Sweet corn appeared in the Indian market some two decades ago. As we were habituated to eat roasted corn, not much interest was shown to sweet corn. We were more attracted to the sweet smell of popcorn in theaters, at bus stands, railway stations and other public places than the humble, delicious taste of sweet corn. Surprisingly, it has become the favourite snack of every household these days and is recognised as one of the most healthy foods.
As the name suggests these corn are sweet because of high sugar content. Sweet corn is the result of naturally occurring recessive mutation in the gene which controls conversion of sugar to starch inside the endosperm of corn kernel. When left to dry on the plant and then roasted they don’t splatter like popcorn but expand to about double the original size of the kernel and are often called corn nuts. It is known as Indian corn, sugar corn and pole corn.
- Sweet corn contains all the essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein required by the body. They are a great source of anti-oxidants. The cooked sweet corn has more percentage of anti-oxidants than the fresh ones, much unlike other fruits and vegetables where anti-oxidants are reduced after cooking.
- Though they are sweet, the calories in sweet corn are much healthier as compared to other carbohydrates. They contain vitamin B-5, B-1, vitamin C, pholate, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, iron, copper, fiber and traces of many other minerals. The content of beta-carotene is high like that in carrots. They protect from respiratory problems and cancer.
- Those addicted to tobacco can reduce 37 per cent chances of getting cancer by eating sweet corn.
- Eating sweet corn increases memory power and intelligence in children. Thymine in vitamin B which is responsible for memory power is present in sweet corn.
- Sweet corn is also a good source of panthothenic acid available in vitamin B. This acid helps release energy to tackle stress and anxiety.
- Anti-oxidants in vitamin A in corns help protect the body against harmful free radicals. They also help keep the connective tissue strong and to moisten the mucous membranes in the lungs, throat and nose.
- Anti-oxidants lutein and zeaxanthin in corn play a critical role in maintaining normal vision. They act like natural sunglasses, helping to form macular pigment that filters out some of the sun’s damaging rays. The same anti-oxidants may help reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration. It is the leading cause of blindness in people over the age of 60.
- Sweet corn contains potassium, an electrolyte mineral lost commonly through sweat during long exercise bouts. It is useful in the functioning of heart, muscle contractions and bone health.
- There is a moderate amount of protein in sweet corn which is the second macronutrient the body needs in high amounts. It functions to repair cells build muscles and boost the immune system.
- The trivia corn cannot be fully digested by humans. Although it appears that corn passes through your gastrointestinal system undigested most of the internal nutrients are broken down and absorbed into your blood stream. The fibrous outer shell of corn kernels, however, does not break down due to lack of necessary digestive enzymes.
By Nibhanapudi Suguna