Food

Corn – intolerance and allergy

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Corn is a species of plant in the grass family. Corn is one of the staple foods worldwide. The plant is also used as a fodder and energy plant.

Here’s what you should know about corn

Today’s cultivated corn comes from the wild grass teosinte. Prehistoric remains of balsas teosinte have been found in Panama, Mexico and Peru. It is estimated that the first varieties of corn, which are very similar to today’s corn, were cultivated more than 9000 years ago.

Several thousand years later, cultivated corn also made its way to Europe. Christopher Columbus discovered the corn plant in the Caribbean and brought it to Spain. From 1525, corn was grown in fields in Spain. The first written mention can be found in a herb book by Leonhart Fuchs from 1543. Maize has been cultivated in Germany since the 16th century. At first, the sweet grass was only grown in the Rhine area or in Baden due to the climatic conditions. Only after food shortages arose in 1805 due to a failed potato harvest were maize varieties bred that could also thrive in central and northern Germany.

At that time, however, corn was still mainly used to feed cattle. Gradually, however, the maize served more and more to supply the population. It was used for soups, puddings, porridge or cakes. Corn is traditionally harvested in summer. Sowing takes place between April and May as a single grain seed. The sowing distance is around 15 centimetres, the row spacing is around 75 centimetres. The ripe cobs are harvested between mid-September and early October.

Cultivated corn is an annual herbaceous plant. The growth height is between one and three meters. The culm is covered with leaf sheaths and contains pulp. The leaves are arranged in culms with the ligules dissected. The inflorescences are in panicles at the tip of the shoot. The flask-shaped infructescence develops from the ovary. At harvest time, this contains the corn kernels. Depending on the variety, these can be red, yellow, white or purple.

Around 15 percent of the global corn harvest is used as food. The majority is fed to livestock. 20 percent is used elsewhere and processed further. Corn is the most important staple food for more than 900 million people. Many people in East and South Africa or in the Andean regions get their energy mainly from corn. In Germany, only a small portion is used for direct consumption. Portions of the kernels are processed into cornstarch, corn grits, glucose syrup, corn oil, popcorn, or tortillas.

importance to health

For good reason, corn is a staple food in many parts of the world. It offers a balanced mixture of carbohydrates , fats , minerals and proteins . In particular, the content of B vitamins is worth mentioning. Added to this is the high starch content of the plant. This makes the corn particularly nutritious.

Corn germ oil and corn starch are used as remedies. The oil consists mainly of linoleic acid and oleic acid. Vitamin E and phytosterols are also included . Corn oil is cholesterol-free and is therefore ideal for a low-cholesterol diet. With its high content of healthy fats and vitamin E, the oil from the corn germ is considered a valuable and healthy edible oil. Corn starch is used as an additive in the manufacture of medicines.

Ingredients & nutritional values

For the most part, corn consists of water . In addition to water, it also contains fats, proteins and carbohydrates. The carbohydrates consist mainly of fructose, glucose and sucrose. Immediately after the harvest, the corn tastes very sweet due to this sugar content. The longer it is stored, the more sugar is converted into starch.

Stored corn therefore tastes less sweet. Corn contains numerous vitamins . These include provitamin A, vitamin C , vitamin E and various vitamins from the B group. Minerals such as potassium , calcium , iron , sodium , phosphorus , zinc and magnesium are also included. Corn also has several essential amino acids such as leucine , phenylalanine , threonine , and isoleucineon board. 100 grams of fresh corn kernels contain 330 calories. The calorie content of canned corn is around 80 calories per 100 grams. Dried corn has 370 calories.

Intolerances & allergies

Corn allergies are rather rare, but can certainly occur. The allergic symptoms then appear mainly after the consumption of corn starch. Otherwise corn is generally well tolerated. Since corn is gluten-free, people with gluten intolerance like to use corn flour for baking. Corn is one of the few grains that does not contain gluten.

Shopping & kitchen tips

Fresh corn from the field is available at the weekly market at harvest time. The cobs are then still in the green corn leaves. The so-called corn beard is also still present in fresh corn. In the supermarket, corn on the cob is usually available pre-cooked in a can or in vacuum packaging. Alternatively, the individual grains loosened by the piston in the can can be used.

When it comes to storing canned corn, there is not much to consider. Canned corn keeps for several years. Of course, the best-before date on the packaging should be observed. The preserves should be stored in a dark and cool place, away from direct sunlight. The vacuumed and shrink-wrapped corn cobs also last a very long time. At best, they should be stored in the refrigerator.

However, fresh corn cobs should be eaten as soon as possible. If they are stored for too long, the sugar they contain turns into starch. The cobs then no longer taste juicy and sweet, but get a mealy taste.

Preparation tips

Sweet corn varieties that are particularly tender can even be eaten raw. Usually, however, the grains and cobs are eaten cooked. The corn can be enjoyed pure as cobs. All you have to do is cook it in boiling water for a few minutes. It can also be prepared on the grill after a short pre-cooking. The corn kernels can be easily detached from the cob with a knife. The freshly dissolved grains taste more aromatic than the grains from the can. The cobs taste particularly good with a little butter and salt and pepper. Fresh herbs also go well with the cobs.

Some corn varieties cannot be eaten directly due to their high starch content. They are then ground into cornmeal. Cornmeal can be used to make tortillas. Tortillas are filled with meat, cheese, vegetables and sauces or served with chili con carne. Polenta can also be made from corn. Polenta is a porridge made from corn grits. In Italy, Provence and Spain, polenta is a traditional dish. The polenta is served with melted butter , Parmesan cheese , pasta or with a brown sauce. It also serves as an accompaniment to ragouts and stews.

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Hello! I am Lisa Newlon, and I am a medical writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience in the healthcare industry. I have a Master’s degree in Medicine, and my deep understanding of medical terminology, practices, and procedures has made me a trusted source of information in the medical world.