Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wellness Wednesday / "Delia's Dose"

This week I am inspired by the Memorial Holiday weekend and all those family bbq’s!  Besides burgers, hotdogs, beer and pork steaks…the other standard at a Midwest summer time bbq is…CORN ON THE COB!  I grew up here in the middle of the country and around here corn is considered a vegetable…but it is really?
First we have to understand the difference between a fruit and a vegetable and a grain. Products that come from the reproductive part of a plant are fruits. Products that come from the vegetative part of a plant(the stem, leaf, or root)are vegetables. Botanically speaking, corn is a CARYOPSIS..or the dried fruit of a plant, which is usually known as a grain. (CONFUSING!!)
Grain definition: a small, hard seed, especially the seed of a food plant such as wheat, corn, rye, oats, rice or millet.

The USDA website, ChooseMyPlate.Gov has corn in the starchy vegetables category, along with black eyed peas, green peas, lima beans, potatoes, and water chestnuts. Corn is high in carbohydrates and calories, which makes it a good provider of energy. It’s also gluten free, but it is not ideal for diabetics or folks trying to lose weight because it does spike your glycemic index. Corn  and corn by products greatly affect our blood sugar. Our body turns them to glucose(sugar), which triggers insulin production. That’s fine, because insulin helps glucose enter our cells where it is then used for energy. BUT, if over time, your blood sugar and insulin levels stay high or spike rapidly(because you are digesting a lot of starchy foods and things like high fructose corn syrup), you may develop insulin resistance…which of course leads to obesity and type 2 diabetes!

Of course, the occasional corn on the cob at the family bbq is not a problem.  It becomes an issue when we consider corn as a vegetable serving everyday at our kids schools or on our dinner plates. The United States is the largest producer of corn…and it is used in different forms in everything from corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, and corn fed cows, chickens, pigs and even fish! One of my favorite authors, Michael Pollan, said of the typical American diet… “if you are what you eat…what you are is corn.”  Start really looking at those food labels…see how much corn product you are putting into your body. For example, a co worker of mine loves these gummy candies and the ingredients on the current bag of goodies at her desk reads: corn syrup, sugar, gelatin, maltodextrin(processed artificial sweetener/filler/binding agent-made from rice, CORN, or potato starch). So, her sweet treat for the day is full of SUGAR, PROCESSED SUGAR AND SUGAR. Another item found here in our employee break room fridge…the ingredients read: Water, Sugar, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Citric Acid, Guar Gum, Artificial Flavor(Cherry, Lime, Grape, Root Beer, Banana), Natural Orange Flavor, Artificial Colors(Blue #1, Red #40, Yellow #5, and #6, Annatto-Turmeric Color, Caramel Color, Sodium Benzoate.  Wow..that’s a lot of stuff that I am not sure what it is…I shall investigate those things further, but look…sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup…Sugar in 3 ways! NICE!  

Alright, now corn products aren’t ALL bad…it does have good things like vitamin B-6, folate, copper, iron, phosphorus, magnesium and fiber..all things that are really good for us…but once corn is highly processed(corn syrup, modified corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, , it loses its nutritional value. Again, as with a lot of things, I say, eat corn in moderation…vegetable or grain…there a A LOT of other veggies out there that are WAYYY better for us! And, be aware of all the processed corn products in the food you eat!!

Here’s a good summer time corn recipe:
1/3 cup lime juice
Zest of one lime
½ cup olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 (15oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups fresh corn (or defrosted frozen corn)
½ cup diced red onion
1 avocado, diced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
½ cup fresh flat leaf parsley

Put lime juice, zest, olive oil, garlic, salt and cayenne in a small jar. Cover and shake until combined.
Combine beans, corn, avocado, bell pepper, tomatoes, onion and parsley. Pour dressing over salad and stir gently until everything is well coated.

Have a Healthy Week!
DISCLAIMER: Delia is not a Doctor, Nutritionist, or Registered Dietitian. She is simply a person dedicated to eating healthy foods and living a healthy lifestyle. She loves to help and inspire others to do the same!

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