Is Corn a Fruit, Vegetable or Grain?

A never-ending argument that even extends to the US State senators is the one regarding corn. The argument begs the question: Is corn a grain, vegetable or a fruit? The state of New York would argue that corn is indeed a vegetable, even making it their state vegetable. Even with a title such as state vegetable, the question still persists, is corn really a vegetable?

Is Corn a Vegetable?

Speaking from a botanical point of view, corn is classified as a grain, not a vegetable. To delve further into this question, a quick look at the botanical technicalities of corn is required.

image001To identify the difference between a fruit and vegetable, the origin plant needs to be looked at. If the subject comes from the reproductive part of the plant, it is classified as a fruit, whereas were it from the vegetative part of the plant it would be a vegetable. Keeping those terms in mind, corn is a dry fruit, more commonly known as a grain.

Whether corn is a grain or vegetable, is an argument that will probably prevail, though contestants of that debate will never argue its popularity, and why would they? The Whole Grains Council and USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), properly describe why corn has accumulated so much popularity:

  • Corn is second to none in production in the entire world. In the US alone, cornfields occupy approximately 80 million acres of land.
  • From an international point of view, more than 20 percent of the world’s nutrition involves corn.
  • Most of the corn grown in the US is used to feed livestock and some pets too because of its low costs and profit margins.
  • Corn not only provides nutrition, its benefits branch out to non-food items like cosmetics, ethanol, medicine, fabrics, ink and glue.
  • Cooking oils, beverages, starch and food sweeteners are all byproducts of processed corn.

Is Corn Good or Bad for You?

After settling the "is corn a vegetable" dispute, here's something that matters more to you: 

Bad Effects of Corn

There is no doubt that corn is indeed a healthy vegetable, though it does fall short when compared with others. It is referred to as a starchy vegetable and is often categorized along with other starchy foods like pasta, as the nutritional value they offer are lower than the value offered by non-starchy vegetables. Potatoes, peas, sweet potatoes and beans are all classified along with corn as starchy vegetables.

The American Heart Association claim that starchy foods, in when compared to non-starchy foods are high in calories and carbohydrates, but low in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Fifteen grams is the average amount of carbohydrates in corn (according to the University of Illinois extension). Foods containing high amounts of carbs can increase blood sugar, meaning diabetic people should keep an eye on their ingestion of corn.

Benefits of Corn

  • Protein and Fat

The main function of proteins is to repair cells and build muscles. Sweet corn carries a small amount of protein (5 grams of protein in a one cup serving). Since the recommended amount of protein for a male body is 56 grams and for women its 46 grams, sweet corn is a popular side dish with steaks, chicken, lean beef or pork. Being low in fat, butter is added to sweet corn to increase its fat content.

  • Fiber

Fiber assists in stabilizing blood sugar levels, preventing constipation and curbing the effect of high cholesterol. Fiber is also advantageous for people trying to lose weight as it gives the feeling of being full long after ingestion. Sweet corn contains approximately 3.5 grams of fiber per cup –with the recommended daily dose being 30 grams (for men) and 20 grams (for women).

  • Potassium

Potassium is an important nutrient for the human body, required for heart function, muscle contraction and making bones stronger. The amount of potassium found in a cup of corn is roughly 330 milligrams – with 4.7 grams being the recommended dose per day, regardless of gender. To compensate for its lack of potassium, corn can be a side dish with beans or spinach to fulfill the recommended dose of potassium.

  • Vitamin A

Being and antioxidant, vitamin A is naturally quite important to the body, but its functionality does not stop there. Vitamin A is used by the human body to increase the strength of connective tissues and helps moistens the mucous membranes in the lungs. The recommended dose per day of vitamin A is 3000 international units (for men) and 2000 international units (for women), with sweet corn containing 310 international units per cup.

 
 
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