Corn, a great ally for the kitchen and the brain

The corn (Zea mays) It is very energetic and nutritious due to its contribution of carbohydrates and proteins, although its composition varies greatly depending on whether it is eaten tender or dry, or how much the flour has been refined.

Sweet corn is not only consumed as a vegetable because it is sweet and juicy. Also from a nutritional point of view it is more similar to a vegetable than a cereal. As it contains a lot of water (almost 80% of its weight) it is lighter (86 calories per 100 grams compared to 365 for dry corn). It does not provide as much energy as dry corn (16% carbohydrates compared to 67%), but its sugars have not yet been transformed into starch, which in addition to accentuating its sweetness makes it easier to digest.

Young corn also preserves vitamin C: if it is not overcooked, a 100 gram serving can provide more than 10% of what is needed per day.

As for corn proteins (9% in dry corn), they are deficient in several amino acids, such as tryptophan and lysine, so to make the best use of them, it is advisable to combine the cereal with foods such as legumes.

ally of the brain

Of the cereals, corn is the only one that provides beta carotene or provitamin A, in greater quantities when it is tender: about 145 mcg/100 g once cooked and ready to eat. However, above all, look for B vitamins (B1, B5 and folic acid) and the antioxidant vitamin E.

A serving of 100 grams of cooked corn provides 24% of the daily needs of vitamin B1, 14% of B5 and almost 20% of folic acid. The first, in addition to participating in obtaining energy, is associated with better memory functioning, while the second not only helps metabolize carbohydrates, proteins and fats but is very useful in periods of stress, since It promotes the proper functioning of the adrenal glands.

As for minerals, it provides abundant phosphorus, magnesium and zinc, as well as some iron and manganese.

Corn in the kitchen

In addition to fresh in the seasonal months, corn can be purchased frozen or packaged, in the form of flakes, in semolina or polenta, or in the form of flour, for the preparation of cakes and pastry products.

The best way to cook sweet corn, if it is tender, is to steam it. This way it is even more refreshing and better preserves its color and texture. Baby ears, on the other hand, are used in wok stir-fries along with other vegetables. You can enhance its flavor with coconut milk, curry, a little ginger or turmeric.

If the grains are boiled, it is preferable not to overcook them and salt them at the end to prevent the skin from hardening. To make them more tender, they can be cooked in equal parts water and milk.

But the best way to enjoy a corn on the cob without having to worry about it on the stove is to roast it, in the oven or on the coals of a barbecue and season it with herb butter. In that case it is preferable to choose medium or small ears, and remove the filaments first. It is not advisable to tear off the outer leaves, as they protect the grains and help retain moisture.

With the leaves you can prepare tamales, small packets filled with meat, fish or various vegetables, with a spicy flavor.

Gofio can be prepared with other cereals and accompanied by banana. Sweetened with honey, it is eaten for breakfast.

Polenta pairs well with cheese, and can serve as a base for a wheat-free pizza. It is cooked in a tall saucepan in plenty of water with salt, stirring until it thickens, spread it on trays greased with oil and let it cool. It is usually prepared fried, accompanied with tomato sauce as a side dish or as a main dish.

Mayra Paterson (health) and Santi Ávalos (cooking)