Is Corn Good For You?
Nutrition Facts and More
There are many things you need to know about eating corn before deciding whether it’s good or bad for your health. If you’re interested in learning more, read on…
Corn is one of the most popular foods in America. There are millions of acres planted each year! One acre of corn yields approximately 140 pounds (60 kilograms) of edible kernels.
That means that every pound of cooked corn kernels provides 20 calories, 4 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of protein and 1 gram of fat.
The nutrition facts label on canned corn lists the number of calories per serving and some other nutritional data such as fiber content. But these numbers don’t tell the whole story because they only count the amount of sugar in the product. They don’t account for the carbs, proteins or fats found in the kernels themselves.
Canned corn contains all kinds of unhealthy ingredients like high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) and artificial colors and flavors. These additives are added to make processed food look “healthier” but they aren’t necessary to make the product taste better.
Canned sweet corn, canned cream-style corn and creamed corn all contain these ingredients so make sure you always read the nutrition information on the label to make a more informed choice!
The corn plant is actually one of the largest in the entire world. It can grow up to 20 feet tall! It’s an annual crop, which means it completes its life cycle within one year.
When it grows, it produces an ear with anywhere between two and a dozen rows of kernels. Each kernel is a seed that’s embedded in a plump, soft, moist grain called corn meal.
There are thousands of different types of corn. Some of the most popular ones are sweet corn, flint corn, popcorn and dent corn.
North America is the primary grower of sweet corn, which can be eaten off the cob and often found in grocery stores. It’s classified as a “sweet corn” because it has a higher sugar content than other types of corn.
Flint corn (also known as Indian corn) is primarily grown by American Indians and is typically used to make decorative crafts or animal feed.
Popcorn is one of the oldest types of corn and it pops when it’s heated to extreme temperatures. It’s mostly grown, canned and consumed in America.
Dent corn is primarily grown in South America and it’s most commonly used as animal feed.
The total amount of corn harvested in the U.S. every year is about 20 billion pounds, which is primarily used to feed farm animals.
The next most popular use for it is making ethanol and then canning.
Many people don’t know that corn is not only made into “corn on the cob,” but also into grits, tortillas, cereal, corn flakes and V8!
Also, in the past, dentists used a paste made from corn to fill small holes in people’s teeth. This is where the phrase “candy-filled teeth” comes from!
Today, most corn is made into various types of food products, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener made from corn that’s been processed to be extra-concentrated. The manufacturing process was invented by Japanese chemical engineers in 1966 and then later patented by the Clinton Corn Processing Company in 1983.
This substance is currently found in over 95 percent of all processed food items in America. For example, it’s put into mayonnaise, mustard, breads, ketchup and even frozen vegetables.
HFCS is typically found in shelf-stable food because it acts as a preservative that prevents spoiling. It’s described as being sweeter than table sugar, but with no distinct taste of its own. Most people describe the taste as very mild.
For example, one teaspoon of sugar is necessary to flavor a pint of regular apple sauce. However, two teaspoons of HFCS are necessary to achieve the same effect.
People have been so concerned about this ingredient that there have been “Food Fights” about banning it in some states.
HFCS is currently under fire for being unhealthy. Some research says it could be linked to causing weight gain, type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer’s disease.
However, the Corn Refiners Association disputes these claims and says that HFCS has been proven safe by the Food and Drug Administration, the American Medical Association and the American Dietetic Association.
While the jury is still out about whether or not this substance is safe, it’s probably best to limit the amount of food items you consume that have it. Also, try to look for alternatives to your favorite foods that don’t have it.
Foods that HFCS is commonly disguised as are fruit juice concentrates, molasses and sorghum.
William Marler, a lawyer from Seattle who has specialized in E. coli cases for the past 16 years, says that the most common ways of getting E. coli are through undercooked ground beef, unpasteurized milk and unwashed fruits and vegetables.
The people who had been infected during the 1993 Jack in the Box outbreak had eaten hamburgers that hadn’t been cooked all the way through. Most of them were under the age of six.
The outbreak made a huge impact on the fast food industry. For example:
McDonald’s began cooking its burgers much longer until they were well done. They also started using thermometers to make sure that the patties were cooked thoroughly.
Other fast-food chains such as Wendy’s and Burger King took similar measures to ensure the safety of their food.
Most states now have laws that require restaurants and other food-serving establishments to follow the same safety guidelines.
Marler believes that E. coli is over-hyped and that most of the people who are diagnosed with the illness get better on their own within a week. He adds that the real problem is food poisoning from other sources such as raw chicken and fish.
Another major source of food poisoning is unpasteurized dairy products.
Common symptoms of food poisoning include:
Most people begin to recover within a week, but some develop into a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This syndrome affects mainly children and the elderly, and can lead to death. The treatment usually involves intravenous feeding and dialysis.
Most of the outbreaks in the U.S. occur from May to September, when the threat of bacteria increases due to warmer weather and people eating more salads and fruit, which contains a higher amount of water for bacteria to grow in.
