Yes, you can eat corn if you have diabetes. Corn is a source of energy, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. It’s also low in sodium and fat.
That said, follow the advice of the American Diabetes Association. Set a daily limit for the amount of carbs you plan to eat, and keep track of the carbohydrates you consume.
One medium ear of cooked, yellow, sweet corn provides:
- calories: 77
- carbohydrates: 17.1 grams
- dietary fiber: 2.4 grams
- sugars: 2.9 grams
- fiber: 2.5 grams
- protein: 2.9 grams
- fat: 1.1 grams
Corn also provides
How food affects blood glucose (blood sugar) is indicated by the glycemic index (GI). Foods with a GI from 56 to 69 are medium glycemic foods. Low-glycemic foods score less than 55. Foods with a high-glycemic index (70 and above) can increase your blood sugar level.
The glycemic index of corn is 52. Other related GI’s include:
- corn tortilla: 46
- cornflakes: 81
- popcorn: 65
If you have diabetes, your focus will be on low-GI foods. If you can’t produce sufficient quantities of insulin (a hormone which helps to process blood sugar), you’ll likely have an excess of blood glucose.
Foods with a high-GI release glucose quickly. Low-glycemic foods tend to release glucose slowly and steadily, which is helpful for keeping blood glucose under control.
The GI is based on a scale of 0 to 100, with 100 being pure glucose.
Portion size and digestible carbohydrates are included in glycemic load (GL), along with glycemic index. The GL of a medium ear of corn is 15.
A 52-week study of patients with type 2 diabetes compared the effects of a low-carb, high-fat diet versus a high-carb, low-fat diet. Although both diets improved average blood sugar levels, weight, and fasting glucose, the low-carb diet performed much better for overall glucose control.
According to a recent study, high consumption of flavonoids, like those found in corn (its largest group of phenolic compounds), reduces the risk of chronic diseases, including diabetes. The study also indicated:
- A moderate intake of resistant starch (about 10 grams per day) from corn can reduce glucose and insulin response.
- Regular whole grain corn consumption improves digestive health and can lower the risk of developing chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
The study suggested that further studies are needed on the bioactive compounds of corn as related to health.
High-fructose corn syrup is a sweetener made from corn. It’s commonly found in processed foods. Although, high-fructose corn syrup may not raise blood sugar levels as much as regular sugar does, it doesn’t stimulate the release of insulin, leaving people with diabetes in need of insulin to regulate blood sugar.
High-fructose corn syrup can also lead to leptin resistance. According to the Journal of Endocrinology, the hormone leptin triggers satiety, letting your brain know that the body doesn’t need to eat and to burn calories at a normal rate.
Eating corn has some benefits, but it’s important to understand how its high level of carbohydrates can raise blood glucose and impact how you manage your diabetes.
Although not everyone with diabetes reacts the same way to certain foods, following dietary guidelines and tracking what you eat can help.