Is Corn Good For Weight Loss? Reasons Why & How It Helps 2022

Sevginur Akdas

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Dr G. Michael DiLeo, MD

is corn good for weight loss

There is no black or white in nutrition. There are many debates over corn, also known as maize, pertaining to its consumption and health effects. To explore this rationally, we need to use science, i.e., scientific articles, to get an idea of whether or not corn is good for weight loss.

Corn is the staple food of many countries. It is also involved in the production of many different food products as it is a naturally gluten-free product that many people prefer as a carbohydrate source. 

Eating corn provides[1] carotenoids, phenolic compounds, vitamin E, antioxidant enzymes, and minerals which have many health benefits. This content of corn also makes it suitable for a weight loss diet.

Does Corn Help You Lose Weight?

The molecular structures of starch, non-starch polysaccharides, and protein content differ among the corn varieties. The ones with high amylose and high protein are grabbing the scientific world’s attention.  

According to a comprehensive review[2] of macronutrients in corn, corn with high amylose, particularly, has a slow digestive rate and beneficial effects on blood sugar and insulin levels, insulin sensitivity, satiety and appetite control, lipid metabolism, weight management, colon health, and mineral absorption.

Corn offers low-calorie, low-fat and high carotenoids, phenolic species, vitamins, magnesium, and potassium. Its fiber content, like that of fruits and vegetables, is important for weight loss. 

It is stated in the same paper that the high amylose content of corn reduces its glycemic index, which shows its contribution toward maintaining blood sugar levels. On the other hand, sweet corn has lower starch and amylose levels but a high free glucose level responsible for its sweet taste, causing it to raise sugar levels. Sweet corn or boiled corn can be good for weight loss only if you consume it with portion control.

Low-Calorie

Corn can be a low-calorie food, but it depends on the type of corn product you consume.

Popcorn is good for weight loss diets as a snack if you can control your portion. Low-fat popcorn can be an enjoyable and low-calorie snack, and it is an excellent alternative when you can prepare it at home instead of eating highly processed and packaged snacks. 

For example, you can have one serving of popcorn using 2 tbsp[3] corn kernels. If you don’t use oil, one serving of popcorn is 110 kcal. That is a good size snack, and you can even use 1 tbsp unsaturated oil (45 kcal) for popping the corn to increase the taste.  

Sweet corn is a naturally sweet food product that may satisfy your hunger for carbs while avoiding eating highly processed sugar-containing products. But it may lead to higher blood sugar or a spike. Lowering the amount of sweet corn can help you regulate it, and you can add healthy nuts or dairy products to avoid sudden blood sugar increases. 

Low Fat

Corn is a naturally low-fat food. Reducing fat, especially saturated and trans fats, is important in the diet to reduce your heart disease risk. Your diet should include low-fat foods if you have any cardiovascular or fatty liver diseases, high blood lipids, or unhealthy body weight. Corn is a good alternative for low-fat energy sources. 

Vitamins

Corn contains[1] vitamins B1, B3, B9, and vitamin C. The B-group vitamins are important for the energy management of the body. Vitamin C is essential for the immune system and antioxidant mechanisms. That means corn can help you with energy expenditure regulation while it protects your body from the free radicals that occur during metabolism. 

Magnesium

Our body needs several trace elements to maintain an overall healthy metabolism. Magnesium[4] has important roles in energy production, DNA and RNA synthesis, glucose metabolism, and bone and muscle metabolism. Corn has a good amount of magnesium, contributing to your dietary intake.

Potassium

Potassium[5] is one of the ions that safeguards cardiovascular health and regulates insulin synthesis. It is important to consume low-sodium and adequate-potassium foods for cardiometabolic diseases. 

Fiber

Corn is a vegetable, so it includes dietary fiber[6] to contribute to human health. It helps with appetite control and regulates blood sugar. Increased dietary fiber intake helps you to lose weight and reduces your risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, or cancers.   

Nutrition Facts

One regular ear of corn (nearly 105 g)[7] includes (with %Daily Value):

  • Calories: 90 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 20 g (7%)
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.1 g (8%)
  • Protein: 3.4 g (7%)
  • Fat: 1.4 g (1%)
  • Saturated Fat: 0.3 g (2%)
  • Sodium: 15.75 mg (1%)
  • Potassium: 283.5 mg (6%)
  • Magnesium: 35.85 mg (9%)
  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 0.163 mg (14%)
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): 1.85 mg (12%)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): 44.10 mcg (11%)
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): 7.1 mg (8%) 

How To Eat Corn For Weight Loss?

