If you’re currently sat around a table, having a debate with family or friends over the question – is corn a vegetable – don’t panic, you’re definitely not the only one. This is an age-old debate that has even gone as far as the United Stated senator, and it states that everyone, everywhere has a slightly different opinion. It certainly makes answering the question a lot more difficult.
To be fair, when looking at things from a botanical point of view, the humble corn is NOT a vegetable. It is, in fact, a grain. The anatomy of the food source comes into question when looking into what category it falls in to – vegetable or fruit, for example. If the food source itself comes from the reproductive anatomy of the plant, it is considered to be a fruit … A little like the fruit of the loins. If the food source comes form the actual vegetable part of the plant, the leaves or stalk, for example, it would be classed as just that – a vegetable.
Corn comes from the reproductive part of the plant, but it is classed to be a “dry fruit”, and this is what makes it a grain. So, technically, corn is neither a fruit or a vegetable, but a grain. Which, by proxy, almost makes it a fruit.
Whether you agree with the argument or not, you can’t deny that corn is a vital part of our diet these days. It’s definitely not a food you should be taking for granted, especially when you see some of the following statements made by the Whole Grains Council and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture):
- Over 80 million acres of land across the United States of America are dedicated to growing corn.
- Over twenty percent of the world’s entire nutrition consists of corn-based products.
- There are high profit margins and low costs associated with using grains in the practice of feeding livestock and pets, and because of this, most of the United States-grown corn is actually used for these purposes.
- A lot of stuff comes from corn, and it’s not all food. You will find corn-based products in so many items around the home, and these will include beauty and cosmetic products, glue and ink, fabrics, medicines, and more.
- Corn can also be heavily processed to make it into other products. Many of these you will, again, find in your home, and include items such as food sweeteners, starch, cooking oils, and even some drinks.
There are both good and bad things to be said about the humble food source that is corn, which we have now established is a grain. It’s a healthy vegetable, and you can’t really deny that, but when compared to other foods of the same nature, the nutritional value isn’t really up to scratch. Starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, peas, beans and potatoes offer a higher nutritional value than non-starchy vegetables, and corn comes into the latter bracket, alongside pasta.
The food has been labelled as good for you by The American Heart Association, but they have made claims that the mineral, vitamin, and fiber content of corn is very low when compared to others, despite being high in carbohydrates. Sadly, corn is also high calories which isn’t great for those watching their weight.
If you are diabetic, eating a large amount of corn can be detrimental to your health. A diet rich in corn and other carbohydrates can cause a spike in blood sugar levels, and this can be dangerous for those suffering from the condition.
It’s not all bad news though, and there are some benefits of eating a corn-rich diet:
Sweetcorn contains 5 grams of protein per one cup, and protein is what feeds your cells – the building blocks of life. For the record, the average daily amount of protein you should be eating is 46 grams for women, and 56 grams for men. This is based on the average healthy adult male and female. Sweetcorn would help to boost your protein intake, without increasing your fat intake too much. This food is low in fat.
You need 30 grams of fiber per day if you are a man, and if you are a woman, it’s 20 grams. For every one cup of sweetcorn you eat, you’re consuming about 3.5 grams of finer, and it is this that helps your digestive system to run smoothly. If you do not get enough fiber in your diet, you are likely to suffer with a number of bowel conditions, primarily constipation. You may also experience diahhrea and possibly even vomiting as a long-term result of this.
You should be aiming for just under 5 grams of potassium per day, regardless of whether you are male or female. To get to your 4.7 gram total, sweetcorn can help, providing 330 milligrams per cup of the yellow stuff. In order to boost this value, add your sweetcorn with other potassium-rich foods such as spinach, or even beans.
Vitamin A is good for the body because it is an antioxidant, and it is these that help to prevent awful diseases such as cancer. That’s not all the vitamin does though, and science has proven that the vitamin can help to improve the membrane, and therefore the function, of the lungs. Tissues that are connective are also strengthened with vitamin A, and you will find 310 international units of your 2000/3000 female / male RDA in one cup of sweetcorn.
So, now you know the answer to the question – is corn a vegetable? No, it is not. It is a grain, and although grains are very good for your health, they can be bad for your health when not eaten the right way, or with the right other stuff. Know the foods you are eating, and what they are contributing to your body, and you’ll have much better luck at eating healthy and getting that body you’ve always wanted.