Corn Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits (2023)

Corn is a staple in cuisines all around the world. In the United States, nothing says summertime quite like corn on the cob. While plenty of people enjoy corn, many don't realize it's a very nutritious option.

Corn provides thiamin and other vitamins and minerals; one corn on the cob contains 88 calories. This budget-friendly and easy-to-find grain is also a good source of carbohydrates and is higher in protein than you might expect.

Corn Nutrition Facts

One medium-sized ear of corn (6 3/4" to 7 1/2" long) provides 88 calories, 1.4g of fat, 19g of carbohydrates, and 3.3g of protein. Corn is a good source of thiamin and also provides vitamin C, E, and A, some fiber, and potassium. This nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories:88
  • Fat:1.4g
  • Sodium:15mg
  • Carbohydrates:19g
  • Fiber:2g
  • Sugars:6.4g
  • Protein:3.3g
  • Thiamin: 0.16mg
  • Vitamin C: 6.9mg
  • Potassium: 275mg
  • Iron: 0.5mg
  • Magnesium: 37.7mg
  • Zinc: 0.5mg
  • Vitamin B5: 0.7mg
  • Folate: 42.8mcg

Carbs

There are 19 grams of carbohydrates in one ear of corn. Of those carbohydrates, fiber makes up 2 grams and natural sugars make up 6.4 grams. Corn is considered moderate on the glycemic index scale with a rating that falls between 56 and 69.

Note that if you consume corn with butter, fiber, or protein-containing foods, the glycemic effect will be substantially different than consuming it alone. Fats, fiber, and protein will slow the release of sugars into the bloodstream. The GI is a measure of foods eaten plain, in isolation, and does not have much bearing on foods eaten in meals.

Fats

Corn is naturally low in fat, with 1.4 grams per medium-sized ear. The majority of fat in corn is from heart-healthy monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.

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Protein

Corn has just over 3 grams of protein per ear. Compared to most vegetables, corn is higher in protein. That's because corn is technically not a vegetable at all, but rather a whole grain.

Vitamins and Minerals

Corn is a good source of thiamin, providing 13% of the daily value (DV) or 0.16mg. Corn also contains the nutrients potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium. It also provides folate, vitamins C and E, and vitamin A in the form of beta carotene.

Calories

One corn on the cob provides about 88 calories when consumed with no toppings. Of course, adding butter will also add calories and other nutrients, such as fat. One cup of corn (off the cob) provides about 125 calories.

The calories of a boiled ear of corn vs grilled will not differ unless you introduce another food item in preparation, such as salt, butter, oil, or some other toppings. It's possible that some of the vitamins and minerals could be lost in the boiling liquid, however.

Summary

Corn is a naturally low-fat food that provides about 88 calories per ear. Most of the calories come from carbohydrates, but corn also provides about 3.3 grams of protein. Corn also provides some fiber and is a good source of thiamin.

Health Benefits

Corn offers several health benefits beyond its vitamin and mineral content. Depending on the color, corn is rich in various antioxidants and beneficial plant compounds that protect against disease.

Reduces Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Polyphenols are beneficial plant compounds in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and nuts. Purple corn owes its color to a type of polyphenol called anthocyanin, which has been shown to improve insulin regulation and glucose.

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Including a variety of colorful, plant-based foods in your meal plan, like purple corn, is a proactive way to prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Consider the carbohydrate count if you have diabetes and want to incorporate purple corn into your diet.

May Help Prevent Colon Cancer

Corn is a good source of fiber that promotes the growth of "good bacteria" in the gut. These bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids to help prevent colon cancer. Eating fresh corn, popcorn, and other whole-grain corn products will ensure you get the most fiber out of your corn consumption.

Supports Weight Management

The most filling snacks are those high in protein and fiber, like popcorn. One cup of air-popped and unbuttered popcorn provides 31 calories, 1 gram protein, and 1 gram of fiber.

Popcorn is a whole grain snack that's minimally processed, especially when you make it fresh. Since snacks comprise about a third of most people's daily intake, choosing snack foods wisely can significantly impact body weight.

Protects Eyesight

Corn contains lutein and zeaxanthin, the forms of vitamin A that are especially beneficial for eye health. Because these compounds become concentrated in the retina, they are associated with preventing age-related macular degeneration.

The combination of lutein and zeaxanthin, along with vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, and zinc (also found in corn), has been shown to protect against this common cause of vision loss.