You can evaluate the nutrient facts of corn to decide whether or not corn will help you lose weight. The main strategy is how to consume it.

Because of the taste of corn and its variety, it proves versatile in adding it to your daily diet. 

Salads

is corn good for weight loss

You can add corn on top of your salads to add to its taste. 

Meals

is corn good for weight loss

You can add corn, especially baby corn, to an oven-prepared meal. You can add grilled corn as a side dish to your main meal. 

Snacks

is corn good for weight loss

You can eat low-fat, unsalted popcorn as a snack. No worries about getting too many calories if you don’t eat to excess or don’t add extra fat, sugar, or sauces.

Corn Flour

is corn good for weight loss

It is good for making bread without gluten. Celiac disease patients, for example, prefer corn flour in preparing natural, gluten-free bread.

Other Health Benefits Of Corn

Metabolic Effects

Laboratory analysis[8] showed that traditional corn has inhibitory effects on several enzymes related to the mechanisms of diabetes and hypertension (glucosidase, α-amylase, and angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE)), leading to better regulation of blood sugar and hypertension. 

Corn varieties with high amylose content contribute to intestinal health as they are slower to digest. Since they have a low glycemic index, they do not raise blood sugar quickly. It is more suitable for individuals with metabolic diseases.

In addition, corn is a suitable carbohydrate source for people with celiac disease and gluten intolerance.

Antioxidant Effects

Corn is shown to have anthocyanin[9], which is one of the important antioxidant phenol species in colored fruits and vegetables. Corn is the cheapest source of anthocyanin in the food industry to use as a natural colorant. 

Corn has carotenoid[10] content, but it differs among corn grains. Carotenoids[11] are shown as powerful immune supporters obtained from the diet. Carotenoids’ effects on reducing oxidative stress and free radicals help to prevent age-related diseases[12] such as macular degeneration[13]. There is also a rarely known corn type (Zea mays L.)[14] with a purple color that includes a great number of phenolic compounds with anti-cancerogenic effects.  

Suitable For Cardiovascular Disease Diets

Corn has low sodium and high potassium[15] levels, and there is zero cholesterol, which covers the basics for cardiovascular disease-preventive diets. People with high blood fat (cholesterol and/or triglycerides) or hypertension may consume corn in a daily diet with portion control.  

Suitable For Biofortification

In addition, corn is a product that can be enriched in terms of nutrient content. The deficiencies in some minerals, such as iron and zinc, can be targeted for biofortification.

Protein enrichment[16] of corn (quality protein maize)[17] with specific gene modification for increasing the protein intake of children at risk for nutritional deficiencies. This corn type has twice as much lysine and tryptophan amino acids as ordinary corn. This is important for many children in rural areas, for growth and development, or for vegan or vegetarian people to have an adequate protein intake. 

Is Corn Safe?

This is the most discussed part of the corn controversy. Surely, corn-based products high in fructose corn syrup or processed corn-based foods, cereals, or snacks, is unhealthy and may lead to many diseases. 

However, when it comes to genetic modification in corn production, we need to read more. First, there are several reasons behind genetically modified foods: stability, durability, increasing nutrients, repelling harmful insects and bacteria, and increasing the yield for population needs. 

Still, genetic modification is new, so we need more knowledge about the health effects of these applications, and further studies about genetic modification in foods are required. However, we still need to acknowledge that there are too many people in the world who need access reach sustainable, nutritious, and cheap foods. If you are concerned with uncertainties, keep up with science and any novel scientific developments. 

The Bottom Line

Your nutrition shouldn’t have strict boundaries, but there are some guidelines you should follow in your diet. Consuming corn in moderation can be a good option for weight loss diets as corn is a low-fat, low-calorie, plant-based, fiber-rich food product. The corn variety you prefer will determine its health effects. 

Corns which include high starch (amylose) or high phenolic compounds (such as purple corn) are better to consume in your diet than consuming sweet corn. Also, the harmful effects of high fructose corn syrup in processed foods are obvious and not recommended for any diet.


