Corn Can Help Protect Eyesight

Corn, or maize, originates from Mesoamerica and was an important aspect of their civilization.

The Native Americans utilized the health benefits of corn by serving it with the ash of limestone. They had observed that people who ingesting corn in this manner were healthier. The limestone ash helps liberate the niacin in corn that is otherwise not absorbed efficiently by the body. Today, the United States is the largest producer of corn, with China, Brazil, and Mexico other large producers.

Health Benefits of Corn

  • Nutrients
Corn is very good source of vitamin B1 (thiamine). It’s a good source of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamins C and E, folic acid, dietary fiber, essential fatty acids, and the minerals magnesium and phosphorus.

  • Glycemic Index (GI)
In a study to determine an estimation of the GI of various foods, it was concluded that sweet corn has a medium GI of 60.

  • Eyesight
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study suggests antioxidants may delay the advance of age-related macular degeneration. Yellow corn is rich in the carotenoid lutein, a phytochemical with antioxidant properties that can lower the risk of age related vision loss. Age related vision loss is caused by gradual oxidative damage of the retina, and lutein may serve as an antioxidant as well as a filter to protect the retina from the oxidative effect of blue light. Diets rich in lutein and zeaxanthin are also associated with a decreased prevalence of nuclear cataract.
While lutein and zeaxanthin content in yellow corn is not nearly as high as that in green leafy vegetables such as spinach (approximately 1/10th), yellow corn and corn products are one of the most popular foods in the Americas and other parts of the world. The less processed the product is, the more lutein rich it will be.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
A study has shown that moderately severe Alzheimer’s patients had much lower plasma levels of lutein and beta-carotene, compared to mild Alzheimer’s patients. These findings suggest increasing intake of lutein and beta-carotene rich foods to slow the rate of cognitive decline.

  • Cancer
Corn has a high beta – cryptoxanthin content, a carotenoid with antioxidant properties. An observational study in Singapore has shown that high levels of dietary beta-cryptoxanthin were associated with reduced risk of lung cancer.

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