Promotes Heart Health

Corn provides several nutrients that offer proven cardiovascular benefits. The fiber in corn and other whole grains helps reduce cholesterol levels.

Potassium is well-known to keep blood pressure levels down, and corn contains about 6% of the daily value set by the FDA. Potassium is a "nutrient of public health concern" because not everyone consumes adequate amounts of it daily.

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Corn also has a decent amount of magnesium, about 9% to 12% of adult needs. Consuming adequate amounts of magnesium in the diet reduces the risk of stroke and ischemic heart disease. Eating fresh corn, popcorn, or even canned corn (without added salt) can help protect your heart from long-term damage.

Allergies

Food allergies to corn and environmental allergies to corn pollen are possible. Corn allergies are difficult to diagnose, but an elimination diet is often used to determine whether symptoms improve when corn is no longer consumed. Corn allergies are typically triggered by corn protein, so protein-free corn products like high-fructose corn syrup don't necessarily need to be avoided because of an allergy.

Symptoms of corn allergies may include hives, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, and a weak pulse. If you suspect an allergy to corn, see an allergist for a professional evaluation.

Adverse Effects

Corn is one of the most genetically modified plants in the food supply. Genetically modified crops have altered DNA for various traits, such as resisting herbicide or increasing yield. One percent of the corn grown in the U.S. is sweet corn, and most are not genetically modified. Sweet corn can be found in frozen form, canned, or fresh. Genetically modified corn isn't used for human consumption but for livestock feed, fuel for cars, and oil used to make sunscreen and water bottles.

High fructose corn syrup is a sweetener derived from corn syrup. It's madeby extracting corn kernels and treating them with an enzyme to make a thick, viscous syrup.

Although considered safe as other sweeteners by the FDA, high fructose corn syrup is prevalent in processed foods. It is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and other health conditions. Just as with other added sweeteners, you are limiting your intake of high fructose corn syrup is best.

Varieties

There are four basic types of corn: dent corn, flint corn, popcorn, and sweet corn. Dent corn is also known as field corn. It's used for livestock feed and in food products. Flint corn is similar to dent corn but comes in various colors. It is considered ornamental corn and is commonly displayed for decoration. Popcorn has a tough outer shell and soft, starchy center that steams and explodes when heated.

Sweet corn is higher in starch and sugar. It's picked while still immature and tender. Sweet corn comes in white, yellow, or a combination of kernel colors. When you buy corn on the cob, it's sweet corn.

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When It's Best

Fresh corn is in season during the summer months, from July through September. Choose corn that has firm, plump kernels. Skip any cobs with signs of mold, insects, or decay. You can find fresh corn in the stalks or already shucked.

Corn products, including canned and frozen corn, are available during any time of the year. Canned corn often comes in a cream sauce or added sugar or salt. Check the ingredients label to see what's in your product. Corn-based products like popcorn, cornmeal, corn starch, corn flour, corn grits, and porridge are available in grocery stores throughout the year.

Storage and Food Safety

Sweet corn is best eaten shortly after it's picked. The longer it sits, the less sweet it tastes. You can store corn in the refrigerator with the husks on or off. Raw corn that's been removed from the husk should be used within one or two days. Keep cooked corn in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Corn can also be frozen or canned at home. Use dry or preserved corn products by the dates specified on the product label.

How to Prepare

Corn is usually cooked, but raw corn is edible too. Cut the kernels off the cob and add them to salads or other favorite dishes for a sweet crunch.

Shucked corn (meaning the skins and husks have been removed) can be grilled, boiled, microwaved, or steamed. If you prefer, leave the husks on for roasting or grilling and remove them before eating.

Corn is naturally sweet and doesn't need very much added flavoring to taste good. Keep corn recipes simple to enjoy the natural flavor and nutrition that this whole grain offers.

FAQs

What is the nutritional benefit of corn? ›

Corn is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from damage and wards off diseases like cancer and heart disease. Yellow corn is a good source of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which are good for eye health and help prevent the lens damage that leads to cataracts.

What are 3 health benefits of corn? ›

Corn is high in dietary fiber, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Fiber is the bulk in plant-based foods that your body doesn't digest. Although it's indigestible, the fiber in corn offers many other advantages, like regulating bowel movements, managing blood sugar levels, and more.

How many nutrients and minerals does corn contain? ›

Corn and sweet corn provide a wide variety of vitamins (carotenoids, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine, folate, ascorbic acid, vitamin E and vitamin K), minerals (calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium and zinc) and resistant starches.

