I used to be amused when my relatives would come visit from Europe and make fun of American food. They have an expression that doesn’t translate particularly well but in essence means that everything in America is made from corn. Sadly, it’s true; corn is in everything from fireworks to printing inks. It’s in more than 90% of the products sold by most supermarkets.

My relatives also look at all of the ingredients on food labels.  I thought it was the weirdest habit. It’s a habit I’ve taken up now that I understand how much food manufacturers overuse corn, as well as other ingredients.

Corny ingredients

Many of us recognize the main corn product used as sweetener, which is high fructose corn syrup. But many other ingredients derived from it do not have corn in the name. Corn products include: cornstarch, modified starches, dextrins, cyclodextrins, maltodextryns, glucose (also called dextrose), crystalline fructose, corn oil, corn gluten feed, corn gluten meal, germ meal (sometimes just called germ), steapwater, ethanol, organic acids, amino acids, polyols and xantham gum.

Even hominy and grits are just processed corn!

A grain of corn


As the diagram shows, a grain of corn has a small amount of fiber on the outside that covers the mostly starchy and glutenous inside. However, many of the corn derivatives used in processed foods have stripped the hull and fiber off of the corn.  This fiber is the only part of corn that is actually useful to our digestive health! And most of us eat too many starches because they are the primary inputs for processed foods.  Not to mention that many of the animals we eat were primarily fed corn. Even cows benefit from a high fiber, low starch diet. [1]

Because diversity is key to satiation and nutritional balance, we should strive to avoid these proliferous corn ingredients. And because corn is in most processed foods, the more single-ingredient foods we choose to eat the better.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *