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Sharp Health News

5 a-maize-ing facts about corn (infographic)

Oct. 14, 2015

Corn is one of nature's most versatile foods. It can be a vegetable or a grain, it feeds both humans and animals, and it offers endless recipe options. Get to know more about this humble food with Erika Killian, a registered dietitian at Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center.

5 a-maize-ing facts about corn (infographic). First harvested more than 8,000 years ago by the indigenous people of the Americas, corn quickly became a staple of the Western diet due to its versatility. You can boil it, grill it, steam it or grind it. It goes well in salads, as a stand-alone side or in a condiment like salsa. Heat dry kernels until they burst and you have the perfect movie time treat. According to botanists, corn is a fruit. A member of the Poaceae family, corn is a caryopsis – or dried fruit – like rice and wheat. It may be sweet, but the typical cob of corn has fewer than 8 grams of sugar – less than bananas, apples or grapes. Cooking sweet corn boosts the release of antioxidants, which help prevent heart disease and cancer. Corn is also high in vitamin B-6 and magnesium, which are important for blood pressure regulation and bone health. A good source of fiber, corn is great for bowel regularity. However, the fiber is insoluble, which explains why kernels emerge from your digestive system intact. Three healthy ways to prepare corn on the cob. Microwave it. Microwaving corn is better than boiling, which can reduce the level of nutrients. Leave the husks on and cook the corn on high for 3 to 5 minutes. Grill it. Grill corn (with husks on or removed) in foil or alone on the grill for approximately 15 minutes. No salt or butter is needed; the heat brings out its sweet flavor. Steam it. Place shucked cobs in a closed steamer over boiling water for 15 minutes. Eat straight off the cob or remove the corn with a knife and add it to your favorite dish. Corn is high in vitamins, minerals, fiber in antioxidants, and can easily be part of a healthy diet, says Erika Killian, a registered dietitian at Sharp. Be mindful when using products derived from corn, like high fructose corn syrup. Corn kernels on or off the cob are what contain the nutrients.

View the printable version of this infographic.

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