Friday, June 25, 2010

The Truth about Corn: The Grain Fooling the World

Corn is not a vegetable. It's a grain. That's something they teach you in elementary school, when you're first learning about the food pyramid. A lot of parents tell their children it is a vegetable, and that to grow big and strong they need to eat their corn. But they're wrong. Maybe parents have forgotten the fact, but I reiterate that corn is NOT a vegetable, it is a grain.

Also, corn has no nutritional value whatsoever. Absolutely none. Let's break this down for all of the parents out there trying to make their kids eat corn.

One cup of yellow corn (no butter, no sugar, no milk: just straight up) has 606 calories. That's a ridiculous amount of calories for something that's supposedly healthy, right? I eat, on average, 1500 calories a day. 606 calories? That's more than one third of what I take in, and corn is generally served as a side. That means that the whole meal would probably have around 1000 calories in it. Calories aren't bad, of course, if you're healthy and exercise regularly. Obesity in America is a problem though. Do you make your children play and exercise? Or do you plop them in front of the TV with a video game to keep them quiet?

Now, you can argue that one cup of yellow corn has 16 grams of protein, a few vitamins that we need, and only eight grams of fat. However, breaking that down, you know that on a 2000 calorie diet those eight grams add up to twelve percent of the daily amount suggested. And this was back when the food pyramid told us we need six to eleven servings of grains and breads a day. That's an awful lot of carbohydrates don't you think?

If you're going to sick with that argument, however, you should know something: all of those nutritional benefits, the protein and the vitamin A and the calcium and the iron, don't do you a damned bit of good. Why? Because the human body cannot digest corn. Dogs can't even digest corn. It literally runs right through you, in one end and out the other. It does not get broken down, their nutrients do not get absorbed into your body. You've seen the proof of this. You know that corn comes out, often whole, in excrement. You noticed it when you were a kid. Ever wonder about that? Now you know why.

So basically, when you're eating your cup of corn, you're downing 606 calories of absolutely nothing. It makes you feel full, like you've eaten something, but you're not getting anything out of it. Add butter and milk and sugar to make it taste better? You're adding about another 200 calories to that, and while the milk is good for you, its nutritional value is completely voided by the addition of the butter and sugar.

Now you're up to 806 calories for one cup of better tasting sweet corn. Not so appealing now, is it?

So if you're a kid, use the facts the next time your parents try to make you eat corn. And if you're a parent? Rethink your decision the next time you consider putting corn on your table. I personally never ate it as a child. My teacher taught me all about how corn couldn't be digested and therefore had no nutritional value, so it was an argument I loved dishing out because I hated the taste of that awful stuff.

Want a healthy alternative for your kids? Try celery. One stick of celery has less than five calories, it has Vitamins A and C, calcium, fiber, and iron. It has protein, no fat, and it takes more calories to chew a stick of celery than it actually has in the stick itself. It tastes good cooked or raw, and it doesn't have a flavor that clashes with most dishes and other sides. And most children will eat it. Afraid that they won't? Add a little peanut butter, and because it's so low on the calories the peanut butter won't mess with the nutritional value of the meal. Don't like peanut butter? Low fat cream cheese is a great option, too.

If you really want the best for you kid, then don't force them to eat corn. You're lying when you say it's good for them, and there are better alternatives out there, both in taste and nutrition. I know corn is a cheap food, and it's filling, but don't sacrifice health for money.

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