Let’s Begin with a little history lesson of corn …
It took seven thousand years to transform teosinte (our wild ancestor corn) into our modern corn which contains ultra-sweet kernels. The transformation involved several spontaneous mutations, hundreds of generations of human selection, and now, genetic mutations.
Due to these changes our modern- day corn differs from our ancestor corn (teosinte) more than any other edible plant. Our modern-day corn can contain up to forty percent sugar, bringing new meaning to the word, candy corn.
Another concern is that modern corn contains less phytonutrients than varieties developed by our early day farmers. Blue corn on the other hand contains a high amount of anthocyanins which in return, gives us thirty times more antioxidants then our modern white corn.
A compound called cyanidin-3-glucose (CG3), which is found in blue corn has multiple health benefits. This compound is involved with slowing the growth of colon cancer, lowering blood and cholesterol levels, and can reduce weight gain caused by a high fat diet. Neither white or yellow modern corn has any anthocyanins and no CG3.
There is a drink only sold in certain health food stores called chicha morada. This is a beverage made from purple corn, pineapple skins, and cinnamon. This drink offers more resveratrol than red wine and more anthocyanins than most blueberries.
Resveratrol is a phytonutrient that is known to reduce inflammation, thin the blood, and inhibit tumor cell growth. Each bottle will be around ten dollars, but make sure you read the label for any added sugar. Traditional chica morada contains zero added sugar.
How to Choose the Most Nutritious Corn on the Market
You won’t see red, purple, or blue corn on super market shelves, but you can choose the ears with the deepest yellow kernels. The dark yellow kernels can contain up to fifty-eight times more beta-carotene and compounds of lutein and zeaxanthin more than white corn. The compounds lutein and zeaxanthin are reducers for developing macular degeneration and cataracts, which are two common eye diseases.
Regular sweet corn has relatively low levels of pesticide residuals, but, super sweet corn is another matter. Most consumers want their corn to be sweet, tender, and flawless. In order for a corn kernels to be “flawless”, farmers are needing to use chemical sprays more often on their crops. Farmers will spray insecticides as many as twenty-five to forty times per season.
This extensive use of synthetic insecticides is concerning for the worker, the consumer, as well as the environment. If you buy organic corn, you can eliminate these problems.
There are more phytonutrients found in organically raised corn compared to conventionally raised corn. It is recommended going to your local farmers market to purchase your corn on the cob. Here you will find heirloom varieties of yellow corn which are free from genetic manipulation and pesticides. When you’re shopping at your local famers market, the vendors can tell you the varieties of corn they sell.
The Best Ways to Cook Corn
The most common way to cook corn would be rip off the husks, strip of the silk (hair on cob), and submerge the naked ears into a big pot of boiling hot water. This has to stop. Boiling corn causes you to lose most of its nutrients into the water. A better way to cook your corn is to steam, microwave, or grill.
If you microwave the corn in its husks, no water can come in contact with its kernels, which in return causes the kernels to retain its nutrients. To prepare your corn for microwaving, first you want to separate the hair like strands (silks) that form on the outside of the husks. The reason for this is to avoid burning in the microwave. Try not to open or cut into the husks themselves either, just leave them be.
You don’t need to place your prepared corn in a microwave safe plate, you can just arrange the corn evenly in your microwave and cook on high. Each microwave has a different watt ranges, so cooking times will vary. As a general guide, allow three to four minutes for a single ear of corn, five to six minutes for two, and an added one or two minutes for more.
To check if your corn is ready to eat, carefully peel back the top portion of the husk of one ear of the corn. If it’s not ready, close the husk and place in microwave for another minute or two. Once fully cooked, let your corn on the cobs cool down for at least five minutes with the husks still attached. You can dress it up with olive oil, salt, pepper, or whatever spice you like and enjoy.
Another way to cook corn on the cob is to grill them. First you want to cut off the hair like strands (silks) that stick out of the husks otherwise they will burn. After doing so, grill the corn in its husks for about five minutes, making sure that you turn them over several times. Grill on medium-low for best results.
After five minutes, remove the husks and silks and place the naked ears back onto the grill. Keep turning your corn until its lightly grilled on all sides. Once ready, either eat them plain or add some olive oil, salt and pepper. You can even spice it up by adding lime juice, chili powder or hot sauce. Dress it up.
As a nation, we consume more cornmeal, tortillas, tortilla chips, grits and polenta more than we eat fresh corn. Most products are made from yellow or white field corn. Essentially the corn is dried, ground, and refined. You may see the label reading, “Dehulled and degermed to reduce susceptibility to rancidity.”
What this means is that by degerming the corn, manufactures remove the vitamin E component and dehulling removes the fiber and antioxidant components. Both of these processes significantly lose the flavoring and nutrient contents. Although it’s difficult to find colorful corn on the cob in markets, finding colorful cornmeal is easier.
Choose whole-grain yellow cornmeal whenever possible. This way, you will be retaining more fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, antioxidants, choline, and betaine (phytonutrient). Due to whole-grain retaining the germ, it can become rancid more quickly than refined cornmeal. So, make sure you use before expiration date.
Colorful cornmeal made from blue, red, or purple corn will provide many more bio-nutrients than white or yellow cornmeal. If you find prepared mixes with any of these colorful corns, try them out.
You can find blue cornmeal pancakes, waffles, muffins and tortilla chips in many supermarkets. But, try to always read the ingredient list first. It’s a practice, but this habit will be beneficial.
Try This: It is prepared with blue cornmeal. You can also try making it with whole-grain yellow cornmeal as well.
Prep: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 35-45 minutes
What You Will Need:
- 8 x 8 glass baking pan
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 small mixing bowl
- 1 whisk (or fork)
- 1 cup blue whole-grain cornmeal
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (preferably unbleached)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon pink sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup honey
- 2/3 cup low-fat or whole milk
- 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
- 2/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
- Preheat your over to 425O F
- Grease your square baking pan (not too much)
- Combine all of your dry ingredients into your large mixing bowl and mix well
- Combine the remaining ingredients into your small mixing bowl and whisk thoroughly.
- Pour your liquid ingredients onto your dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl. Stir until combined
- Pour the batter into the prepared greased pan.
- Place on the middle rack in the oven
- Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown. (Toothpick/fork test)
- Cool slightly and cut into 6 to 8 squares.
This recipe is great for any family dinner or potluck outing. Only breadcrumbs will be left.
Canned and Frozen Corn
It is assumed that canned corn contains less nutrients than buying the whole cob. Of-course the taste will be incomparable, but it can be as good or even better nutritiously.
Canned corn is higher in carotenoids than fresh corn. Carotenoids are antioxidants with strong cancer-fighting properties and are responsible for the pigmentation of yellow, orange, and red colors of our fruits and veggies.
If you’re in a rush at the store, grab a can of yellow corn. In the past, producers have added more sugars to the canned corn to appeal to the consumer. The corn in itself is already sweet, so by adding more is unnecessary.
You may find corn labels saying, “No sugar added.” Consumers read this, and automatically think it’s healthier, but the difference is that the sugar is in the corn and not in the liquid. If you drain out the liquid, you’ll still get the same amount of sugar as in a regular can of corn.
Frozen yellow corn has the same amount of nutritional value as fresh wholesome yellow corn on the cob. To retain the nutrients, steam your frozen corn without thawing the bag first. Don’t ever boil your corn because you will lose all water-soluble nutrients into the water.
Points to Remember About Corn