Do humans get nutrients from corn? ›

Corn is nutritious, providing fiber, which aids in digestion, plus folate, thiamin, phosphorus, vitamin C, and magnesium (about 10% of the daily value for each).

What is the most nutritious way to eat corn? ›

Eating fresh whole corn on the cob, cooked corn as a side dish, or popcorn gives you the whole package of this plant food – all nutrients intact. These whole-food options are the healthiest choices when it comes to eating corn.

What does corn do for the brain? ›

Eating corn helps the brain function normally, reducing your loved one's risk of experiencing memory loss. Corn contains high levels of vitamin B1, also known as thiamine. To help his or her body produce acetylcholine, your loved one needs to consume thiamine.

Is corn good for gut health? ›

Corn is rich in fiber and plant compounds that may aid digestive and eye health.

Why is corn important to humans? ›

Most of the crop is used domestically as the main energy ingredient in livestock feed and for fuel ethanol production. Corn is also processed into a multitude of food and industrial products including starch, sweeteners, corn oil, and beverage and industrial alcohols.

Why is corn inflammatory? ›

Processed Corn

There are a variety of corn derivatives like high-fructose corn syrup, corn flour, and corn oil. Eating corn in these refined forms spikes blood sugar and as we have seen above, spiked blood sugar leads to an increased insulin response, which creates a major inflammatory response.

What 3 nutrients does corn need the most of? ›

For each tonne of yield, a corn crop requires defined quantities of nutrients. Nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) are nutrients required in the greatest quantities followed by sulphur (S), phosphorus (P), calcium (Ca) and magnesium (Mg).

Is corn good for liver? ›

Corn peptides improved obesity-induced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease through relieving lipid metabolism, insulin resistance and oxidative stress.

How long does corn stay in your system? ›

Furthermore, the duration of corn in the bowel was reported as the time period from when corn was first seen in the stool until corn was last seen in the stool. The median duration of corn in the bowel was reported as 36 (0–166) h. The characteristics of male and female participants were compared (Table 2).

Why doesn't the body digest corn? ›

Corn is an especially common culprit for undigested food in stool. This is because corn has an outer shell of a compound called cellulose. Your body doesn't contain enzymes that specifically break down cellulose.

Does corn turn into sugar in the body? ›

Corn contains natural carbohydrates which are broken down into simple sugars during digestion. Sugars from food are absorbed into your bloodstream and can raise your blood sugar levels. Every person will have a unique glycemic response to corn.

Is corn good for a diabetic? ›

Yes, you can eat corn if you have diabetes. Corn is a source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It's also low in sodium and fat. That said, follow the advice of the American Diabetes Association.

What happens to your body when you eat corn? ›

Corn is high in cellulose, which is an insoluble fiber that the body cannot digest. However, the body breaks down the other components of corn. Chewing corn for longer can also help the digestive system break down cellulose walls to access more of the nutrients.

Is corn healthier than rice? ›

Corn is a great source of potassium, which is said to help lower blood pressure, and it's a better source of antioxidants than wheat, rice or oats. It's especially high in carotenoids, the antioxidants that help keep your eyes healthy. And naturally, corn is high in fibre.

Is it good to eat corn everyday? ›

Corn contains a heavy dose of sugar and carbohydrate. Taking too much corn can lead to weight gain. People on a diet should avoid consumption of corn.

Is corn anti aging? ›

The antioxidant zeaxanthin, a yellow pigment found in corn, acts as a protective agent. When your loved one eats corn, this antioxidant protects him or her against macular degeneration and other eye diseases caused by aging. The folate in corn also provides some of the same benefits as zeaxanthin.

Does corn clean your colon? ›

Corn is one superb source of insoluble fiber, the type of fiber your body cannot digest. This fiber acts like a scrub brush and sweeps your colon clean.

What are the 3 foods that fight memory loss? ›

What are the foods that fight memory loss? Berries, fish, and leafy green vegetables are 3 of the best foods that fight memory loss. There's a mountain of evidence showing they support and protect brain health.

Is corn good for arthritis? ›

Inflammatory fats

According to the Arthritis Foundation, a person with arthritis should limit the following: Omega 6 fatty acids: Several oils, such as corn, safflower, sunflower, and vegetable, contain high levels of these acids.

What foods heal the gut lining? ›

To combat leaky gut, eat foods that promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria, including fruits, cultured dairy products, healthy fats, lean meats, and fibrous and fermented vegetables. Avoid processed and refined junk foods.

