4 Health Benefits of Corn

It's got all the perks of whole grains and more.

Many people are confused by corn: Is it a vegetable or a carb? And is corn good for you? Technically, corn is a member of the whole grain family. And yes, corn can be very good for you. Corn is naturally gluten-free, making it a good alternative to wheat for those who must avoid gluten. 

Here are four more unique health benefits of corn.

Lowers Risk of Disease

As a whole grain, corn is in a health-protective food category. Research has found that consuming whole grains helps lower the risk of heart disease, colorectal cancer, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.

There are different ways to get the whole-grain benefits of corn. Whole-grain corn sources include:

  • Tortillas made with whole-grain corn or whole cornmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Whole cornmeal
  • Whole grits
  • Whole kernels (fresh, frozen, or canned)

Still, of course, portion size matters. Choose portions that align with your body's needs and activity level. Adults aged 19–59 should eat between three to five ounces of whole grains daily, depending on the number of calories eaten daily. In comparison, adults aged 60 and older should eat three to 4.5 ounces daily.

Where should you start adding enough of these grains into your diet? For example, three cups of popcorn, one small piece of cornbread, and one six-inch corn tortilla each provide one ounce of grains.

Full of Key Nutrients

Corn can help keep your body healthy by giving it the nutrients it needs. Corn contains a variety of vitamins and minerals that are helpful for many body processes and functioning.

For example, yellow corn and sweet corn specifically can be good sources of pro-vitamin A, a substance that your body can convert into vitamin A.

Vitamin A is important to the body for a few reasons, which include:

  • Supporting the immune system
  • Helping form mucus membranes, healthy teeth, and skeletal and soft tissue
  • Promoting good eyesight

Also, corn has potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure, heart function, and muscle contractions.

Provides Protective Antioxidants

Lutein and zeaxanthin, corn's main carotenoids (or pigments), are antioxidants that help protect your eyes. Research has shown that those carotenoids can reduce the risk of eye problems.

Also, some evidence suggests that colorful corn—in colors other than yellow—includes antioxidants. For example, blue corn is a good source of antioxidant compounds.

And purple corn has traces of another antioxidant, quercetin. Quercetin helps reduce inflammation and protects against memory-related illnesses like Alzheimer's disease.

Research has also linked quercetin to increased apoptosis. Apoptosis is how the body kills cells that don't work properly, which prevents damaged cells from becoming cancer.

Aids in Digestion

Corn can give you a good dose of insoluble fiber. Your body doesn't break down the insoluble fiber in the cell walls of plants. So, insoluble fiber increases stool bulk, helping push waste through your system.

Also, consuming more dietary fiber may aid weight loss. Corn's fiber content may also help support healthy body weight by boosting the feeling of post-meal fullness.

Is Corn Genetically Modified?

Over 90% of corn in the United States is genetically modified (GMO). The vast majority of corn grown in the United States is for animal feed and other food and industrial products.

So, if you're buying bagged frozen corn, you can avoid GMOs by looking for "USDA Certified Organic" on the label.

Also, a small ear of corn is low in fat (about one gram) and sugar (about five grams). However, consume high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) or corn oil in moderation. Research has found that HFCS may be linked to increased body fat, especially belly fat, and triglycerides.

Corn oil is also high in omega-6 fatty acids, which are important for overall health and cell function. However, too many omega-6 fatty acids may harm heart and blood vessel cells.

How To Add Corn to Your Diet

There are several ways to make corn part of your diet in a meal, a snack, or a dessert.

Fresh Corn

To grill fresh corn on the cob, follow these steps:

  1. Pull down but don't remove the outer husks, and pull off the silk.
  2. Fold the husks back into place and soak the corn in a tub of cold, salted water.
  3. Remove, shake off the excess water, and grill for 15–20 minutes, turning about every five minutes.
  4. Drizzle with dairy-free pesto or seasoned tahini.

Frozen Corn

If you don't have fresh corn on hand, you can use frozen organic corn in many ways. For example, you can thaw frozen corn in the fridge. Or add frozen corn to the following:

  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Veggie chili
  • Salsa
  • Stir-fries

You could toss thawed frozen corn with avocado oil, sea salt, and chipotle seasoning, then oven-roast it.


Surprisingly, corn can be good when included in sweet treats like:

  • Ice cream
  • Pudding made with coconut milk
  • Sweet corn cakes


Remember that popcorn counts, too. Buy organic kernels and pop them yourself on the stovetop in avocado oil. Serve your popcorn savory with black pepper, turmeric, and sea salt. Or try sweet, drizzled with melted dark chocolate and cinnamon.

A Quick Review

Corn may offer many health benefits. Corn, which is a whole grain and naturally gluten-free, can also provide different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Corn can also help with digestion.

Even though there are corn byproducts to avoid or consume in moderation, like HFCS, you can benefit from adding other fresh or frozen corn to your diet. 

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Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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