The most common bacteria involved in food poisoning is Staphylococcus aureus, which is found on the skin and in the noses of many healthy people.
Up to 3,000 people die each year from food poisoning.
Most food poisoning is caused by the following:
Salmonella – bacteria found in raw eggs, poultry, meat, hot dogs and other foods. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, vomiting and stomach pain that can last up to seven days.
Listeria – a bacteria found in certain types of ready-to-eat deli meats, hot dogs, raw dairy products and unpasteurized fruit juices. The infection causes fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea that can lead to miscarriages and meningitis.
Clostridium perfringens – toxin-producing bacteria that grow in food that sits out for long periods of time without proper refrigeration. Also found in undercooked meat and poultry. The symptoms are the same as salmonella and listeria.
Staphylococcus aureus – bacteria found on the skin and in the noses of people without health problems. Most common source is contaminated poultry, such as chicken or turkey. The illness usually occurs within two to five days after eating food contaminated by the bacteria and includes vomiting, nausea, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) – bacteria found in the intestines of humans and animals. Most strains are harmless, but certain strains can produce a toxin that attacks the kidneys and can lead to renal failure.
Botulism – a rare illness caused by a toxin produced from eating contaminated food. It causes paralysis and can be fatal if not treated immediately. The most common source is improperly preserved and canned food, especially home-canned vegetables and meat.
Lactic acidosis – a type of poisoning caused by a bacteria that eats up all the oxygen in the blood, causing a drop in blood-oxygen levels. The most common source is food that has been contaminated with one of the many types of lactic acid bacteria found in yogurts and cheese, such as Lactobacillus, Streptococcus and Lactococcus.
These types of poisoning are not common, but they can cause serious illness if not treated immediately.
The best way to avoid food poisoning is to follow these steps:
When preparing or eating food, always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after handling food.
Always keep meat and poultry separate from vegetables and prepare them on different cutting boards.
Do not eat raw or undercooked meat or poultry, as these can contain harmful bacteria.
When buying food at the grocery store, take a moment to read the labels and make sure the expiration date has not passed.
If you are preparing lunches or dinners to take to work or school, make sure they remain refrigerated until you are ready to eat them. Uncooked foods and meat in particular must be kept cold or they can make you sick.
Never defrost food at room temperature. Always defrost in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave.
When cooking food such as hamburgers, hot dogs or chicken on the grill, make sure to cook them until they are well done. This is especially important with hamburgers and hot dogs since these meats are more likely to have bacteria.
If you develop symptoms of food poisoning, such as diarrhea or vomiting, do not prepare any food for other people.
Most food poisoning symptoms go away within a few days and most people recover completely without any treatment.
If you are concerned about your health, you should contact your doctor. You can also report the problem to your local health department.
Avoiding food poisoning is the best way to prevent it from happening. By following a few simple steps to prevent food poisoning, you can ensure yourself of a safe and healthy summer.
A simple step you can take is to wash your hands before you prepare food and while you are preparing it. This is important because you do not know where the food you are going to eat has been. If you are chopping vegetables, you do not know where the knife has been or what was on it.
If you are preparing a meat dish, you should cook it until it is well done to kill any harmful bacteria that may be on the meat. You should also use a meat thermometer to make sure that the meat is cooked all the way through.
You can avoid cross-contamination of food by using different utensils and cutting boards for fruits and vegetables than you do for meat. This is very important because some harmful bacteria can be transferred from the meat to the other foods.
Once you have prepared the food, you should keep it out of the “Danger Zone.” The “Danger Zone” is a temperature range of 40 degrees Fahrenheit to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In this range, bacteria grow very quickly.
This means that if you leave food out for more than two hours at room temperature or one hour outside in the sun, it could make you sick. This includes leftovers!
You should also keep food out of the refrigerator for no longer than two hours. When you put food into the refrigerator, make sure it is covered so that no dust or other particles get on it.
Once you take the food out of the refrigerator, you should use it within a reasonable period of time. As soon as food is taken out of the refrigerator, bacteria start growing ,so the sooner you use it, the better.
If you are sick and have vomiting or diarrhea, do not prepare food for other people or handle their food. This could make other people sick. You should also wash your hands before touching food and after using the toilet.
If you have vomiting or diarrhea, you should not prepare food for yourself until you have been symptom-free for at least 24 hours.
Follow the tips above to help prevent food poisoning and make this summer one to remember.
Sources & references used in this article:
Nutrition facts and functional potential of quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa willd.), an ancient Andean grain: a review by A Vega‐Gálvez, M Miranda, J Vergara… – Journal of the …, 2010 – Wiley Online Library
Use of nutrition facts panels among adults who make household food purchasing decisions by JL Blitstein, WD Evans – Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 2006 – Elsevier
Device and method for monitoring dietary intake of calories and nutrients by EA Mansfield, JPA Kocher – US Patent 5,819,735, 1998 – Google Patents