Is corn a probiotic? ›

There's something extra special about corn fiber. It's a prebiotic, meaning it's fermented by gut microbes and stimulates the growth of good bacteria, according to the research of Joanne Slavin, PhD, a registered dietitian and professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota.

Is corn good for the skin? ›

It can help you to maintain a healthy skin: Corn is jam-packed with vitamin C and lycopene are potential antioxidants that prevent your skin from the damage of by free radicals and can also help you to maintain the elasticity of your skin.

Why do Native Americans eat corn? ›

Corn protein lacks the essential amino acid Lysine. American Indians solved this problem by eating corn alongside Lysine-rich beans, thus reducing the need for animals as a source of protein (Niethammer, 126). Beans plants were also intermixed with corn plants to help balance the soil's nitrogen levels (EOG, 254).

Is corn used in medicine? ›

Ancient peoples used corn to treat headaches and bruises, and they also used it as a diuretic. Through the ages the uses of corn medicinally have evolved. While it is no longer used as a treatment for bruises and headaches, corn silk is still used as a diuretic.

What is the number 1 vegetable to avoid? ›

Cruciferous Vegetables

Vegetables that belong to the cabbage family such as cauliflower, Brussels, broccoli, and sprouts should never be consumed raw. These vegetables contain sugar that is difficult to digest. Eating these vegetables raw may lead to a number of gastronomical problems.

Which protein makes arthritis worse? ›

Dairy products, because for many people, casein, a protein common in milk, ice cream and cheese, has been shown to irritate the tissue around joints.

Can corn cause leaky gut? ›

Although corn is touted as healthy food, just like gluten, it can cause a leaky gut. This is because, to many people's bodies, the protein in corn can look like gluten, and they “cross-react” to it.

Is corn a vegetable or protein? ›

Fresh corn is considered a starchy vegetable. Its nutrient content differs from dry corn, and it is eaten in different ways -- often on the cob, as a side dish, or mixed with other vegetables.

Is corn nutritionally a vegetable? ›

Ultimately, like many other types of produce, corn can be considered a grain, a vegetable, and a fruit. No matter how you categorize it, though, corn provides energizing carbs, filling fiber, and nutrients like vitamin C, thiamine, folate, and potassium, making it a worthwhile part of a healthy diet, says Gorin.

Is corn a protein or grain? ›

Corn is one of the most widely consumed cereal grains. As a good source of antioxidant carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, yellow corn may promote eye health. It's also a rich source of many vitamins and minerals.

What is the super food for liver? ›

Cruciferous veges

Veges such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale contain glutathione, which kickstarts the liver's toxin cleansing enzymes of the liver. Eating them will increase production of glucosinolate in your system, which helps flush out carcinogens and other toxins.

What foods make liver strong? ›

The liver is part of the body's natural detoxification system, which helps filter out toxins. Foods that support liver health include berries, cruciferous vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, and fatty fish. Coffee and green tea contain antioxidants that are helpful for liver health.

What vegetables are good for liver repair? ›

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collards are loaded with antioxidants. They're also packed with fiber, and other things your liver needs.

What is the fastest food can pass through you? ›

The quickest to digest are processed, sugary junk foods like candy bars. Your body tears through them in a matter of hours, quickly leaving you hungry again.

What food takes the longest to digest? ›

The foods with the longest time to digest are bacon, beef, lamb, whole milk hard cheese, and nuts. These foods take an average of about 4 hours for your body to digest. The digestion process still occurs even when asleep. Which means our digestive fluids and the acids in our stomach are active.

Is corn hard on the digestive system? ›

Corn is made up of cellulose and the human body does not have the right enzymes to break it down. This makes it difficult for the digestive system to fully break down corn and can sometimes lead to gas and bloating.

Is corn good for losing belly fat? ›

Corn can cause weight gain if eaten in excess like any other food. However, when eaten in moderation, the high fiber content in corn can contribute to weight loss. Corn can contribute to weight reduction as a whole, and it does not have any particular effect on belly fat.

What are the hardest foods to digest? ›

Worst Foods for Digestion
  • Fried Foods. 1/10. They're high in fat and can bring on diarrhea. ...
  • Citrus Fruits. 2/10. Because they're high in fiber and they are acidic, they can give some folks an upset stomach. ...
  • Artificial Sugar. 3/10. ...
  • Too Much Fiber. 4/10. ...
  • Beans. 5/10. ...
  • Cabbage and Its Cousins. 6/10. ...
  • Fructose. 7/10. ...
  • Spicy Foods. 8/10.
Aug 30, 2021

Why does corn reform in poop? ›

Not so for corn—so why does it always seem to pass through our bodies whole? It may not have a hard shell, but each kernel of corn has an outer casing composed of cellulose, which cannot be broken down by human enzymes. The inside of the kernel gets digested, but the cellulose casing remains visible in the stool.

