Genetically, it differs from the field corn by mutation at the sugary (su) locus. The crop has achieved success as one of the important commercial cash crop in many tropical and semi-tropical countries.
Sweet corn grows to about 7-10 feet in height. It grows quickly under sunny, fertile, and well-drained soil supplemented with good moisture conditions. Each plant bears about 2-6, long husked ears filled with rows of tooth like seeds surrounding a central woody core (cob). Optimum pollination is essential for full kernel development.
Several different sweet corn cultivars with many variations in their sweetness, color, and maturation time are grown according to the local and regional requirements. Depending upon the cultivar type, the crop may ready for harvesting in 65-90 days. Harvest sweet corn when the silk end of the ear is completely filled out, the silk has turned brown and the kernels are firm but in the milk stage. Oftentimes, farmers check the kernels by pricking them with the thumbnail in order to ascertain timing of harvest.
Baby corns are very young, miniature ears harvested when they are very small. The kernels are in incipient stage and its core is sweet and tender enough to eat raw. Baby corns measure about 3-5 inches in length and weigh about 20-50 g.
Health benefits of sweet corn
- At 86 calories per 100 g, sugar corn kernels are moderately high in calories on comparison to other vegetables. However, fresh kernels have much lower in calories than field corn and other cereals like wheat, rice etc. Their calorie mainly comes from more simple carbohydrates like glucose, sucrose than complex sugars like amylose and amylopectin as in cereals.
- Sweet corn is gluten free cereal and may be used safely much like rice, quinoa etc, in celiac disease individuals.
- Corn features high quality phyto-nutrition profile comprising of dietary fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants in addition to moderate proportions of minerals. It is one of the finest source dietary fibers; 100 g kernels provide 2 g or 5% of daily-requirement of dietary fiber. Together with slow digesting complex carbohydrates, moderate amounts of fiber in the food regulates gradual rise in blood sugar levels.
- Yellow variety corn has significant levels of phenolic flavonoid pigment antioxidants such as ß-carotenes, and lutein, xanthins and cryptoxanthin pigments along with vitamin A. 100 g fresh kernels provide 187 IU or 6% of daily-requirement of vitamin A. Altogether, these compounds are required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes, skin and vision. Consumption of natural foods rich in flavonoids helps to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
- Corn is a good source of phenolic flavonoid antioxidant, ferulic acid. Several research studies suggest that ferulic acid plays vital role in preventing cancers, aging, and inflammation in humans.
- It also contains good levels of some of valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, niacin, pantothenic acid, folates, riboflavin, and pyridoxine. Many of these vitamins functions as co-factors to enzymes in metabolism.
- Further, it contains healthy amounts of some important minerals like zinc, magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese.Source : nutrition-and-you.com