12 Side Effects of Eating Corn That Americans Should Know

Corn is a common staple in many diets around the world, enjoyed in various forms such as corn on the cob, popcorn, and corn syrup. While corn offers nutritional benefits, you must also know about the potential side effects associated with its consumption.

Research conducted by expert nutritionists has shown that eating corn can sometimes lead to digestive issues, allergic reactions, and concerns related to its high carbohydrate content. In this article, we will explore the possible side effects of eating corn, backed by scientific studies and expert opinions.

Digestive Issues

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Corn contains high levels of cellulose, a type of fiber that can be hard for some people to digest. This can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, gas etc, especially in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). According to a study in the Journal of Nurse Practitioners, corn is one of the common triggers for IBS symptoms. Corn’s high fiber content can also cause diarrhea in some individuals if consumed in large quantities.

Allergic Reactions

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Corn allergy, though rare, can cause severe reactions. Symptoms can range from mild (hives, itching, rashes) to severe (anaphylaxis). The ingestible protein present in corn could be one of the main reasons for these allergies. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology reports that corn is one of the less common food allergens, but it can still pose significant risks for those affected.

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO) Concerns

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As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most crops grown in America are genetically modified. Hence, these modified crops have potential health risks that one should be aware of. GMO corn has been linked to health issues such as gut flora changes and potential toxic effects on organs like the liver and kidneys. A study published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that GMO corn consumption caused adverse effects in lab animals.

Potential for Mycotoxin Contamination

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According to a report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approx 25% of the world’s crops are affected by mycotoxins, with corn being one of the most susceptible. One study published in the Journal of Food Control found that corn samples tested in the United States contained detectable levels of mycotoxins such as aflatoxin and fumonisin. These toxins can cause liver damage, weaken the immune system, and even lead to cancer if consumed in large amounts over time.

High Carbohydrate Intake

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Eating corn can lead to high carbohydrate intake, which can be a significant concern for some people. Corn is high in starch, which the body breaks down into sugar. According to a report from the USDA, one cup of corn kernels contains about 123 grams of carbohydrates. This high carbohydrate content can contribute to increased blood sugar levels, which can impact patients with diabetes or those trying to lose weight.

Significant Weight Gain

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Corn is high in calories and carbohydrates, which can add up quickly. One cup of corn has about 177 calories and 41 grams of carbohydrates. Consuming excess calories leads to gaining weight over time. Moreover, corn is often eaten with added butter, salt, or other high-calorie toppings, increasing the total calorie intake even more. For people watching their weight, it’s important to eat corn in moderation and be mindful of portion sizes.

Bloating and Flatulence

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Eating corn can cause bloating and flatulence because it is high in fiber and contains certain carbohydrates that are hard to digest. This can cause uncomfortable swelling and gas. According to the Mayo Clinic, foods like corn that are high in fiber and certain carbs can cause these digestive issues. To reduce these symptoms, it can help to eat corn in smaller amounts and to chew it thoroughly. Increasing water intake and staying active can ease bloating and gas after eating corn.

Potential for Increased Inflammation

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Processed corn products, like high-fructose corn syrup, are linked to increased inflammation in the body. This can cause long-term health problems like heart issues and diabetes. Research from the Journal of Nutrition highlights the correlation between high-fructose corn syrup and increased inflammatory markers. Corn also contains high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Some studies also indicate that a diet high in omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation and lead to long-term issues like arthritis and heart disease.

Nutrient Deficiencies

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Corn doesn’t have important amino acids like lysine and tryptophan, which your body needs to make proteins. Relying heavily on corn as a dietary staple without balancing it with other nutrient-rich foods can lead to deficiencies. According to the National Institutes of Health, diets based heavily on corn must be supplemented with other protein sources to avoid nutritional imbalances.

Risk of Pellagra

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Eating too much corn can increase the risk of pellagra, a disease that happens due to not getting enough vitamin B3 (niacin). Corn is low in niacin and contains a substance that makes it hard for the body to absorb this vitamin. Pellagra can cause symptoms like diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia. If untreated, it can be severe. To avoid pellagra, it’s important to eat a balanced diet with other niacin-rich foods like meat, fish, and nuts.

Increased Risk of Heart Disease

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Increased consumption of corn oil, which is high in omega-6 fatty acids, can raise the risk of heart disease due to its potential to promote inflammation. A study published in the National Library of Medicine in 2022 found that diets high in omega-6 fatty acids, such as those rich in corn oil, can lead to higher levels of inflammatory markers in the blood, which are linked to heart disease. While omega-6 fatty acids are essential in small amounts, excessive intake, especially without a balance, may contribute to cardiovascular issues.

Corn Sensitivity

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Some people are sensitive to corn, which can cause various digestive problems and allergic reactions. Symptoms of corn sensitivity include stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, and skin rashes. Corn contains substances like lectins and zein proteins that can sometimes trigger immune responses in certain individuals. When the body recognizes these components as harmful, it may cause inflammation. Unlike a full-blown allergy, which can cause severe reactions, sensitivity usually results in milder but uncomfortable symptoms.

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