Is Corn Good for Diabetes? Here’s All You Need to Know
Can eating sweet corn raise your blood sugar levels? Here’s how you can learn to be smart with your carb intake.
Let’s be honest. Grilled sweet corn tastes like heaven because of its soft and buttery flavor. Not to mention popcorn, which is a favorite snack for many. However, there is a lot of controversy regarding the use of corn for wellness. Specifically, its carbohydrate content is the reason many people shy away from it. So, is corn good for diabetes? Can diabetics eat corn? Here, we’ll break some myths and set the record straight on corn and diabetes.
Rich nutritional benefits of eating corn
Sweet corn is a variety of maize and part of the grass family. This popularly available whole grain has high glycemic index i.e., greater sugar content (that’s why people believe it’s unhealthy to consume sweet corn!). Sweet corn is a mutation product of genes which converts sugar into starch. While they are rich in dietary fibres, they are also chock full of nutrients.
Sweet corn is eaten when they are immature. Of course, you can’t resist savoury corn soup and corn fritters! You can eat corn in a raw or cooked form. It contains a reasonable amount of insoluble to soluble fibre, which acts as a prebiotic for your gut.
The average size of yellow cooked corn comprises:
- 17.1 grams of carbohydrates
- 2.9 grams of protein and sugar
- 77 calories
- 2.4 grams of dietary fibre
- 1.1 grams of fats
Besides, sweet corn is also a rich source of vitamins like A, B, C, E, and K. They also contain minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. Its high folate content has anti-cancer properties as well.
Is corn diabetic friendly?
Studies show that corn has a wide range of phytochemicals, which help lower the risk of chronic diseases. In particular, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and even type 2 diabetes. Is corn good for diabetics or Is corn bad for diabetics? Let’s find out.
Contrary to popular belief, corn does not cause any unhealthy spike in your blood sugar levels. Besides, its rich nutrients will only benefit your health. Although starch is the key component of corn, it doesn’t affect your diabetes in any harmful way. And it can be a healthy addition to your diet in moderate quantities. Experts advise you to eat corn along with healthy fats and proteins.
So, does corn raise blood sugar in any way? Well, since sweet corn contains high sugar, it can elevate your blood sugar to a certain extent. But nothing crazy as long as you keep track of your daily carbs. Besides, your body gets minerals, vitamins, and dietary fibre as additional nutrients from eating corn. Expert dieticians suggest that corn for diabetics is alright as long as you monitor your serving portion.
Be smart with your carb intake
With diabetes, the carbs you eat play a crucial role. Your body breaks down these carbs into glucose, which is absorbed by the cells. When your blood sugar is too high (hyperglycaemia), extra glucose remains in your blood because of insufficient insulin or insulin resistance. Similarly, low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) can be caused by low carbs. To put it simply, you need a balance of carbs to manage your diabetes.
According to the American Diabetes Association, whole unprocessed foods work best for diabetes. You need to consume less saturated fats, sodium, and sugar. Also, adding more lean proteins to your diet like fish and chicken can be healthy.
Non-starchy vegetables like cucumbers, green beans, and broccoli have less carbohydrate content. Hence, eating these vegetables will have less impact on your blood sugar level.
That being said, starchy vegetables are not far off the horizon! You can even include starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, whole grain pasta, chickpeas, beans, and corns. And fruits like cantaloupes, berries and apples can be included, too. However, you need to pay attention to eating a balanced serving size.
Yellow corn glycemic index
If you are extra cautious about the glycemic index of corn (which measures how fast carbs turn into glucose), you need to know that sweet corn falls in the low GI category. Its GI value is 52 and likewise, popcorn has a GI value of 65. What about the white corn glycemic index? Well, white corns also have a low glycemic index, which will release your sugar gradually.
In addition, their high dietary fibre helps with digestion and weight loss. Since corn has a moderate carbohydrate content, it has a medium glycemic load. That is why portion size is key when eating corn.
How is corn good for diabetes?
Recent studies show that eating corn helps to maintain your blood sugar level. It shows that consuming sweet corn-
- Regulates insulin levels in your body
- Enhances your blood flow
- Reduce your cholesterol levels
- Aids in digestion and weight management
Also, consuming a moderate quantity of corn lowers your glucose and insulin response. Its high polyphenol content can help prevent chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes. Not every diabetic patient negatively responds to foods like corn. It’s critical that you listen to the signs of your body and even practice dietary guidelines.
Of course, you don’t want to miss out on the corn’s nutritional value. But its quantity is one more thing to keep in mind.
Try the plate method for corn and diabetes
Well, the size of your plate matters! Diabetic patients must follow a diabetes diet. So, experts often recommend the plate method to manage your blood sugar levels. Yes, you can add corn and this method is super easy to follow!
First, get a plate that’s not too big (a big plate means a large portion!). To avoid this, choose the appropriate size of the plate–about 9 inches across. Now, draw an imaginary line on your plate, breaking it into three sections.
- In the larger half of your section, you need to fill in non-starchy vegetables. Remember, this will make up a major part of your meal. For instance, asparagus, broccoli, and leafy greens are non-starchy. They won’t increase your blood sugar level, as they are low in carbs. And they are incredibly nutritious!
- Now, take one-quarter off the plate and fill it with lean proteins. Since lean proteins are low in fats, they make a healthier food choice. Some examples of lean proteins include fish, chicken, lean beef, tofu, and cheese.
- Fill another remaining quarter of your plate with starchy vegetables. These will affect your blood sugar more compared to other veggies. You can add cooked corn but without unhealthy additions like butter and salt. Instead, you can drizzle some olive oil and fresh herbs like basil for an extra touch of flavour. You can eat other carb foods like potato, brown rice, and oatmeal as well, but with certain limits.
Moderation is the way to go
Ultimately, to what extent is corn good for diabetes? Does corn raise blood sugar?
Like any other diet myth that exists, corn is one too. The choice is yours whether you want to consume corn. But corn for diabetic patients does not cause any significant spike in their blood glucose levels. You can add moderate quantities of corn to your meals with no guilt.
Since it offers numerous benefits to your health, eating a bit of corn won’t be a terrible idea for people. Plus, incorporate a healthy diet with natural sugars like fruits, and drink plenty of water. This will help you to manage your diabetes in the long run.
If you have a corn allergy, avoid eating it. Otherwise, go ahead and enjoy steaming hot grilled corn with your friends!
- Gomez, E. C. (2015). 113: THE EFFECTS OF CORN (ZEA MAYS) IN THE DIETARY MANAGEMENT OF PATIENTS WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES MELLITUS. Forum 2015 Abstracts, bmjopen-2015-forum2015abstracts. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-forum2015abstracts.113