The United States produces more corn than any other country. Heavy subsidies and
genetic modification to resist insects and bacteria makes corn very affordable for a
multitude of uses including ethanol production, livestock feed, and corn syrup. With mounting evidence of processed foods contributing to obesity related diseases corn has received a bad reputation.
According to the Non-GMO Project, 88% of U.S. corn is genetically modified, meaning genetic material has been artificially manipulated in a laboratory. Concerns over
unstable combinations of gene variations that do not occur in nature interacting with animals and bacteria is being studied. While no long term studies have looked at GMO’s impact in humans, several animal studies have identified serious health risks including infertility, accelerated aging, immune problems, alterations in insulin
sensitivity, changes in the GI tract, and changes in major organs. In more than 60
countries around the world, including the European Union, there are significant
restrictions and bans on GMO’s. Despite this the U.S. approves the use of GMO’s and does not mandate GMO’s being listed on the food label for consumer transparency.
We can find plenty of delicious sweet corn in our grocery stores this time of year and some consumers might be concerned whether corn is healthy or not. Corn is a low fat complex carbohydrate with about 60 calories in one ear, the same as a small apple. Corn is a wonderful source of lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals which can promote healthy vision. It is a good source of fiber, folate, niacin, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Cooking corn actually increases its antioxidant capacity, helping to protect the body from cancer and inflammation.
Corn can be a healthy complex carbohydrate depending on how it is prepared. For those concerns with GMO’s purchase Non-GMO Project Verified sweet corn (list available on www.nongmoproject.org) or purchase Organic corn, since Certified Organic farmers are not allowed to use GMO seeds. Grilling, boiling, and roasting corn brings out its natural sweetness. A small drizzle of olive oil can help enhance the flavor. Avoid using copious amounts of butter, salt, or cream when preparing corn for better cardiovascular health. Also keep servings to around 1/2 cup or one ear of corn for portion control. Corn is certainly a healthy food to enjoy this summer when enjoyed in moderation.