Corn: benefits, nutritional values and contraindications

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Corn is a cereal with ancestral origins. The American Indians, before the arrival of Christopher Columbus, considered it the basis of life. This seed has penetrated almost all the gastronomies of the world since then.

It has countless varieties and can be found in different preparations on every continent. You must have eaten it hundreds of times in your life.

But, have you ever wondered what is in it for you? Can eating it cause you any harm? In this article we will tell you what benefits you get and its value in cooking. Read on and you will find out.

Nutritional values of corn

From a nutritional point of view, corn is superior to other grains, except for its protein content. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of corn provides 86 kilocalories, 3.27 grams of protein, 18 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of fiber. It is considered a good source of starch, since it has 5.7 grams.

It is a great source of minerals. It provides 37 milligrams of magnesium, 270 milligrams of potassium, 89 milligrams of phosphorus and 15 milligrams of sodium. Of vitamins it contains 6.8 milligrams of vitamin C, 187 International Units of vitamin A, 42 micrograms of folic acid and 23 milligrams of choline.

It is the only provitamin A cereal, which means that it is the only one capable of being converted into vitamin A by the body.

Benefits of corn

The consumption of corn has important health benefits. We explain them below.

1. Antioxidant properties

Containing carotenoids, such as lutein (644 International Units) and cryptoxanthin (115 International Units), the power to block free radicals is notorious. Both substances are considered potent antioxidants.

Lutein and cryptoxanthin are often responsible for the orange and yellow color of foods. They are carotenoids if we classify them chemically.

Antioxidants fight free radicals, which are chemicals that introduce oxygen into the body’s cells, causing oxidation in different parts and accelerating aging.

2. Weight control

Some types of corn are rich in amylose, one of the components of starch. Therefore, they help to control weight. This variety of starch is not digested in the small intestine, it reaches the large intestine and feeds the intestinal flora. Therefore, it helps to regularize transit and gives a greater feeling of satiety.

3. For brain function

By containing choline, corn becomes an important part of the diet for brain function. Choline is a nutrient that is necessary for the synthesis of acetylcholine. This is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in memory and muscle control.

In addition, corn also contains large amounts of folic acid. Folic acid is involved in the function of the central nervous system, in the metabolism of nerve cells and in the synthesis of myelin. Myelin is a substance that protects nerve cells (neurons), increasing the speed of impulse transmission.

4. Gluten-free

Corn is one of the bases of diets for people who cannot consume gluten. Gluten is a protein found in some grains such as wheat, barley and rye.

Uses of corn in cooking

Almost every household in the world consumes this product. Different ingredients can be obtained from it to prepare products or the grain can be used in preparations.

Some of the processed products that you may know and use are the following:

  • Flour.
  • Syrup.
  • Starch.
  • Paste.
  • Oil.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) states that corn is used as a staple human food in Mexico, all of Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. In these regions, the forms of preparation vary.

They are eaten boiled, roasted grain, in soup or jelly and stews known as cachapas, in fermented grains or as dough. There are numerous preparations based on corn, such as arepa, polenta, popcorn, corn bread, tacos, tamales and tortillas.

Contraindications of corn

As we already know the benefits, now it is also time to consider that the product has some contraindications. The main one lies in its high starch content. Starch is composed of glucose chains, that is, sugars, so people with diabetes should reduce the intake of this food and its derivatives.

Beyond this specific care, there are no other care recommendations for the food, as long as it is included in a varied and balanced diet, it will be prudent to include it in the diet.

On the other hand, if the diet is based entirely on corn, it will be necessary to first subject it to nixtamalization, a process by which the corn is cooked with water and quicklime to obtain the nixtamal which, after grinding, gives rise to the nixtamalized dough used to make tortillas, tamales, etc.

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