent dementia

According to some studies, quercetin plays a role in preventing dementia. Studies show that quercetin has some direct neuroprotective action. It may also improve blood flow to the brain and help reduce oxidative stress. Quercetin has a role in fighting mental stress-related disorders. Additionally, it may boost the production of growth factors and improve brain plasticity. Quercetin may also have a role in reducing age-related cognitive decline.

Final thoughts

If we want to reduce the incidence of various metabolic disorders like heart disease, gut disorders, and dementia, it is vital to pay close attention to dietary measures. For example, corn grows in abundance in India, and yet it remains one of the neglected grains. Some studies suggest that low consumption of coarse grains and high consumption of wheat and rice can be the reason for the increase in risk of diabetes, heart diseases, various gut disorders, and more. Thus, a simple measure of increasing the dietary intake of corn can help prevent many disorders.

Corn is not just rich in nutrients. It is also a good source of certain phytocompounds like quercetin and lutein. These antioxidants are known to help fight many disorders. In addition, these antioxidants also have anti-aging effects.

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Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

Disclaimer: Medical Science is an ever evolving field. We strive to keep this page updated. In case you notice any discrepancy in the content, please inform us at [email protected]. You can futher read our Correction Policy here. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment because of something you have read on or accessed through this website or it's social media channels. Read our Full Disclaimer Here for further information.

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