Is corn a vegetable? Find the answer to this intriguing question along with the health benefits and how to include it in your diet.
Corn is a staple for many people across the world, eaten in various forms. It is infamous as a side dish or a snack, or just an addition to soups and salads. People across the world crave corn a lot. But the question that might come to mind out of curiosity or when preparing a diet plan is whether is corn a vegetable or not. Keep reading this article to know whether or not corn is a vegetable and why you should consider consuming it.
Is corn a vegetable?
Corn is a vegetable, but it is also a fruit and a grain, depending on the form you consume it in. This might be a little confusing, but to understand how corn can be put in all three categories, it is first important to know the growing and harvesting procedure for corn.
How is Corn Harvested?
The growth stages of corn can be divided into two categories, the vegetative stages, and the reproductive stages. Till the time the plant starts to emerge to when the tassels are formed, it is known as the vegetative stage. The number of leaves that grow depends on the environment, type of seed used, etc.
After that, the reproductive stage starts. As the silk (the silk threads on a cob of corn) starts to appear, the corn is pollinated to form kernels on the cob. These kernels go through 5 more stages changing from white to yellow in colour and then eventually losing most of their moisture and drying out. This whole process, until maturity is attained, lasts for about 45 days. Corn is harvested in these different reproductive stages as a cob, when the corn has a higher moisture content, or as kernels when they are dry and towards the end of their life cycle.
Why is Corn a Vegetable, Fruit, and Grain?
In very generic terms, harvesting of vegetables is done from the leaves, stem, or other parts of the plants. Hence, corn is a vegetable because it is part of the leaves and stem. Fresh corn is infamous as a starchy vegetable.
Fruits are harvested from the seeds or the flower part of the plant. The corn kernels fit this description because they are part of the pollination process and are used as seeds for growing.
Now a whole grain is something which contains all three of their parts—the germ, the endosperm, and the bran. Kernels harvested from when corn is fully mature and dry are considered as grains because it has all three parts intact.
Benefits of Eating Corn
Corn, whether consumed as a vegetable or a whole grain, comes with an abundance of nutrients.
1. Prevents Constipation
The high fiber content of corn can help in improving digestion and prevent constipation. A cup of corn can cover up to 20% of the daily recommended fiber content.
2. Manage Blood Sugar Levels
Eating whole grain corn can decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes and can regulate the absorption and release of insulin in the body.
3. Improves Eye Health
Corn is a rich source of beta-carotene, which can help in improving Vitamin A levels in the body and thus promote good vision.
4. Protects Heart
Corn oil can be used to get rid of bad cholesterol and improve heart health. Use it for cooking to reduce the absorption of cholesterol in the body.
5. Overall Health
Corn is rich in antioxidants and provides a lot of minerals such as zinc, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, which are essential for overall health.
6. High in Protein
Corn is an essential component of a vegetarian diet because it is high in protein. Protein is important for growth and development and is a vital part of a balanced diet.
How to Include Corn in Daily Diet
One can eat corn in various forms, some of which are:
- You can add corn to your salads and soups. Besides giving immense health benefits, it adds a tasty crunch to various food items.
- Corn on the cob is a very popular side dish that many people prefer in their daily diet.
- Use the kernel of corn to treat yourself with a bucket of popcorn while watching a movie or when you crave something for an evening snack.
- You can also use corn to purpose homemade flour for tortillas or bread.
- To reduce cholesterol in your home-cooked food items, you can use corn oil.
- You can steam corn and it is as a vegetable.
- It is important to chew corn properly because the body has a little difficulty in breaking it down. Try to consume them boiled/steamed, so they are soft and easy to digest.
- It is a starchy vegetable and is rich in carbohydrates, so precaution should be taken by people with diabetes on how much they are consuming this vegetable.
Now that you know corn is a vegetable and the multiple benefits it has to offer, it’s never too late to consume this fiber rich food for a healthy body! Let us know your thoughts, suggestions, or queries in the comments section.