Latin name: Zea mays
Other names: maize, sweet corn
What is Corn?
Corn, or maize, is a grass that was first domesticated by the indigenous people of Mesoamerica. An ancient crop, corn joins winter squash and beans as a long-standing food staple of the North American people. The indigenous called corn mahiz, or “that which sustains us.”
Corn grows in ears, each of which is covered in rows of kernels that are protected by corn silk; the whole package is enveloped in a husk. Although we often associate corn with our yellow summer corn on the cob, corn can feature many other colors, including red, pink, blue, and black.
Fossilized corn remains that date back to around 80,000 years ago have been found in Mexico. The Aztecs and Mayans cultivated corn in many varieties, to cook or grind. Later, corn spread through much of the Americas. After European explorers came in contact with America in the late fifteenth century, they brought maize back to Europe and it gradually spread through the rest of the world.
What are the health benefits of Corn?
Cooling in nature, corn is considered by traditional Chinese medicine to stop bleeding, promote diuresis, lower blood pressure, detoxify, and to aid in the treatment of gallstones, hepatitis, and jaundice.
Corn is rich in many nutrients including thiamin (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folate, vitamin C, dietary fiber, phosphorus, and manganese.
Corn has heart-protective properties, not only due to its fiber content, but also through the significant amounts of folate found in corn. Folate, well known as the B vitamin that prevents against birth defects, also lowers levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that can damage blood vessels and increase risk of heart attack and stroke. Folate also protects against colon cancer. One cup of corn will give you almost 20% of the recommended daily value for folate.
Corn’s content of thiamin is thought to defend against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. Pantothenic acid, the B vitamin that is a necessity in carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism, comes to the rescue when you are under stress, because it supports the function of the adrenal glands.
More information about the healing powers of Corn Silk can be found in the Herb section.
Are there any precautions for eating Corn?
A large percentage of corn comes from genetically modified (GM) seeds; for those who wish to avoid GMO foods, it is a good idea to only buy organically grown corn. Be aware that corn can cause adverse allergic reaction in susceptible individuals.
Where can I find Corn?
Corn can be found in grocery stores and some outdoor markets in the summer season.
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