Just like peanuts are legumes and not nuts, corn is a grain, not a vegetable.
But (whole)grains are good for me aren’t they?
No. The truth is that we’ve been fed that lie to support industry. (Just like how the food pyramid was created by the agricultural industry!) Corn in particular, is the perfect industrial crop. According to Toby A.A. Heaps, author of The Killer Kernal, it has an abundant source of cheap interchangeable calories, and with a large amount of fertilizer, can be grown rapidly and predictably often on a one-person, one-machine farm enterprise.
Before I continue, let me get one thing straight. I’m not talking about the occasional corn on the cob at your family barbecue, but rather the reliance on corn as an every day food. Cornflakes for breakfast. Corn cakes and vegemite as your afternoon snack. Cornbread. Corn starch, a common gluten free substitution; often found in low-fat products. ANYTHING containing high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It’s simply not real food. All you are doing is jumping on the blood sugar-insulin roller coaster, which leads to chronic hunger, energy peaks and troughs, and the all-too-common 3.30-itis. Significantly, chronically elevated insulin levels are the enemy to sustainable weight loss, lean muscle mass development and weight maintenance.
Why corn is not part of my daily food pyramid
- Corn is a sugary, starchy, low-nutrient grain.
- While gluten is by far the worst culprit, grains can still be inflammatory and are high in phytic acid, substances that can inhibit nutrient absorption. The problem with high levels of phytate is mostly relevant when gut health is sub-optimal, and the overall nutrition is deficient in micronutrients and essential food sources. Something you will definitely need to consider if you have been following our traditional food pyramid.
- The over consumption of grains decreases the release of our major digestive and satiety hormone cholecystokinin, or CCK. This is known to be one of the major causes of insulin resistance, the precursor to obesity.
- There is not a single nutrient, vitamin or mineral present in grains that you cannot obtain from natural, wholefoods.
- Corn is used to fatten pigs, cows and other livestock, and is the key ingredient in HFCS, the leading cause of obesity in America. Enough said?
Is corn GMO?
Overseas, corn, otherwise known as maize, is genetically modified (GM) for greater resistance to pests and viruses, higher nutritional value and longer shelf life. In Australia, imported GM corn is predominately used as cattle feed and thankfully, has not been approved for farming. However, GM corn may have entered our market through imported foods like bread and cereals, corn chips, gravy mixes and sports drinks. Avoid these products like the plague.
On a positive note, before any of these products are sold in Australia, they are checked for safety by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). According to Australia’s Chief Scientist, the law in Australia requires that food labels must show if food has been GM, or contains GM ingredients, or whether GM additives or processing aids remain in the final food product. Please avoid GM foods, but that’s another story all together.
The moral of the story?
There are far better choices than corn. Focus on nutrient dense, real food. And if you do buy food products with a label, read them carefully.
Genetically Modified Foods. Food Standards Australia and New Zealand. Available: http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumerinformation/gmfoods/.
Genetically modified food explained. Australia’s Chief Scientist. Available: http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2011/11/genetically-modified-food-explained/.
Haros M, Bielecka M, Honke J, & Sanz Y. (2007). Myo-inositol hexakisphosphate degradation by Bifidobacterium infantis ATCC 15697. International Journal of Food Microbiology, 117(1), 76-84.
Heaps TAA. The Killer Kernal. Corporate Knights. Available: http://www.corporateknights.com/article/killer-kernel.
Thanks to Allergy Kids for the image.