Origins and Culture
The kernels that we commonly call "corn" are technically the fruit of the plant Zea mays, corn is widely classified as a grain and is typically included in research studies of whole grain foods like wheat, oats, and barley. Throughout much of the world, corn is referred to as "maize." In many ways, "maize" is the best way of describing this plant since it was first domesticated in Mesoamerica over 8,000 years ago and was originally described using the Spanish word "maiz." This remarkable food took on sacred qualities for many Central American and South American cultures, as well as many Native American tribes in what is now the United States.
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Nutritional and Medicinal Properties
While it might sound surprising to some people who are used to thinking about corn as a plain, staple food, or a snack food, or a summertime party food, corn is actually a unique phytonutrient-rich food that provides us with well-documented antioxidant benefits. In terms of conventional antioxidant nutrients, corn is a good source of vitamin C as well as the mineral manganese. But it is corn's phytonutrients that have taken center stage in the antioxidant research on corn.
While not a "Dirty Dozen" food in terms of pesticide residues as evaluated by the U.S. Environmental Working Group (EWG), non-organic, conventionally grown corn has repeatedly been shown to contain organochlorine pesticide residues. In one study, 19 different pesticide residues were found on samples of conventionally grown corn. Like potential GE risks, potential pesticide risks can be avoided through selection of certified organic corn.
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