Corn is the ‘daughter of life’ according to the American Indians, and for 10,000 years it was their staple grain. In Mexico it provided the daily bread ‘tortilla’ and in North America ‘hominy’. Corn was exported to China, Africa, Japan and India during the 16th century, but, it was ‘scorned’ when compared to wheat and rye for breadmaking.
Corn flour contains no gluten and is low in 2 essential amino acids: tryptophan and lysine. In addition to this, niacin in corn flour is poorly absorbed.
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There are 5 main types of corn: dent corn is used for breadmaking; flint corn for animal fodder; flour corn is the best quality for breadmaking, pop corn is the most popular and least nutritious; and the wonderful sweet corn is by far the most nutritious and delicious. Sweet corn, also known as ‘corn on the cob’, is full of benefits: the folate content (19mcg) is a great bonus for children or people who don’t like to eat their greens. Folate is vital for healthy growth in children, essential during pregnancy and also for the brain and nervous system.
Sweet corn is the best grain source of vitamin A (400 IU), and this combined with the top sulphur content (368mg) will protect the body against infections, especially when eaten raw or with light steaming.
The vitamin A is mainly in the form of beta-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid. One report showed a 37% reduction in the risk of lung cancer in smokers for those who regularly consumed beta-cryptoxanthin rich foods.
Sweet corn is a good source of potassium (280mg), and for those irritable children with a sweet tooth, a cob of corn for an after-school snack might hit the spot. The magnesium (48mg) might be just enough to help them concentrate and be creative with their homework too! Sweet corn is a natural treat with a very low calorie (96) and fat content (1g), so add a dab of butter and get eating. It is available nearly all year round, but it’s best and sweetest in summer.
The vitamin C (12mg) plus the good supply of fibre (0.07g) both add to the benefits of sweet corn. Unlike flour corn, it contains a good supply of vitamin B3 (1.7mg) and this, combined with the phosphorus and magnesium content, means sweet corn is food for the brain. Vitamin B3 is required for the synthesis of a nerve transmitter, acetylcholine, required for memory and protection from Alzheimer’s disease, senility and age-related mental deterioration. Make a corn soup for the elderly before you forget the benefits!
Fortunately, vitamin B3 is stable to heat, so you can cook up a storm. Even canned corn provides a portion of the benefits.
Corn chips and tacos have become a popular snack or meal maker, and even though they only provide a nutritional crunch on their own, added ingredients can make them a complete healthy meal. I have noticed children eating lettuce, grated carrot, capsicum, kidney beans and cheese when tacos are prepared, so they’re a great way to help children obtain proper nutrition. The fast and simple nachos is also a delight and the crispy tortilla can be full of flavour and natural ingredients. Corn bread is now available at supermarkets.
Try corn pancakes combined with steamed apples, a sprinkle of cracked almonds and a spoon of cream ‘Corn-on’!
NOTE: All amounts in this blog are measured in milligrams (mg) per 100 grams, unless stated otherwise.
GLYCEMIC C. P. L. CALORIES – total: 378 kcal. per 100 grams
INDEX: 103 80 11 9 Calories from: Carb: 300 Protein: 43 Fat: 35