A walk by the sea shore or in any public place and you will see people biting into the popular corn on cob commonly known as “Bhutta” (Hindi) or “Makka Cholam” (Tamil). Corn has become a major productive crop species today and with people becoming aware of its benefits, it’s no longer just a cattle food!
Sam Donaldson said: “You really get the most out of sweet corn if you pick the corn off the stalk and rush it to a pot of boiling water. The longer you wait, the more sugar you lose. But if you get it in the first half hour, that is the sweetest corn ever”.
Surprisingly, the infamously hard to digest corn actually holds unbelievable health benefits! Following are a few health benefits of corn:
► Traditionally known as maize, corn is a rich source of vitamin B1, vitamin B5, vitamin C, dietary fiber, phosphorus and manganese. Corn is a good source of pantothenic acid (a B vitamin) required for carbohydrate, protein and fat metabolism. It also helps relieve stress. It is also a good source of thiamin (B vitamin). It is needed in synthesis of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter critical for brain cell function.
► Corn is rich in folate. A recent study revealed that the folic acid in corn is now considered as an important factor in preventing neural tube-birth defects.
► Folate in corn also helps in lowering the levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine is an amino acid that can damage blood vessels if present in elevated blood levels and is a great risk factor for heart attack and heart disease.
► Corn is rich in phenolic phytonutrients (anti-oxidants) that help prevent a number of diseases. A study from the University of Massachusetts revealed that phenolic compounds in the ‘whole grain’ form of corn have a potential protective effect against diabetes and hypertension.
From corn on cob to corn flour this crop has multifold benefits and is consumed in different fashion that we are not aware of.
Corn probably leaves all other crops behind in terms of by-products. It is virtually in every food that is processed – corn flakes, corn syrup, corn oil, corn puffs, corn meal, corn bread, corn flour, corn starch, corn on cob, pop-corn and the list goes on. These are the edible byproducts though. It can be a revelation that in a typical grocery store nearly 2500 items contain corn in one form or the other.
Practically, soups would be incomplete without corn kernels or baby corn in it and to top it all corn flour is used as a thickening agent to make any soup at all. Of course there are other thickening agents too that are used in the soups and sauces but corn flour tops the chart
Besides food items adhesives, antibiotics, explosives, wall paper, shoe polish, paper board, latex paint, insecticides, licorice, pharmaceuticals, ethanol and many more products actually use this golden crop! Even the industry acknowledges how corn plays an important role from being the cattle food to building economy of the nation. Critically acclaimed movie “The Informant” starts off with Matt Damon describing the byproducts of corn to his son!
Anne Raver quoted: “Gardens, scholars say, are the first sign of commitment to a community. When people plant corn they are saying, let's stay here. And by their connection to the land, they are connected to one another.
Last but not the least, corn has and continues playing an important role in cultural and spiritual beliefs. Mayan, Navajo Indian’s, Spaniards, Mexicans, Native Americans and many tribes use corn in their prayers, offerings, craft and food.