By Dr. Bryan Walsh

If you’re reading this article, chances are you already know the detrimental health effects of corn-based products, such as corn oil and high-fructose corn syrup.  But how about corn itself – should it be avoided as a food as well?

As a carbohydrate
Corn has a rating of about 50 (out of 100) on the glycemic index scale, meaning there are better and worse things than it when it comes to corn’s possible impact on glucose levels.As a proteinCorn is an incomplete protein, meaning it lacks certain essential amino acids that limit the usefulness of some of the other amino acids in it.

As a fat

Corn has a relatively high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which have been associated with increasing arachidonic acid, and thus inflammation in the body.

As a grain

If you are interested in increasing the carbohydrates in your diet, corn is not as viable an option as other grains.  (Remember, corn is a grain, not a vegetable.)

Let’s compare a 100g serving of corn to long-grain brown rice.

Corn (100g serving) Long-grain Brown Rice (100g serving)
Carbohydrate 74g 24g
Dietary fiber 7g 2g
Protein 9g 2g
Fat 5g 1g
Omega-3 65mg 13.0mg
Omega-6 2,097mg 283mg
Vitamin B1 .4mg .1mg
Vitamin B6 .6mg .1mg
Magnesium 127mg 44mg
Zinc 2.2mg .6mg
Manganese .5mg 1.1mg

While yes, in general, corn has more fiber and certain nutrients than rice, it also brings with it quite a bit more carbohydrates and omega-6 fatty acids.

Corn and Fungus

In the agricultural industry, corn are well known for their risk of contamination with mycotoxins, which are toxic byproducts produced by various strains of mold and fungus.

Many of these mycotoxins have been shown to have negative physiological consequences in animals consuming contaminated corn, such as liver cancer, though no human trials have yet to show a similar connection.

Obviously another issue of contaminated food will be the necessity to use chemical fungicides, many of which likely have a negative impact on human health.

Is Corn Inflammatory?

By its definition, an inflammatory food will cause inflammation in 100% of people that eat it.  So no, I don’t believe there are any studies suggesting corn.

However in certain populations of people like those with the autoimmune condition rheumatoid arthritis, corn is one of the most reactive and inflammatory foods.

This obviously does not necessarily relate to the rest of us, but it is something to keep in mind.

The Bottom Line

So is corn good or is it bad?  If you’re eating mostly processed food, you are probably eating far too much corn whether you realize it or not, and I would say this is less than desirable.

It’s been suggested that approximately 45,000 food items found in the average supermarket contain corn as an ingredient.

And when one considers the health impacts of livestock eating a corn-based diet, I think corn is best avoided

On the other hand, if you are eating primarily a whole-food diet, an ear of corn now and again probably won’t kill you.

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Mark Dilworth, BA, PES
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Lifestyle and Weight Management Specialist
Certified Nutrition Coach and Nutrition for Metabolic Health Specialist. Since 2006, I have helped thousands of clients and readers make lifestyle habit changes that helps you to achieve better long-term health, which includes body transformation and ideal body weight.
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