Corn (Zea Mays) is technically a grain, not vegetable. Corn is a member of the Poaceae (Grass) Family. The genus name, zea is from the Greek, meaning grain. The word corn throughout history has meant a grain sized lump. In England, corn means wheat and in Ireland and Scotland, means oats, maize refers to corn.

Corn was cultivated in The Americas long before white settlers arrived and was hybridized originally from a wild grass called teosinte. Early corn ears were from one half to two inches long. The Incas, Mayans and Aztecs used corn as currency, jewelry and building material. Hopis offered cornmeal in rituals. The Corn Mother was worshipped as a deity in pre-Columbian times as a symbol of fertility, eternity and resurrection. Corn is said to be governed by the Sun, the element of Fire and symbolize Protection and Spirituality. The yellow corn is said to symbolize the North, white the East, red, the South and blue the West.

Corn is a neutral, sweet tonic food and is appropriate eaten in summer, as it is more cooling than other grains. It helps dry damp mucusy conditions in the body. Corn is easy to digest, benefits the stomach, heart and large intestines. It is also a bone, blood and muscle builder, and a sexual tonic. It also has antiviral, diuretic and mild stimulating properties. Corn increases estrogen levels and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Corn benefits constipation and emaciation. In some parts of Mexico, corn is used to treat dysentery.

A survey of 47 countries showed that there were lower rates of dental cavities where corn was consumed over countries that used more wheat or rice. It contains protease inhibitors, which according to lab studies, inhibits cancer.

One medium ear of corn contains about 75 calories. Corn is rich in beta-carotene, vitamins B, C, folic acid, E, and the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. It is an excellent source of fiber and essential fatty acids. Yellow corn is more nutritious than white.

Most of the corn produced in America (about 75-90%) goes to feeding livestock and is called field or dent corn.

There are many ways to enjoy corn. It can be eaten raw off the cob, added to soups and salads. Corn will always taste the best if left in the husk until right before use. Look for fresh green husks and plump, milky filled kernels.

Corn has large industries based on its versatility such as cornflakes, corn syrup, cornstarch, grits, posole, corn oil and the popcorn. There are people allergic to corn, including cornstarch, cornmeal and corn syrup and its consumption can cause rash, breathing difficulty, headache, migraine, arthritis, and intestinal troubles. It is also a likely food to be genetically altered.

Corn has even industrial uses in the form of being made into paint, plastics and paper. Corn byproducts might even show up in crayons, batteries, paint and cosmetics. Even the corn silks have a long history of use as a medicine. They are made into a tea to treat bladder infections, bedwetting, prostate inflammation and uric acid buildup. Cornsilk was part of Native smoking mixtures.

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Written by Brigitte Mars

Explore Wellness in 2021