The health benefits of corn have been highly underrated in past studies. This true American food now shows to have far more antioxidants than we once thought. Phytonutrients in corn exist primarily as bound phenolics. That means they don't absorb rapidly in the bloodstream but require the bacteria in the colon to break down to a useful form.
Just like other whole grain products, there are a relatively small percentage of free phenolics in them, once used as the standard measure. However, once scientists took into account the bound phenolics, corn suddenly popped up from worst to first. The doctors doing the study now have an understanding why populations consuming high amounts of corn have lower incidence of colon cancer.
The scientists now believe the synergistic effect of all the various phytochemicals in whole grains such as corn that keep the body healthy. Each does a different job. The substances are in the various parts of the corn, such as the bran, germ and endosperm of the corn.
Refining any grain removes the bran and germ, so eating corn on the cob may be the tastiest and a true hallmark of the summer months, it may also be the healthiest way you can consume the vegetable.
Corn is a good source for many different nutrients. It contains a high amount of vitamin B1 (thiamin), B5 (pantothenic acid), folate, vitamin C, phosphorus and manganese. It's also a great source of dietary fiber.
The thiamin in the corn is part of the process of converting food to energy in the body and a major player in the functions of the brain cells to perform cognitive duties. Its use as a synthesis for acetylocholine, the neurotransmitter that helps memory, retards the development of senility and the formation of Alzheimer's disease, makes it important as a deterrent for the development of age related senility. One cup gives you about one-fourth your daily requirement.
Pantothenic acid helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats and protein. It's an important vitamin for those under stress since it also functions to support the adrenal glands. You get 14.4 percent of the amount you need daily from that same cup of corn.
Smokers take note and grab an ear of corn whenever you can. Corn is rich in beta-cryptoxanthin. This is the carotenoid found not only high in corn but also in pumpkin, red bell pepper, papaya, tangerines and oranges. A study of 63,000 Chinese adults showed that those who consumed foods high in beta-cryptoxanthin had a reduced risk of cancer by almost 27 percent. When the study compared the health of smokers, those with a diet higher in foods rich in beta-cryptoxanthin had a reduction in risk from lung caner of 37 percent compared to their smoking counterparts with diets lower in beta-cryptoxanthin.
Although fiber is important to heart health, it isn't just the fiber making corn good for the heart. Corn also contains folate. Folate plays a role in lowering the homocysteine levels. Homocysteine damages blood vessels and if you have an elevated level of this substance, scientists find you also have an elevated risk for heart attack, peripheral vascular disease and stroke. Simply by consuming adequate amounts of folate each day, scientists estimate that Americans could reduce the number of heart attacks by as much as 10 percent. Increased amounts of folate in the diet also reduce the risk of colon cancer. Just one cup of corn gives you 19 percent of your daily-required amount of folate.
It seems that the delicious treat for a summer cookout is also quite healthy so you can eat as much as you'd like. Of course, slathering on the butter might not be helpful to your waistline, but keep telling yourself, you're doing it for your health because of all the health benefits of corn.