The health benefits of corn or maize for kids include good supply of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, acts as a natural laxative and it is good for eyesight.
Maize or corn is one of world’s oldest grains. The indigenous people from Central America are believed to have been the first to cultivate this plant for its grains. The native American word for maize means that which sustains life. Maize was a very important crop for the Mayans and Aztecs not only in their nutrition but it also played a great role in their cultural and religious activities as well. From central America, maize or corn spread to the whole world. Now it is the third largest cereal after rice and wheat.
Maize or corn has been known to be a highly cultivable crop around the world. It has been noted that it can be grown in almost any soil and almost in any weather condition. The world production of maize stood at 800 million tons, out of which the United States produced about 333 million tons, China produced 163 million tons and followed by Brazil with 51 million.
Nutrition in Maize
According to the National Nutrient Database from the United States Department of Agriculture, the nutrition found in maize includes
|Nutrition||Value per 100 g||Nutrition||Value per 100 g|
|Water||76 g||Energy||86 kcal|
|Protein||3.27 g||Total Lipid||1.35 g|
|Carbohydrate||18.7 g||Fiber||2 g|
|Sugar||6.26 g||Calcium||2 mg|
|Iron||0.52 mg||Magnesium||37 mg|
|Phosphorous||89 mg||Potassium||270 mg|
|Sodium||15 mg||Zinc||0.46 mg|
|Vitamin C||6.8 mg||Thiamin||0.155 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.055 mg||Niacin||1.77 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.093 mg||Folate||42 ug|
|Vitamin A||187 IU||Vitamin E||0.07 mg|
|Vitamin K||0.3 mg|
Can maize be served to my baby?
Corn or maize is perhaps not the first food intended for babies. There is also a risk of introducing corn to babies, as it can induce allergies. If your family has a history of food allergies, then wait until your baby is at least 1 year of age. Moreover, do not give corn seeds, as there is a high risk of choking. Only after your baby’s teething process is complete and if he or she is able to chew the food properly, that is perhaps, the good time to introduce corn seeds. Until then, you can serve dishes made from corn flour. The flour can be difficult for your baby to digest at first. So, hold off introducing even corn flour until your baby’s digestion has improved.
Health benefits of corn or maize for kids
Here are some of the health benefits of introducing corn to your kids
Good source of vitamins: Like other cereals, corn is also a good source of vitamins, especially B complex vitamins. Vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, folate, etc can be found in corn. These vitamins play a vital role in the development of your child. Thiamin is good for maintaining nerves and brain development. Niacin is helpful in metabolizing sugars, proteins and fatty acids. Folate is helpful in maintaining new cells and reduces the risk of anemia. Other vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin K and vitamin E are also found in corn.
Supply of essential minerals: Corn or maize is also a good source of minerals as well. Essential minerals such as phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, zinc, iron and trace elements such as selenium are also found in corn. Phosphorous is good for bone health apart from calcium. Potassium is a better electrolyte when compared to sodium and iron is useful in making hemoglobin.
Good source of antioxidants: The seeds of maize have shown to be positive for antioxidant activity. These antioxidants are much needed by our body, even for kids. As free radicals develop in our body, they have a damaging effect on our body by means of tissue and DNA damage. This damage can be reduced by taking food filled with antioxidants. Antioxidants counter act free radicals and neutralize them. (Kravic, et al, 2009).
Natural laxative: Corn seeds act as good natural laxative. These can be given regularly to those who suffer from constipation. Or else, corn flour can be given, but make sure that it is whole corn flour and not refined corn flour.
Good for eyesight: The yellow colored seeds of corn are very good for eyesight. This yellow color comes from a biochemical known as zeaxanthin. This biochemical has been known to improve eyesight, not only for aging people, but it is also good for children, as consuming it from an early age acts as a protector of eyesight. (Sommerburg, et al, 1998).
Measures to be taken while giving corn to your kids
Here are some measures that can be taken while serving corn to your kids.
How to buy and store corn: If you’re planning to buy corn seeds and store them, then you have to store them in cold places. Heat converts the sugars in corn seeds to starch very quickly. Keep them away from direct sunlight. Buying fresh corn with husks on is better than wilted.
While serving to your kids: When you’re serving corn seeds to kids, make sure that you boil them or at least roast them for 5-10 minutes, before giving it your kids. Raw corn seeds can be little tough for your kids to digest. Also instruct them to chew corn seeds thoroughly before swallowing as intact corn seeds can cause choking.
Buy only whole corn flour: Whole corn flour, just like whole wheat flour or whole rice, is a better option when compared to refined flours. Refined flours do not contain any fiber and just add empty calories to your food. Also, the outer layer of fiber or the bran contains all the vitamins and minerals.
Lookout for allergies: Last, but not the least, corn can induce allergic symptoms in your baby. So, when giving it for the first time, please be on the lookout for allergic reactions. If you spot any allergies, contact your pediatrician immediately, without any delay.