Corn is a low-fat complex carbohydrate that deserves a regular place on any healthy table. Unfortunately, as with many other naturally low-fat foods, the American tendency is to smother corn-on-the-cob with butter. But these high-fiber, fat-fighting kernels of goodness are better served with seasoning. Because corn is hearty and satisfying, it can curb your appetite.
This popular food is high in fiber. In fact, it's notoriously hard to digest. But its insoluble fiber is tops at tackling common digestive ailments (like constipation and hemorrhoids) by absorbing water, which swells the stool and speeds its movement.
Corn is a surprising source of several vitamins, including folic acid, niacin, and vitamin C. The folic acid in corn is now known to be an important factor in preventing neural-tube birth defects. It's just as important in preventing heart disease, according to studies that show folic acid can prevent a buildup of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the body. Long-term elevation of homocysteine has been linked to higher rates of heart disease; folic acid helps break it down.
Selection and Storage
End-of-summer corn is by far the best ear in town. Although you can find good-tasting corn year-round, many out-of-season ears aren't worth eating. When buying fresh corn, be sure it was delivered in cold storage -- as temperatures rise, the natural sugar in corn turns to starch, and the corn loses some sweetness. Corn is best eaten within a day or two of picking. Corn husks should be green and have visible kernels that are plump and tightly packed on the cob. To test freshness, pop a kernel with your fingernail. The liquid that spurts out should be milky colored. If not, the corn is either immature or overripe. Once home, refrigerate corn immediately.
Preparation and Serving Tips
Boiling is the traditional method for preparing corn-on-the-cob, though grilling, steaming, and even microwaving will get the job done.
A couple of notes about boiling: Adding salt to the water toughens corn; adding sugar isn't necessary; overcooking toughens kernels. Cook for the shortest amount of time possible -- about 5 minutes. Though you may be tempted to slather on butter or margarine, keep in mind that each pat you add contributes about 2 unnecessary grams of saturated fat to your diet. Instead, sprinkle with a favorite herb or fresh-squeezed lemon juice, or try rubbing corn with a lime wedge and sprinkling with a chili pepper-type seasoning.
Hot, fresh corn-on-the-cob is an almost essential part of any summertime party. Fortunately, it is also a worthy part of any healthful menu. In terms of vegetables, corn is a dieter's dream weight-loss food.
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