Health benefits of corn include controlling diabetes, prevention of heart ailments, lowering hypertension and prevention of neural-tube defects at birth. Corn or maize is one of the most popular cereals in the world and forms the staple food in many countries including USA, Africa etc. It not only provides the necessary calories for daily metabolism, but is a rich source of vitamins A, B, E and many minerals. Its high fibre content ensures that it plays a role in prevention of digestive ailments like constipation and hemorrhoids as well as colorectal cancer. The antioxidants present in corn also act as anti-cancer agents and prevent Alzheimer’s.
Health benefits of corn are offered by presence of quality nutrients in it. Also, being rich in physiochemical, it provides protection against numerous chronic diseases. The following are some of the health benefits of corn:
• Prevention of Hemorrhoids and Colorectal Cancer: The fibre content of one cup of corn amounts 18.4% of the daily recommended amount. This aids in alleviating digestive problems such as constipation and haemorrhoids, as well as lowering the risk of colon cancer.
• Rich Source of Vitamins: Corn is rich in vitamin B constituents, especially Thiamin and Niacin. Thiamin is essential for maintaining nerve health and cognitive function. Niacin deficiency leads to Pellagra; a disease characterized by diarrhoea, dementia and dermatitis and is commonly observed in malnourished individuals. Corn is also a good source of Pantothenic acid which is a vitamin necessary for carbohydrate as well as protein and lipid metabolism in the body. Deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women leads to birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects at birth. Corn provides a large chunk of the daily folate requirement. Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene which forms vitamin A in the body, essential for maintenance of good vision and skin. The kernels of corn are rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant essential for growth.
• Provides Necessary Minerals: Corn contains abundant phosphorus apart from magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper. It also contains trace minerals like selenium. Phosphorus is essential for maintenance of normal growth, bone health and normal kidney functioning. Magnesium is necessary for maintaining normal heart rate and for bone strength.
• Antioxidant Properties of Corn: According to studies carried out at Cornell University, corn is a rich source of antioxidants which fight the cancer causing free radicals. In fact, cooking increases the antioxidants in sweet corn. Corn is a rich source of a phenolic compound ferulic acid, an anti-cancer agent which has been shown to be effective in fighting tumours in breast cancer and liver cancer. Anthocyanins, found in purple corn also act as scavengers of cancer-causing free radicals.
• Cardio-Protective Attributes: According to researchers, corn oil has been shown to anti-atherogenic effect on the cholesterol levels, thus preventing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
• Prevents Anaemia: The vitamin B12 and folic acid present in corn prevent anaemia caused by the deficiency of these vitamins.
• Lowering LDL Cholesterol: According to Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, consumption of corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL cholesterol by reducing cholesterol absorption by the body.
• Protection against Diabetes and Hypertension: Consumption of corn kernels assists the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and is effective against hypertension due to the presence of phenolic phytochemicals in whole corn.
• Cosmetic Benefits: Corn starch is used in the manufacture of many cosmetics and may also be applied topically to soothe skin rashes and irritations. Corn products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which form major components of cosmetic preparations.