Healthy eating is very important to me and I like to think that I do a good job of ensuring my day is filled with lots of healthy foods; after all, as the editor of a food and nutrition web site, I like to set a good example. At work, I’m famous for my healthy lunches: I like to make really big, healthy salads filled with tons of vegetables. My typical salads include a base of lettuce, tomatoes, spinach, onions, peppers, corn, and then some additional ingredients, like chickpeas, kale, tuna, or chicken.
And every day after I finish eating my healthy salad, I give myself an imaginary (or sometimes very real) pat on the back. I feel good about myself when I eat healthy foods, and I never imagined that the very core of my healthy eating—healthy salads—actually contained one ingredient that was ruining my health!
Which of my favorite “healthy” ingredients is ruining my “healthy” salad? Apparently, my daily dose of peaches and cream corn is actually very far from healthy!
I’ve always loved corn because it’s a vegetable that happens to taste just as sweet as any candy I’ve had, plus I love adding some yellow color to my mostly green salads. But after my friend Laura Foreman, an anti-aging life coach at Agein.com, mentioned to me that my salads really are healthy, except for my favorite corn, I decided to do some digging.
It turns out she was right. Corn contains a healthy amount of fiber, which helps prevent constipation and ensures your body functions properly. Most dietary fibers, found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes, to name a few, are not able to be digested by the body. Instead of being broken down by your body’s internal processing system, it is transferred straight through your body until it’s out.
Your body needs fiber to ensure proper bowel movements, help regulate your blood sugar levels—fiber can slow the absorption of sugar—and it can help you with your weight loss goals, as fiber-rich foods require you to chew for longer, so your brain has time to signal that you’re no longer hungry before reaching for the next plate.
However, corn also contains cellulose, a type of fiber that we mere humans can’t break down properly because we don’t have the right enzyme for it. In fact, Health.com rated corn as one of the WORST foods for digestion!
So how can you enjoy your corn without worrying about it wrecking some digestion havoc? Your body will be able to better digest corn if you chew it for longer; if you’re adding pieces of corn to your salad, then you’re probably not spending much time chewing it down.
If you want to keep corn on your list of healthy foods, then chewing it well is a must. If you don’t, it will go through your body completely undigested, causing you stomach pains, gas, and bowel discomforts.
There’s no need to cut corn out of your diet just yet. If you are prone to stomach problems, then definitely strike corn off your list of healthy foods. But if you’re not as sensitive, then just make sure you’re chewing corn properly before it goes through your body and you can continue keeping this food as part of your healthy eating plan.
“14 best and worst foods for digestion,” Health.com web site; http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20551987_9,00.html, last accessed October 21, 2013.
“Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet,” Mayo Clinic web site; http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fiber/NU00033, last accessed October 21, 2013.
St. John, T.M., “Why Does The Human Body Not Digest Corn?” Livestrong web site, October 12, 2013; http://www.livestrong.com/article/477602-why-does-the-human-body-not-digest-corn/.