7 Health Benefits Of Sweet Corn

Last updated June 20, 2016

Sweet corn or maize (Zea mays subsp. mays) is a large grain plant native to Mesoamerica. Each stalk produces ears of corn, which contain many seeds called kernels. The kernels contain the edible starch of the plant. Sweet corn is the result of a naturally occurring recessive mutation in the genes, which control the conversion of sugar to starch inside the corn kernel. The ears are picked when immature and prepared and eaten as a vegetable, rather than a grain.

Here are the 7 health benefits of sweet corn:

1.     Sweet corn is a rich source of calories.

Some may be afraid of the word “calorie,” but we need calories to live. Corn provides a great staple with 342 calories per 100 grams (about a large ear of corn). This plant also has a very low glycemic index. Foods high on the glycemic index (such as white rice and white bread) will break down rapidly and cause blood sugar, and insulin level jumps after meals, which is followed by quickly crashing blood sugar levels. Sweet corn will slowly absorb into the bloodstream, creating a more stable blood sugar level.

2.     Sweet corn is loaded with the B-vitamin complex.

Sweet corn is rich in B-vitamin constituents, particularly thiamin (B1) and niacin (B3). Thiamin is essential for maintaining proper nerve health and cognitive function. Niacin has been known to increase an individual’s “good” cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. A deficiency of niacin leads to Pellagra - a disease characterized by diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis, and insomnia, the inability to sleep.

Sweet corn is also a good source of pantothenic acid (B5), which is an essential vitamin for carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism in the body. Folic acid (B9) helps the body to produce healthy red blood cells and prevents anemia. It is also necessary for aiding rapid cell division and growth, such as during infancy and pregnancy. A deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women can lead to the birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects in newborns.

3.     Sweet corn can help fight anemia.

Anemia is the decrease of red blood cells or the amount of hemoglobin in the blood. The vitamin B12 and folic acid found in corn help prevent anemia caused by a vitamin deficiency. Corn is also a good source of iron, which is essential for the body to create new red blood cells.

4.     Sweet corn can help improve one’s cholesterol levels.

As stated before, niacin is great for increasing an individual’s “good” cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Also, according to the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, corn husk oil has been found to lower plasma “bad cholesterol. Health benefits include the reduction of heart disease and the prevention of atherosclerosis.

5.     Sweet corn can help boost your vitamin A levels.

Sweet corn is rich in beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A and provides maintenance of great vision and skin. Vitamin A can also help one’s mucous membranes and improves one’s immune system. The beta-carotene that is not converted into vitamin A acts as an excellent antioxidant and fights diseases like cancer and heart disease.

6.     Sweet corn may possess cosmetic benefits.

Corn starch is used in many cosmetic products and may also be applied to the skin to soothe rashes and irritation. Corn products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products, which are major constituents of many cosmetic preparations.

7.     Sweet corn can help one fight cancer.

A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry suggested that corn is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants fight cancer-causing free radicals and can induce apoptosis in cancerous cells while leaving healthy cells unaffected. Corn is also rich in ferulic acid, an anticarcinogenic agent that has been shown to be effective in fighting the tumors, which lead to breast and liver cancer. Anthocyanins, found in purple corn, also act eliminates cancer-causing free radicals.

Additional Resources:

  1. Corn, sweet, yellow, raw Nutrition Facts & Calories. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2415/2
  2. Borek, C. (2004). Dietary antioxidants and human cancer. Integrative cancer therapies3(4), 333-341.
  3. Layrisse, M., Cook, J. D., Martinez, C., Roche, M., Kuhn, I. N., Walker, R. B., & Finch, C. A. (1969). Food iron absorption: a comparison of vegetable and animal foods. Blood33(3), 430-443.
  4. Yu, B. H., & Kies, C. (1993). Niacin, thiamin, and pantothenic acid bioavailability to humans from maize bran as affected by milling and particle size. Plant foods for human nutrition43(1), 87-95.
  5. Ramjiganesh, T., Roy, S., Nicolosi, R. J., Young, T. L., McIntyre, J. C., & Fernandez, M. L. (2000). Corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL cholesterol concentrations by decreasing cholesterol absorption and altering hepatic cholesterol metabolism in guinea pigs. The Journal of nutritional biochemistry11(7), 358-366.
  6. Ostlund, R. E., Racette, S. B., Okeke, A., & Stenson, W. F. (2002). Phytosterols that are naturally present in commercial corn oil significantly reduce cholesterol absorption in humans. The American journal of clinical nutrition75(6), 1000-1004.
  7. Burton, G. W., & Ingold, K. U. (1984). b-Carotene: an unusual type of lipid antioxidant. Science224, 569-574. 
  8. Dewanto, V., Wu, X., & Liu, R. H. (2002). Processed sweet corn has higher antioxidant activity. Journal of Agricultural and food Chemistry50(17), 4959-4964.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: July 16, 2014
Last updated: June 20, 2016

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