The Truth About Corn

by Kate Chynoweth
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The Truth About Corn

Once upon a time, nothing seemed more wholesome than fresh, sweet summer corn. Delicious, affordable and ubiquitous, it’s a crowd-pleaser that’s easy to prepare. Then came the low-carb revolution, and the notion that those delectable kernels are actually the devil in disguise. But now, the sentiment is starting to change as we realize corn doesn’t entirely deserve its bad rap.

There’s a lot to like about corn. To start, it doesn’t contain even a gram of sugar, and its carb count is lower than you might expect. For example, an ear of sweet corn contains just 10 grams of carbs. For perspective, a small apple has 17 grams, even though both clock in at about 60 calories. Corn is also rich in vitamin A, important for immunity, and it’s high in lutein, an antioxidant which builds healthy vision. With one gram of fiber per ear, it’s a better choice than the high-carb, zero-fiber starchy sides like the soft rolls it can easily replace.


Rumors swirl about whether corn is good for your health — or practically perilous (hello, Paleo). First, many claim corn is too high on the glycemic index, meaning it releases glucose rapidly into the bloodstream. But unless issues around glucose are a particular concern in your diet, don’t worry: Corn ranks lower on the glycemic index than brown rice or quinoa, so for most people eating a balanced diet, it’s hardly a problem food.

Second, there’s the idea that corn is “bad” for gut health — but there’s no proof in studies either way. (And, let’s face it, intestinal distress can originate from a lot of sources.) Devotees of clean eating worry it’s impossible to find corn untainted by GMOs: If this concerns you, buy certified organic corn.

Perhaps one reason for the negative pall over corn comes from its dastardly role in the industrial food chain. Factories turn the starchy veggie into corn syrup and compounds for processed foods that end up in everything from chicken nuggets to Ring Dings. But that has nothing to do with the benefits and joys of eating whole, fresh corn from a summer farm stand.


Healthy types will tell you there’s no need to slather corn in butter — that it tastes great without the extra fat. But for buttered-corn lovers, the only easy way to skip that caloric addition is to slice the kernels off the cob. This removes the temptation to add butter while yielding a versatile ingredient that adds flavor and texture to meals without a lot of carbs or calories.

Skip canned or frozen corn with lesser texture or flavor and boil your own, slicing the kernels off the cob after a quick boil; they can also be sliced off raw and quickly cooked in the microwave as needed. Cooked kernels keep well in the fridge for 3–5 days, so you can keep them handy at mealtime.

There are so many creative ways to work corn into all kinds of dishes. Add it to a plate of micro greens with crumbled cotija cheese, crunchy pumpkin seeds and lime dressing for a Mexican street corn-inspired salad; combine it with creamy avocado and ripe cherry tomatoes for a memorable side dish; or pack it alongside other healthy veggies and grains in a Buddha bowl. For an amazing brunch, fold fresh corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes and creamy goat cheese into softly scrambled eggs.  


So here’s an easy summer assignment: Boil up some fresh sweet ears of corn, skip the butter and  try using the kernels in new, creative ways while enjoying every single bite. Better yet, become a myth buster and remind everyone to enjoy this starchy veggie — without the side of guilt.


  • Chuck

    Sweet corn does have sugar and is most often times not genetically modifed.

  • What’s the weight on that average ear of corn that only has 10 grams carbs; I’m struggling on correctly logging it into My Fitness Pal. I would prefer to keep it on the cob and using a small amount of avocado oil, sea salt, and pepper. Thanks!

    • Catherine Mary

      I would weigh the whole cob, eat it, then weigh the leftover cob to work out the weight of the corn.

  • RevDrRon

    Of course you forgot to mention possibly the biggest reason corn has a “bad” reputation.

    Corn ranks high on lists of food products most likely to contain GMOs, or genetically modified organisms.

    Since 1996, corn has been genetically modified, and according to the USDA, 93 percent of the corn crops planted in the United States contained GMOs in 2014. But keep in mind that most of that corn is field corn, much of which will be fed to animals (which you eventually eat indirectly), although some may be made into corn-based products like cereal.

    In 2011, Monsanto introduced GMO sweet corn, but according to the Non-GMO Project (NGP), a couple of years later it looked as if farmers were not embracing the product. Citing a 2013 Friends of the Earth study that looked at 70 different sweet corn products, including canned and frozen products, the study found that only two of the corn products contained GMOs.

    “GMO sweet corn is genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant (Roundup Ready) and to produce its own insecticide (Bt Toxin). Like all GMOs, genetically modified sweet corn has not been thoroughly tested to ensure that it is safe for consumption,” NGP reported.

    “Monsanto’s genetically engineered sweet corn appears to be a big flop in the United States,” said Friends of the Earth’s Lisa Archer. “Companies here are starting to reject genetically engineered foods, and rightly so. They know their customers, particularly parents, are leery of unlabeled, poorly studied GMOs.”

    The same did not hold true in Canadian stores and roadside stands in 2013. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network examined 43 samples of “conventional fresh, sweet corn,” and found that 15, or about 35 percent, contained GMOs.

    NGP has created a program that allows companies to certify their project as being GMO-free. There are numerous corn products – everything from popcorn to corn syrup and corn flakes – that have taken advantage of that labeling to promote their products.

    • Vanessa McCoy Ryden

      Keep scrolling before before you decide to critique the author.
      She does mention it.

