What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a Corn-Only Diet?

In this brief article, we will address the query: “Benefits and drawbacks of a corn-only diet” We will briefly explain the historical significance of corn, the potential risks of a corn-only diet, the benefits of including corn in your diet and also some tips on how to vary your diet with recipes and meals.

What are the Benefits and Drawbacks of a Corn-Only Diet?

There are several drawbacks to doing a corn-only Diet. Actually, it is not possible to have a corn-only Diet, because consuming only corn will increase the risk of suffering malnutrition, susceptibility to getting ill, and risk of being overweight (1,2,3,4).

Hence, there is no corn-only Diet, instead, there is a low-sugar and sugar-free diet (5). 

On the other hand, the potential benefits of incorporating some corn in your diet include promoting your intestinal health and regulation of lipids in the blood, such as cholesterol (6).

What is the nutritional composition of Corn?

The nutritional composition of corn is approximately 74 % carbohydrates, 4 % fiber,10.8 % water, 6.5 % protein, 4.7 % fat (7,8). You can get other important nutrients from corn, like minerals (e.g.: calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium) and vitamins (vitamin B group and vitamin E) (7).

Unfortunately, the protein quality of corn is not the best one. Protein quality is measured by the content of essential amino acids (those that your organism is not able to produce). Corn’s protein is lacking Lysine and Tryptophan (7), essential amino acids necessary to the correct function of the human organism (9).

Potential Health Risks of a Corn-only Diet

There are some potential risks of doing a corn-only Diet (1,2,3,4):

  • The deficiency in essential amino acids will affect your immune system, hormone production, and muscle development, making you susceptible to getting ill
  • Because corn is mainly composed of carbohydrates, the excessive consumption of corn could increase your risk of obesity, overweight, or cardiovascular disease
  • Moreover, consuming only Corn will not give you all the nutrients you need, and you can suffer from malnutrition

Looking at all this information, doing a corn-only Diet has meaningful negative impacts.

Potential Health Benefits of Consuming Corn in Your Diet

The potential health benefits of consuming an adequate intake of corn in your diet are the following (6):

  • The fiber in corn could give you satiety, which can contribute to maintaining a healthy weight
  • Promotes gastrointestinal health: prevents constipation, and stomach acidity, and it could prevent colon cancer
  • Promotes cardiovascular health: it could reduce lipids in your blood, such as cholesterol and LDL lipoproteins

How to Incorporate Variety into a Corn-only Diet

You can add some variety to a corn-only Diet using other ingredients (10), this will be helpful not only to provide new colors and flavors to your foods but also to complement all the nutritional needs of your organism.

To increase the protein quality, you can add pulses like beans, pea, lentils, and chickpea; this is an excellent combination to get a high-quality protein! Moreover, you can use different vegetables in your recipes, this will add valuable vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber (10,11). 

Remember that a varied diet is key to improving your health!

Expert Opinions and Criticisms of a Corn-only Diet

Even though there are no critical opinions on doing a corn-only Diet, there is some scientific research on animals that shows it is not the best call (12,13). 

According to those studies (12,13), consuming only corn could harm your metabolism by a lack of essential nutrients and proteins. In the case of children, the lack of proteins could limit their growth and development.

Alternatives to a Corn-only Diet

You can do a Mesoamerican diet, as an alternative to a corn-only Diet, if you want to give priority to corn in your meals. The Mesoamerican diet is considered a complete, nutritious, sustainable, and affordable diet, awesome! (14)

This diet is mainly composed of all fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, and meats consumed by the ancient civilizations of Latin America. For instance, corn, beans, squash, chilli peppers, papaya, dragon fruit (pitaya), avocado, pork, and fish (14,15).

Recipes and Meal Ideas to Incorporate Corn in Your Diet

You can do a lot of different recipes and meals with corn, like bread, salads, soups, sopes, tacos, quesadillas, and more (16). Check out this USDA webpage, you will find different sources with delicious and varied recipes with corn!

What is the History of Corn Consumption and its Cultural Significance?

In terms of the importance and cultural significance of corn, the consumption of this cereal dates back to more than seven thousand years! It started in the territory where Mexico is now. Now, corn is used worldwide in a wide variety of industries (6).

Many years ago, several civilizations, including Aztecs, Mayas, and South American ethnicities, used corn as food and with religious purposes (basically in rituals) (6).

