Corn Benefits + Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 08/12/22 •  11 min read
corn benefits and side effects

What are corn benefits and side effects every ethical consumer must know? Here are corn pros and cons and how buying them will impact your health, the environment, animals and laborers. 

Food is something we consume every day and if you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on corn benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about corn benefits and side effects. This will include corn benefits for your health and potential risks, corn water footprint and corn carbon footprint, corn sustainability, if corn are vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if corn are good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about corn benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Must-Know Corn Benefits And Side Effects

Health

Corn health benefits may include:

Corn health side effects may include:

Additionally, corn is…

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Environment

Water footprint: low, it takes 1,222 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of corn / 146 gallons of water to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of corn

Carbon footprint: low, 0.60 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of dry corn, a car driving equivalent of 1.5 miles or 2.5 kilometers

Destruction: high, corn depletes nitrogen and other important nutrients from the soil, more than a third of U.S. corn is for animal feed, another third grown for ethanol for cars, 92% of corn crops grown in the US in 2016 were genetically modified (GMO), crops are modified to increase yield and improve resistance to insects, disease or chemicals used to kill pests, corn production involves monocropping, causing soil structure and quality to be so poor farmers must use chemical fertilizers to encourage growth, pesticides and fertilizers contaminate ground water and become airborne, creating pollution, monocropping is not an issue if the product is organic

Corn is…

Animals

Kills: none, corn production does not require any animals to die

Harms: none, corn production does not require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: wildlife and ecosystems, 92% of corn crops grown in the US in 2016 was genetically modified (GMO), crops are modified to resist chemicals used to kill pests, pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Corn is…

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Laborers

Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Corn…

The world’s top corn producing country is USA, followed by China and Brazil.

The world’s top corn exporting country is USA, Brazil, Ukraine, South Africa, France, Romania, Poland, Canada, Hungary and Argentina.

Corn is high in Vitamin B1, Vitamin B5, and Vitamin C and fiber but high in starch.

corn is alkaline when fresh.

acidic foods and alkaline diet benefits that improve ph levels

Is corn alkaline or acidic?

Corn is alkaline when fresh.

What is the pH level of corn?

Corn has a 7.5 pH level, when fresh once digested.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

corn is gluten free. corn benefits include fitting into a gluten free diet.

glutinous foods have side effects but a gluten free diet can help

Is corn gluten free?

Yes, corn is naturally gluten free. Corn does not contain gluten.

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

corn is not a common food allergen. corn benefits include being safe for most.

side effects of common food allergens like milk, wheat, soy, fish, tree nuts, peanuts, eggs and crustaceans

Is corn a common food allergen?

No, corn is not a common food allergen. Some people may experience allergic reactions to corn but it is uncommon.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

corn is a high-fodmap food.

fodmap friendly food

Is corn FODMAP friendly?

No. Corn is a high-FODMAP food so you should limit or eliminate it while on a low-FODMAP diet. 

A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.

See this High-FODMAP and Low-FODMAP List of Foods

corn has a low water footprint. corn benefits include not requiring too much water.

water footprints of food and products

Does corn have a high or low water footprint?

Corn has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

What is the water footprint of corn?

It takes 1,222 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of corn / 146 gallons of water to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of corn.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake….quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of “water footprints”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

corn has a low carbon footprint.

carbon footprints of food and food emissions

Does corn have a high or low carbon footprint?

Corn has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

What is the carbon footprint of corn? It takes around 0.60 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of dry corn, a car driving equivalent of 1.5 miles or 2.5 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

corn is unsustainable.

sustainable shopping, for eco friendly brands and products good for the environment

Overall, is corn eco friendly? Is corn sustainable?

Corn production is unsustainable.

Corn production depletes nitrogen and other important nutrients from the soil. More than a third of American corn is for animal feed, another third for ethanol for cars. 92% of corn crops in the US in 2016 were genetically modified (GMO). Such crops are modified to increase yield and improve resistance to insects, disease or chemicals used to kill pests. GMOs often come with toxic, harmful pesticides that are toxic for eco systems and wildlife.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

corn is vegan but harmful to wildlife and ecosystems if not organic.

benefits of vegan food to eat on a vegan diet which helps save animals

Is corn vegan?

Yes, corn is vegan. Corn is a cereal grain and not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. However, corn is often harmful to wildlife and ecosystems if not organic.

Animals of factory farming are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. Growth hormones allow all kinds of animals to become fatter faster and live short lives.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

corn may have labor issues and human rights concerns.

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

Is corn a product that has known labor issues?

At this time, there are no known specific reports of worker mistreatment regarding corn farming but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Corn may or may not have labor issues.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade.

This post was all about corn benefits and side effects.

Sources:

Corn | USDA Foreign Agricultural Service

USDA Deregulates Corn Developed Using Genetic Engineering

Sweet Corn – Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer

Adriane Marie

Grocery Guru, Material Maven, Conscious Consumer Connoisseur. I organize ethical info for us to comprehensively see how purchases impact people, animals and the planet. I hope you find HEALabel helpful! Use it for personal and global improvement and empowerment.

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