4 Reasons to Ditch Corn

The other day I was talking to a client telling them they could accelerate their fat loss efforts by eliminating certain foods from their nutritional plan.

And so I mentioned things like starchy carbohydrates (breads, potatoes, pasta, rice, cereals, grains), most drinks as well as food with corn.

But as soon as I mentioned the word ‘corn’ this client stopped me. ‘Really?’ they said. ‘I can’t eat corn? Why not?’ It’s a vegetable and it comes from the earth.

And herein lies the problem with some of the nutritional rules I have passed on to clients. Some are borrowed from others. Some are our own creations at Okanagan Peak Performance Inc. Now without going into the entire list here are couple of the rules:

* eat as many vegetables as you like

* foods from the ground, the ocean or a tree are good food for you

Just considering these two rules we would all probably agree that these two rules would lead you in the right direction regarding a nutritional choice. Because corn is a vegetable that comes from the ground.

So what’s the big deal with corn? Why is it on the list of foods to avoid?

I can see how this gets confusing. And the quick answer is to say there are exceptions to the rules. But that is kind of like a parent saying to a five year old ‘just because’ as part of suitable explanation.

Well you aren’t five years old and ‘just because’ won’t cut it. We need better reasons than that to cut corn from the program. So with that in mind here are 4 Reasons to Cut Corn From Your Nutritional Plan.

Reason #1 – Is It a Vegetable?

The first thing to consider when it comes to corn is that depending on who you ask or what resources you use it may be considered a vegetable or a grain. If you consider the designation of starchy versus non-starchy vegetable you could argue that corn could be a starchy vegetable like potatoes or peas.

On the other hand there are some that consider the stage of maturation at harvest. And depending when it was harvested this can alter the sugar and overall nutritional content of corn.

If we go with the opinion that it is a vegetable than we have to realize that vegetables offer most of their nutritional benefit when fresh and not loaded up with lots of butter and salt.

Reason #2 – Junk Food

In the previous reason I mentioned that corn can have a differing nutritional profile dependant on the stage of harvest. Add to this the level of subsequent processing and you lose even more of the nutritional benefits of corn.

For example, many people will eat popcorn as a healthy snack. As soon as corn is processed to this snack we lose much of the fibre, vitamin and mineral content that comes from fresh corn.

But a lot of other products contain corn as either a filler or a sweetner. For example, hamburgers, french fries, juices, pudding, soda and ketchup all contain corn. In fact the majority of products in your supermaket contain corn in some capacity. And none of these foods need to be a part of your plan.

Reason #3 – Link to Obesity

Corn is a new world food. It isn’t a staple of the recipes your European or Asian granparents used. No, instead it is something we consume more in North America than anywhere else in the world. As much as 1/3 of all corn produced is consumed by our neighbours to the South. So less than 5% of the world’s population eats 33% of the corn. Causation or correlation?

Here’s another way to think about it. If you were a pig farmer and wanted the cheapest, most effective way to fatten your pigs before they are slaughtered what would you use to fatten them?

Reason #4 – High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

This is a sweetener derived from corn that is used in a variety of products from soda to salad dressing to many baked goods. A quick search will let you see if your favourite foods are listed.

HFCS is a less expensive way to sweeten foods and thus we see it in so many supermarket items. Simply compare the rise in US obesity rates from when this product was brought to market to see its impact. Or another interesting comparison is to look at countries that have restrictions on its use or have banned it outright.

It’s not all bad though. There are some benefits to eating corn.

These include the fact that it has a low glycemic load. This means that eating an average serving of corn will result in a smaller and slower insulin release. This is a good thing. And corn is also a food that is fairly low in terms of its effect on the state of inflammation of our cells.

Additionally we also get some fibre, vitamin C, thiamin, folate, magnesium and phosphorus when we eat corn. Just remember you get the most of these nutrients when eaten raw. The more processed the food is the less nutrients it has, the more impact it has on blood sugar and the greater the inflammatory response will be.

So if this is your favourite food in the world and you love having some during your summer bbq then go for it. But pass on a bucket at the movies and bring water and nuts instead.





4 Responses to 4 Reasons to Ditch Corn

  1. Dov Schafer says:

    Besides, corn is hardly “natural” it is a genetic project to create the most sugar calories from a plant possible for the least cost. It is basically the same as eating grapes. There is no compelling reason to consume corn over any vegetable I can think of besides habit and tradition.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Dov. Good points. It’s no surprise corn is the major component of feed to fatten pigs and cattle.

      All the best,


  2. Mary says:

    The commenter above mentioned grapes as being similar to corn in low nutritional purpose, so to speak, in your diet… Is there a quick answer to that? Are they just more sugar than they are worth?

    • Chris says:

      Hi Mary: Grapes are an interesting topic. A number of supplements are based on nutrients that come from grapes including grape seed extract and resveratrol. So in addition to the vitamin and mineral content of grapes there are some compounds offering nutritional benefits. The main product derived from corn, HFCS, is of no benefit to your health.

      That being said grapes are quite high in sugar. If you do choose to eat them select fresh, red grapes.

      Hope this helps.


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