Healing Properties of Corn
Hot, fresh corn-on-the-cob is an almost essential part of any summertime party. Fortunately, it is also worthy part of any healthful menu. Our food ranking system qualified corn as a good source of many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, dietary fiber, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese.
Corn for Cardiovascular Health
Corn’s contribution to heart health lies not just in its fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate that corn supplies.
Folate, which you may know about as a B-vitamin needed to prevent birth defects, also helps to lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that is an intermediate product in an important metabolic process called the methylation cycle. Homocysteine can directly damage blood vessels, so elevated blood levels of this dangerous molecule are an independent risk factor for heart attack, stroke, or peripheral vascular disease, and are found in between 20-40% of patients with heart disease. It has been estimated that consumption of 100% of the daily value (DV) of folate would, by itself, reduce the number of heart attacks suffered by Americans each year by 10%. Folate-rich diets are also associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer. A cup of corn supplies 19.0% of the DV for folate
Supports Lung Health
Consuming foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin, an orange-red carotenoid found in highest amounts in corn, pumpkin, papaya, red bell peppers, tangerines, oranges and peaches, may significantly lower one’s risk of developing lung cancer. A study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention reviewed dietary and lifestyle data collected from over 63,000 adults in Shanghai, China, who were followed for 8 years. Those eating the most crytpoxanthin-rich foods showed a 27% reduction in lung cancer risk. When current smokers were evaluated, those who were also in the group consuming the most cryptoxanthin-rich foods were found to have a 37% lower risk of lung cancer compared to smokers who ate the least of these health-protective foods.
Maintain Your Memory with Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
Corn is a good source of thiamin, providing about one-quarter (24.0%) of the daily value for this nutrient in a single cup. Thiamin is an integral participant in enzymatic reactions central to energy production and is also critical for brain cell/cognitive function. This is because thiamin is needed for the synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter essential for memory, whose lack has been found to be a significant contributing factor in age-related impairment in mental function (senility) and Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, Alzheimer’s disease is clinically characterized by a decrease in acetylcholine levels. Don’t forget to make corn a staple in your healthy diet.
Support for Energy Production, Even Under Stress
In addition to its thiamin, corn is a good source of pantothenic acid. This B vitamin is necessary for carbohydrate, protein and lipid metabolism. Pantothenic acid is an especially valuable B-vitamin when you’re under stress since it supports the function of the adrenal glands. A cup of corn supplies 14.4% of the daily value for pantothenic acid.
- The best way to store un-husked corn is to keep it wrapped in a damp cloth and try to use it within a day or two, not longer than 3-4 days if you want maximum flavor and nutrients. Un-husked corn is best stored on the refrigerator shelf, not in the crisper. Remember to keep that corn silk. It can be used in teas and when making soaps and lotions.