Corn has become the quintessential symbol of the harvest season. Almost everyone grew up hearing the story of Native Americans sharing their knowledge of corn with the pilgrims, leading to the fabled first Thanksgiving. The earliest use of corn in Central America dates as far back as 5,000 B.C.E. From there, corn was taken to China in approximately 1550, where it was able to grow in places rice was not. The availability of corn is a leading factor in the population boom the world saw in the 1700s.

Nutritional Highlights:

  • Although healthy, corn by itself is not considered a nutritionally complete food as the niacin (vitamin B3) found in corn is not able to be absorbed and can lead to the development of pellagra.
  • Corn is an adequate source of vitamins B1, B5, C, and E, as well as folic acid, magnesium and phosphorus.
  • It is also a good source of complex carbohydrates, essential fatty acids, and fiber.

Health Benefits:

  • Yellow corn is high in the carotenoid, lutein, and can help prevent heart disease and muscular degeneration.
  • Colored corn, such as pink, red, and black, are rich in various flavonoids and carotenes.

Corn is best eaten fresh as once picked the moisture is decreased, causing the corn to loose its sweetness. Over the years, corn has become an American staple, from corn on the cob to corn flakes, corn is present at almost every meal. Cornmeal is a great alternative to flour in things such as pancakes, crepes and muffins. Try adding corn to soups or even having polenta as a side during dinner. This Thanksgiving, remember the history and influence of corn in not only our nation, but in the world.

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