The ancient foods made with corn, across Latin America, include tortillas, tamales, cancha, choclo, mote, arepas, champú, mazamorra, hojuelas, chicha, atole, pozol, tesgüino, and pinole (6,17).  

Nowadays, corn is a really important cereal in different ways, for instance, you can use it to prepare different food dishes or snacks (e.g.: popcorns, soups, chips, bread), but it is also one of the most common crops used for feeding cattle (6).

Conclusion

In this brief article, we answered the query: “Benefits and drawbacks of a corn-only diet” We took a look at the historical significance of corn. Moreover, we explained the potential risks of a corn-only diet and the benefits of including corn in your diet. At the end of this article, we give you some tips on how to vary your diet with recipes and meals.

References

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(2) Kamei Y, Hatazawa Y, Uchitomi R, Yoshimura R, Miura S. Regulation of skeletal muscle function by amino acids. Nutrients, 2020, 12(1), 261.

(3) Mohan V, Unnikrishnan R, Shobana S, Malavika M, Anjana RM, Sudha V. Are excess carbohydrates the main link to diabetes & its complications in Asians?. The Indian journal of medical research, 2018, 148(5), 531.

(4) Park SH, Lee KS, Park HY. Dietary carbohydrate intake is associated with cardiovascular disease risk in Korean: analysis of the third Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (KNHANES III). International journal of cardiology, 2010, 139(3), 234-240.

(5) Schwimmer JB, Ugalde-Nicalo P, Welsh JA, Angeles JE, Cordero M, Harlow KE, Vos MB, et al. Effect of a low free sugar diet vs usual diet on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in adolescent boys: a randomized clinical trial. Jama, 2019, 321(3), 256-265.

(6) Murdia LK., Wadhwani R, Wadhawan N, Bajpai P, Shekhawat S. Maize utilization in India: an overview. American Journal of Food and Nutrition, 2016, 4(6), 169-176.

(7) Palacios‐Rojas N, McCulley L, Kaeppler M, Titcomb TJ., Gunaratna NS, Lopez‐Ridaura S, Tanumihardjo SA. Mining maize diversity and improving its nutritional aspects within agro‐food systems. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 2020, 19(4), 1809-1834.

(8) FoodData central [Internet]. Usda.gov. [cited 20 april 2023]. Available in: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/790276/nutrients

(9) Xiao F, Guo F. Impacts of essential amino acids on energy balance. Molecular metabolism, 2022, 57, 101393.

(10) Wallace TC, Bailey RL, Blumberg JB, Burton-Freeman B, Chen CO, Crowe-White KM, et al. Fruits, vegetables, and health: A comprehensive narrative, umbrella review of the science and recommendations for enhanced public policy to improve intake. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 2020, 60(13), 2174-2211

(11) Henchion M, Hayes M, Mullen AM, Fenelon M, Tiwari B. Future protein supply and demand: strategies and factors influencing a sustainable equilibrium. Foods, 2017, 6(7), 53.

(12) Gamboa-Delgado J, Rojas-Casas MG, Nieto-López MG, Cruz-Suárez LE. Simultaneous estimation of the nutritional contribution of fish meal, soy protein isolate and corn gluten to the growth of Pacific white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) using dual stable isotope analysis. Aquaculture, 2013, 380, 33-40.

(13) Pereira TG, Oliva‐Teles A. Evaluation of corn gluten meal as a protein source in diets for gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata L.) juveniles. Aquaculture Research, 2003, 34(13), 1111-1117.

(14)Castillo, AM, Alavez V, Castro-Porras L, Martínez Y, Cerritos R. Analysis of the Current Agricultural Production System, Environmental, and Health Indicators: Necessary the Rediscovering of the Pre-hispanic Mesoamerican Diet?. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 2020, 4, 5.

(15) Gómez-Maqueo A, Escobedo-Avellaneda, Z,  Welti-Chanes J. Phenolic compounds in mesoamerican fruits—Characterization, health potential and processing with innovative technologies. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 2020, 21(21), 8357.

(16) Corn [Internet]. SNAP Education Connection. [cited 20 april 2023]. Available in: https://snaped.fns.usda.gov/seasonal-produce-guide/corn

(17) Guzzon F, Arandia Rios LW, Caviedes Cepeda GM, Céspedes Polo M, Chavez Cabrera A, Muriel Figueroa J, et al . Conservation and use of Latin American maize diversity: Pillar of nutrition security and cultural heritage of humanity. Agronomy, 2021, 11(1), 172