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NOT SO CORNY about CORNS

Written by Ma. Idelia G. Glorioso, RUMD

 

Are you a corn-eater?

 

Well, you should be because eating corn has a lot of health benefits. Popcorn, corn flakes, corn chips, cornbread, corn oil, corn syrup, and cornstarch, among other foods, popularly consumed are obviously made from corn. Corn has always been an important food for centuries. In fact, corn is the second staple food of Filipinos.

Based on the 2003 food consumption survey (6th National Nutrition Survey) by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), corn is 3.4 percent of the total food intake. It is mainly consumed in Central Visayas, Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula at 136, 133 and 116 grams per capita respectively. The mean one-day per capita food consumption for the whole country is 30 grams raw, 27 grams milled and 3 grams on the cob.

Today, the most popular varieties of corn are white and yellow. Yellow corn has larger, buttery-flavored kernels, while white corn kernels are smaller and sweeter. Both varieties of corn have been used as animal feed and for human consumption.

Depending on the variety, corn is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Yellow corn contains pro-vitamin A and has almost twice as much iron than white corn. White corn does not have any pro-vitamin A but it has more thiamin and niacin than the yellow variety.

The protein content of white corn is slightly more than that found in the yellow corn. Both varieties contain the same amount of calcium. The table below shows the nutrient content of white and yellow corn on the cob:

Corn is associated with many health benefits aside from being nutritious.

White corn is considered as a low glycemic index (GI) food. A low glycemic index food has a GI of less than 60. Glycemic index is the glucose response of an individual to a food as compared to a reference food, e.g. white bread. It is the ranking of food from 0 to 100 that tells whether a food will raise blood sugar levels dramatically, moderately or just a little.

Here are some tips when buying and storing corn:

  • They should have fresh green, tightly fitting husks, with golden brown silk, and tip ends that are free of decay. Ears should be evenlycovered with plump, consistently sized kernels.
  • Avoid corn that has been on display with husks pulled back, or with discolored or dry-looking husks, stem ends, or kernels.
  • It is best to cook corn as soon as possible after it is picked or purchased. After being picked, the corn’s natural sugars gradually convert to starch, lessening the corns natural sweetness.

Corn being a vegetable other than a staple, is not only nutritious but it has many health benefits!. According to the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos 2000 developed by the Technical Working Group headed  by the FNRI-DOST, you should eat more vegetables, fruits, and rootcrops.