Does corn clean your system? ›

Corn is one superb source of insoluble fiber, the type of fiber your body cannot digest. This fiber acts like a scrub brush and sweeps your colon clean.

Is corn better than rice for diabetes? ›

Corn has a lower glycemic index while rice is the preferred choice in low-fat diet. Grits contain more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than rice which can help to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, anemia, and some cancers.

Does whole corn spike blood sugar? ›

The short answer is yes, corn raises your blood sugar. Corn has carbohydrates and carbohydrate is the nutrient in foods that raise blood glucose (sugar) levels. The amount and type of carbohydrate determines how fast and how long are the blood glucose (sugar) peaks.

Is Sweet Potato good for diabetics? ›

Sweet potatoes have a sterling nutritional profile, making them a great food for people with diabetes. Here's how to start incorporating them into your diet. Sweet potatoes are one of the most popular foods for diabetes at Everyday Health, and with good reason.

Is corn good for insulin? ›

Corn also contains certain phytochemicals that help lower insulin absorption in the body, thereby controlling sudden drops and spikes in blood glucose levels. So overall, sweet corn is good for diabetes.

Is eating corn everyday good for you? ›

Corn contains a heavy dose of sugar and carbohydrate. Taking too much corn can lead to weight gain. People on a diet should avoid consumption of corn. Corn syrup is considered worse than sugar and is identified as a leading cause of obesity in many nations.

Is corn a nutritious vegetable? ›

They contain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Corn specifically contains a much higher amount of vitamin A than other grains. It's also a great source of antioxidants. Corn is also considered a starchy vegetable.

Is corn a protein or carbohydrate? ›

Corn is a naturally low-fat food that provides about 88 calories per ear. Most of the calories come from carbohydrates, but corn also provides about 3.3 grams of protein. Corn also provides some fiber and is a good source of thiamin.

What does corn do to your stomach? ›

The human digestive tract cannot break down cellulose. Corn passes through your system undigested; as such, it can cause cramps, abdominal pain, and gas in the process.

Is corn good for belly fat? ›

Corn can cause weight gain if eaten in excess like any other food. However, when eaten in moderation, the high fiber content in corn can contribute to weight loss. Corn can contribute to weight reduction as a whole, and it does not have any particular effect on belly fat.

Is canned corn still nutritious? ›

Canned corn is nutritious and shelf-stable

It is also rich in vitamin C, minerals, antioxidants, and beta carotene. According to Healthfully, canned corn is rich in protein, vitamin C, and fiber that supports a healthy digestive tract.

Is canned sweet corn healthy? ›

Benefits of eating corn

One of the main nutritional benefits of sweetcorn is its high fibre content. And as we know, dietary fibre is important for our health: it aids digestion, it can decrease the risk of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes and bowel cancer. On top of that, fibre helps you stay fuller for longer.

Is corn good for cholesterol? ›

It may help regulate carbohydrate, lipid and protein metabolism in the body. It may help in the production of healthy red blood cells. It might help increase good cholesterol in the blood.

Does corn cause blood sugar spikes? ›

Does corn raise blood sugar? The short answer is yes, corn raises your blood sugar. Corn has carbohydrates and carbohydrate is the nutrient in foods that raise blood glucose (sugar) levels. The amount and type of carbohydrate determines how fast and how long are the blood glucose (sugar) peaks.

Is corn high in sugar? ›

Corn's glycemic index and glycemic load do not cause any significant blood glucose spikes. However, sweet corn has a high level of natural carbs or sugar, so a person with diabetes should have it in moderate quantities.

Does corn help with digestion? ›

Corn, similarly to many grains, legumes, and vegetables, contains dietary fiber. Fiber can help with digestion and reduce the risk of constipation. Some research also suggests fiber may help people live longer.

Why does corn not digest? ›

Corn is an especially common culprit for undigested food in stool. This is because corn has an outer shell of a compound called cellulose. Your body doesn't contain enzymes that specifically break down cellulose. However, your body can break down the food components that are inside corn.

How long does it take to digest corn? ›

Between 24 and 36 hours is the about how soon you'd expect to see those kernels if your bowel is working well.

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