A late summer BBQ isn’t complete without corn on the cob, and we’re not the first culture to feel this way! Corn has been a long time staple of Native American cultures, the Mayans, Incas and Aztecs. Early varieties came in a rainbow of colours, featuring white, yellow, red and even black/purple kernels. Today, however, our choices are typically limited to either the white or yellow varieties.
Although the white variety is sweeter, yellow corn contains more carotenoids, giving it a higher antioxidant concentration. Corn also contains phenolic phytonutrients and fiber, which contribute to its’ ability to lower the risk of colon cancer.
Like many other fruits and vegetables, corn contains significant amounts of folate, which helps to recycle the metabolic by-product homocysteine. As a result, it may help lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease. High in fibre, it helps bind and move cholesterol out of the body via the bowels.
Corn is also a good source of thiamine (vitamin B1) and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5). Both are important in the process of metabolizing food for energy. Pantothenic acid is especially important during times of stress since it also supports adrenal gland function. Additionally, it is a good source of vitamin K and potassium.
The health benefits go beyond the kernels – the silk is highly medicinal as well! Lightly dried and made into a tea, corn silk is a gentle diuretic that is anti-inflammatory and soothing for the urinary tract. It has been used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, bedwetting, congestive heart failure and high blood pressure.
The next time you treat yourself to some peaches n’ cream, think of all the juicy health benefits you’ll get!