+ 17 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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  2. Ai, Y. and Jane, J. (2016). Macronutrients in Corn and Human Nutrition. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, [online] 15(3), pp.581–598. doi:10.1111/1541-4337.12192.
  3. myfooddata. (2019). Nutrition Facts for Brandless – Popcorn Kernels. [online] Available at: https://tools.myfooddata.com/nutrition-facts/548069/wt1/1
  4. Volpe, S.L. (2013). Magnesium in Disease Prevention and Overall Health. Advances in Nutrition, [online] 4(3), pp.378S383S. doi:10.3945/an.112.003483.
  5. Weaver, C.M. (2013). Potassium and Health. Advances in Nutrition, [online] 4(3), pp.368S377S. doi:10.3945/an.112.003533.
  6. Lattimer, J.M. and Haub, M.D. (2010). Effects of Dietary Fiber and Its Components on Metabolic Health. Nutrients, [online] 2(12), pp.1266–1289. doi:10.3390/nu2121266.
  7. Nutritionvalue.org. (2022). Corn, raw nutrition facts and analysis. [online] Available at: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Corn%2C_raw_75109600_nutritional_value.html?size=1%20regular%20ear%20%3D%20105%20g
  8. Journal of Medicinal Food. (2021). Health Benefits of Traditional Corn, Beans, and Pumpkin: In Vitro Studies for Hyperglycemia and Hypertension Management | Journal of Medicinal Food. [online] Available at: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/jmf.2006.234?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori%3Arid%3Acrossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub++0pubmed
  9. ACS Publications. (2017). Survey of Anthocyanin Composition and Concentration in Diverse Maize Germplasms. [online] Available at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/acs.jafc.7b00771
  10. Sun, X., Ma, L., Lux, P.E., Wang, X., Stuetz, W., Frank, J. and Liang, J. (2022). The distribution of phosphorus, carotenoids and tocochromanols in grains of four Chinese maize (Zea mays L.) varieties. Food Chemistry, [online] 367, p.130725. doi:10.1016/j.foodchem.2021.130725.
  11. Xavier, A.A.O. and Pérez-Gálvez, A. (2016). Carotenoids as a Source of Antioxidants in the Diet. Subcellular Biochemistry, [online] pp.359–375. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-39126-7_14.
  12. Tan, B.L. and Norhaizan, M.E. (2019). Carotenoids: How Effective Are They to Prevent Age-Related Diseases? Molecules, [online] 24(9), p.1801. doi:10.3390/molecules24091801.
  13. Mozaffarieh, M., Sacu, S. and Wedrich, A. (2003). The role of the carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, in protecting against age-related macular degeneration: A review based on controversial evidence. Nutrition Journal, [online] 2(1). doi:10.1186/1475-2891-2-20.
  14. Lao, F., Sigurdson, G.T. and Giusti, M.M. (2017). Health Benefits of Purple Corn (Zea maysL.) Phenolic Compounds. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, [online] 16(2), pp.234–246. doi:10.1111/1541-4337.12249.
  15. Fu, J., Liu, Y., Zhang, L., Zhou, L., Li, D., Quan, H., Zhu, L., Hu, F., Li, X., Meng, S., Yan, R., Zhao, S., Onwuka, J.U., Yang, B., Sun, D. and Zhao, Y. (2020). Nonpharmacologic Interventions for Reducing Blood Pressure in Adults With Prehypertension to Established Hypertension. Journal of the American Heart Association, [online] 9(19). doi:10.1161/jaha.120.016804.
  16. Gunaratna, N., Moges, D. and De Groote, H. (2019). Biofortified Maize Can Improve Quality Protein Intakes among Young Children in Southern Ethiopia. Nutrients, [online] 11(1), p.192. doi:10.3390/nu11010192.
  17. Maqbool, M.A., Beshir Issa, A. and Khokhar, E.S. (2021). Quality protein maize (QPM): Importance, genetics, timeline of different events, breeding strategies and varietal adoption. Plant Breeding, [online] 140(3), pp.375–399. doi:10.1111/pbr.12923.
Sevginur Akdas

Written by:

Sevginur Akdas, RD

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

Sevginur Akdas is a researcher, medical writer, and clinical dietitian, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in metabolism, chronic diseases, and clinical nutrition fields. She has many scientific articles, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and book chapters on nutrition, chronic diseases, dietary supplements, maternal and child nutrition, molecular nutrition & functional foods topics as a part of a research team currently. Besides her academic background, she is also a professional health&medical writer since 2017.

Medically reviewed by:

Michael DiLeo

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