      • RevDrRon

        Yes she “mentions” it, but not as the main reason for corns “bad rap,” as I contend.

        • Susan Hamilton

          Wow some people can’t admit when they are wrong ‘RevDrRon’ just admit you jumped to conclusions after reading a few lines, and move on

    • “GMO sweet corn is genetically engineered to be herbicide resistant (Roundup Ready) and to produce its own insecticide (Bt Toxin). Like all GMOs, genetically modified sweet corn has not been thoroughly tested to ensure that it is safe for consumption,” NGP reported.

      Is this a recent report? I thought the debate over the safety of GMO foods was over after the National Academy of Sciences issued their report, stating that they “found no substantiated evidence that foods from GE crops were less safe than foods from non-GE crops.”

    • Jim

      That is a bullshit lie that GMO products are not tested. They are the food product with far and away the most testing and the only food product that requires any regulatory approval before going on sale.

      • RevDrRon

        Keep eating it Jimbo! I don’t give a $&!t about what Trump voters put into their mouths. I just want to have a label that tells me if they are in what I am eating. That so bad? If it is, then you are a Troll for Monsanto, wittingly or not.

        • Jim

          I am not a Trump voter there slick. Sorry I role on the side of science and not your Ron Paul Infowars conspiracy nonsense.

          • RevDrRon

            Show me the “science” not funded for the consumption of the ditto heads of Monsanto, Jimbo!

      • Missy Chrissy Lessy

        That’s why you idiot x-president hierd Monsanto top brass and Obama signed into law that no product gmo made by Monsanto can cause any cancer
        And that Monsanto canot be held responsible for any side effects
        Google this
        I’m not an American but most of your problems come from democrates … i can’t believe that you’re this blinded by all the BS around you
        You finally got a true patriot president
        But you democrates are going to screw things up
        Drain your swamp and start fresh

        • Russ CPA

          I wasn’t going to chime in on this topic but I must say “Bravo” Missy. You’re exactly right, we finally do have a President who is a leader and the Democrates brought this country to the brink of bankruptcy and caused most of our problems. Hillary is the most corrupt politician the world has ever seen and thank God she is finally marginalized. It’s like going back to 1925 and stopping Hitler. (Yes I went there).

  • Christopher John Howson

    Let’s not get confused with carbs and sugar here. Carbs are sugar. Let’s stop pretending the human body deals with carbohydrate molecules as a whole instead of breaking it down into it’s more manageable constituent parts: fructose, glucose etc.

    • Debbie

      There’s a big difference between the sugar naturally found in foods and added sugars, which are harmful no matter how you look at it. I was pre-diabetic and reversed in about seven months. I cut out processed foods, food with added sugar, and stuck to food with a low glycemic load. I eat protein with every meal and snack.

      • Christopher John Howson

        Same here. Feel miles better. Cut it all out about 2yrs back, it’s been a god send.

        And while I do agree that natural sugars and added sugars are different, your body still processes them in the same way.

        Glucose raises blood sugar and in turn insulin making adipose tissue grow larger contributing to metabolic syndrome.

        Fructose (fruit) is processed directly by the liver and aids liver fat cells in growing larger and contribute to non alcoholic fatty liver disease.

        But, we are all unique, and these things effect people differently.

        Unfortunately there’s no one size fits all solution. 🙁

  • Debbie

    What’s the glycemic LOAD of corn? The glycemic load of an apple is only 5, which is good. I never use the glycemic index; I use the glycemic index, which is far more accurate than index.

    • I’m confused. You “never use the glycemic index” but “use the glycemic index”. Error?

  • thespanishbandit

    grilled corn, rubbed lemon and few salt sprinkles, good!!!

  • Mark Carsten Anderson

    I buy quality sweet corn from local stores that carry organic foods and eat it raw off the cob. No heating the kitchen, a lot less mess, and the corn is absolutely fantastic. The taste is similar to other vegetables al dente. A lady at the store who represented the farm that grew it had small cups of cut corn to sample. Cooked corn is great but raw is superb as well.

  • Kay

    Do you know that you can microwave corn on the cob? Yep! Just put the whole corn on the cob with the husk in the microwave for about 3 minutes, carefully remove and let cool for a few minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove husk and silk, then enjoy eating it! Delicious!

    • Jacquiedmv

      Yep. Best way to eat corn! No need to add sugar, butter, or salt! I usually microwave for 4 minutes and let sit for one minute before cleaning and eating. So, I’ll try microwaving for 3 minutes to see if I like it better. Thanks for the tip.

  • Rebecca Rask

    Wow can we all just read the article and not jump to any political conclusions? Can we find things to agree on versus disagree and attack. Perhaps we can find we have more in common than not. Everything is about hate and attacking. I choose to read all comments and conclude on my own. Harmony in these times is distant when everyone has to be right. The article was a good source and it the only one I will read.



  • Susan Chester

    Hey GROW YOUR OWN then you can rule out any bad points you may have. I have had two bumper crops since I got my allotment over the past two years and I live on the brutal North East coast of England. It is the most delicious veg I have ever had. Raw microwaved boiled made into a soup you don’t need no butter it is so sweet as it is. I expected it to be high in sugar but after reading this and by using My Fitness Pal I see it is far from it. Hats off to Sweet Corn 🙂

  • Muck

    RevDrRon Wow what a hostile miserable person you must be. Please get some therapy, meds and lovin’ before you explode.