Reader Q & A: Is Organic Corn OK?
Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
Last week, this reader question surfaced in our mailbag, and the simplicity of it struck me. The answer, however, isn’t quite so simple.
Q: Is organic corn OK?
A: Like so many aspects of nutrition, it depends.
Before I discuss the pros and cons of organic sweet corn, I want to take a step back and mention the state of nonorganic and GMO corn.
Unlike the corn grown for animal feed and corn syrup, GM sweet corn is relatively new to the market. It was introduced in 2012 and can be found in frozen and canned products as well as fresh in the produce aisle.
The GM variety has been genetically modified to resistant to Roundup, and it produces its own insecticide via gene splicing with the Bt toxin. (I wrote more about that here.)
GM sweet corn isn’t prevalent in the market, but it’s out there. And all non-organic corn is likely to have some pesticide residue on it, but sweet corn is actually number 49 of the Environmental Working Group’s guide to pesticides in produce. That means it is actually one of the least pesticide-laden food.
But in absence of a non-GMO label, the only way to know that the corn is not GM is to buy organic.
So, back to the question: is organic corn OK?
First, let’s look at the nutrient profile of this grain.
(Yep, it’s actually a grain, NOT a vegetable.)
One medium ear (about 7 inches long) contains about 80 calories, 17 grams of carbs, 2.4 grams of fiber, and 3 grams of protein. It’s also a decent source of vitamin C, providing 10% of the RDA, and contains B vitamins and some minerals like magnesium and manganese.
Yellow varieties also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two antioxidants that are important for eye health.
Some of the fiber in corn is insoluble, meaning it can’t be digested (by humans, anyway). Insoluble fiber does feed beneficial gut flora and helps add bulk to the stool, which keeps waste material flowing out of the colon.
So aside from a moderate amount of carbohydrates, organic sweet corn doesn’t appear all that bad. It is a real food, after all.
Except it is still a grain. And grains can be inflammatory.
Though I couldn’t find any studies showing that sweet corn specifically is inflammatory, I did find a myriad of articles written by doctors that state that corn can be allergenic and is best removed from the diet for people who are trying to reduce inflammation.
It appears that the proteins in corn are similar in shape to gluten proteins, and just like gluten, they can be irritating to the gut lining. This can provoke an immune response leading to localized or systemic inflammation.
Also, despite the fiber content, corn does have a higher glycemic index, meaning that it causes blood sugar to rise rapidly. And high blood sugar can be inflammatory as well.
The bottom line is that unless you have an autoimmune condition or elevated inflammation levels, an occasional ear of organic corn drenched in pastured butter is unlikely to cause much harm. But if you do suffer from inflammatory conditions, joint pain, or an autoimmune disease, I’d keep this and all other grains off your plate.
To eating well,
P.S. Have a health topic you’d like us to research? Let us know! firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do get a lot of inquiries, so if you’ve sent us a topic in the past and we haven’t addressed it yet, bear with us. We do try our best to get to all reader requests.
View More Free Articles
No one expects to develop a foot ulcer. That goes without saying. But if you have diabetes, the odds that you will are higher than you might expect. In fact, 60 percent of diabetics will develop neuropathy in their feet, eventually leading to one. However, poor glycemic control isn’t the only trigger for foot ulcers....
It’s only natural to avoid moving when you’re in pain. We’ve all been there, gritting our teeth and doing our best to remain still. After all, the last thing you want to do is make the pain WORSE. But this is one time when following your instincts could be a BIG mistake. It could take...
A stroll through the park or doing some gardening are enjoyable pastimes for many of us. Unfortunately, they’re ones we often don’t get to do nearly enough. But new research reveals why you should MAKE TIME for these nature-based hobbies. Because, it turns out, as you age your HEALTH could depend on it. Here’s why…...
Keeping your mind sharp as you age is a priority. If you’ve been following my suggestions, you may already be taking steps to protect your brain. And that’s fantastic! Things like taking certain supplements, walking regularly, prioritizing quality sleep, doing challenging crossword puzzles, and playing brain-stimulating games can INDEED support brain health and help head...
Before leaving on a trip recently my daughter was feeling a bit under the weather. She was worried she might be getting sick and asked how to recover more quickly from a cold. I explained that there’s still no cure for the common cold. But, certain foods and self-care practices CAN ease symptoms and shorten...
Is your heart trying to tell you something? Are little warning signs appearing that your ticker may be in trouble someday soon? You may have noticed your blood pressure creeping UP or your energy levels dialing DOWN. Or everyday tasks leave you feeling more winded than usual. Don’t ignore those signs. Your heart could be...
“My wife has had some dizziness when standing up quickly. Should she be concerned? A friend suggested it could be related to her blood pressure medication?” – Frank (Article continues below.) Hi Frank, Low blood pressure when standing after sitting or lying down is called orthostatic or postural hypotension. Typically, someone will feel dizzy or...
We all want to remain youthful, healthy, and vibrant as we age. But that’s easier said than done. Sure, you can fork over the cash for the latest designer anti-aging cream, drink gallons of raw water (whatever that is?), and try to survive on a diet consisting only of green veggies. But the answer to...
Bored to tears by repetitive trips to the gym? Rather walk across hot coals that try another one of the frantic routines presented by perky fitness gurus on TV? Do long walks on the treadmill feel about as thrilling as watching paint dry? New research reveals the answer to your workout prayers… Strap on your...
It’s a habit often hurled as an insult by movie bullies and internet trolls. Yet over HALF of us are “mouth breathers.” And, as I’m sure you already know, despite the insults, mouth breathing doesn’t have a thing to do with intelligence. But new research reveals it DOES have a downside. Mouth breathing could leave...