Food Fad: Cutting the Cord on Corn

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Just when you thought fruits and vegetables were safe from the food fad coverage, we read some recent articles by self-proclaimed nutrition expert Gwyneth Paltrow. Just in time for the New Year and resolutions that are tied to it, she has a new take on what a healthy diet means. Unfortunately, her opinions have consciously uncoupled from reality and shifted quite a bit from the summer of 2015 where she professed that her “food philosophy is: nothing should be ruled out. I don’t believe in saying ‘You’re not allowed that.’”  PUMP THE BREAKS. What?!

I remember reading that quote on that fateful balmy day in May, thinking, “Wow, she’s finally got it right! Welcome to the ‘all things in moderation’ mindset that consumers need to hear about.”

However, Cornfast forward about eight months, and we are back to her usual modus operandi. The once care-free and moderate-minded Paltrow has gone back to her “healthy roots” with her new “detox diet”. According to Ms. Paltrow, “The rules are straightforward, but a little rough (particularly when it comes to coffee and booze). No gluten, dairy, corn, soy, caffeine, alcohol, added sugar, red meat, shellfish, white rice, or nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, potatoes).”

As you can see, this list excludes quite a bit of foods. Since we have covered the health benefits of many of these foods including dairy, gluten, soy, red meat, and caffeine, when we saw that corn made it on the list of no-nos, it was the perfect opportunity to rebut and refute some of her suspect reasoning.

Corn is the most widely grown grain crop in America, with nearly half of its production used in the manufacturing of corn ethanol. Corn comes in many flavors and varieties. If fresh, corn is usually classified as a vegetable, and if dried (i.e., popcorn), it is usually considered a whole grain. Corn, whether it be fresh or dried, is a rich source of fiber and serves as a prebiotic in your gut to help promote digestive health.popcorn

Corn is also a rich source of carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These antioxidants not only contribute to corn’s beautiful yellow color but also provide a variety of health benefits such as eye health. The bioavailability of these antioxidants can vary according to the type of food (cereal, bread, or as whole corn). Think that processing corn decreases it’s availability of nutrients? Turns out, cooking and heating actually increases accessibility of these antioxidants.

Beyond fiber and antioxidants, corn is also a great source of B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate), iron, and selenium. B vitamins are crucial for cellular metabolism, iron is important to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, and selenium functions as an antioxidant to protect your cells from damage. Corn also provides protein, about 5 grams per cup to promote lean muscle and weight management.

Well, it seems that the rationale behind cutting out corn comes up short, and not too surprising, as the list of foods to avoid is quite long. Creating a list of foods to avoid is not a sensible long-term strategy for health and happiness. Instead, focus on foods that you enjoy and offer nutritional benefits like whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats and keep your splurges sensible.

If you follow this balanced advice, there will be no need for a no-no list.