Corn: A Delicious Summer Food for Your Longevity

Corn is a late summer staple that may conjure up the smell of sweet cooking cobs on the BBQ or fresh yellow kernels brightening up a summer salad. It is also a food with plenty of benefits for your health and longevity! Find out what corn can do for you—and learn a new tasty corn summer recipe that gives you a use for those beautiful squash flowers growing in the garden.

In my newest book, Secrets of Longevity Cookbook, I list corn as one of the top ten foods for health and longevity. How did I go about putting this list together? During my twenty-five years of studying centenarians, I discovered that the same ten foods kept showing up again and again in the diets of long-living individuals, and corn showed up in a variety of dishes across the world. This is the eighth article in my monthly series that highlights these top ten longevity foods. If you’re just catching up, check out the longevity benefits of black beans, walnuts, sweet potatoes, peanuts, green tea, seaweed, and sesame seeds!

Corn: Ancient Health-Giving Kernels

When I talk about corn, I am not talking about high fructose corn syrup or corn flakes! I am talking about freshly grown corn that you can pick up at the farmer’s market and throw on the grill or cut off the cob to lightly sauté with fresh herbs.

Corn is an ancient crop, called mahiz, or “that which sustains us” by the North American indigenous people. Cooling in nature, corn is considered by traditional Chinese medicine to lower blood pressure, detoxify, and aid in the treatment of gallstones. Corn has heart-protective properties due to its fiber and high folate (vitamin B9) content. Folate also protects against colon cancer. Additionally, the thiamin (vitamin B1) is thought to defend against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.

These days, when the subject of corn comes up, it inevitably brings up the question of GMO crops, as much of the corn grown in this country is genetically modified. I personally prefer to avoid eat GMOs until time has proven their safety. My article next week will delve more into this topic, so stay tuned if you want more info! In the meantime, my recommendation is to choose fresh organic corn grown from as local a source as possible. In a bind, organic frozen corn is a good option. Find out more about the origin of corn and how it benefits your health in The Natural Health Dictionary.

Tasty Rosemary Millet with Yellow Split Peas and Zucchini Flowers

A vendor at the farmer’s market where I buy zucchini flowers shared this recipe with me. He alleged that it came from his grandmother who was almost ninety years of age. The nutritious millet is paired with yellow split peas, which are no longevity slouch! They contain high levels of tryptophan to help support healthy sleep and balanced moods. Dress it up with beautiful zucchini flowers and rosemary, which stimulates your brain’s activity—and you’ve got a recipe that promotes happiness.  

  • 1 cup millet
  • 1/2 cup yellow split peas
  • 1/2 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
  • 4–8 zucchini flowers

1. Put the millet and split peas into a saucepan, add 3-1/2 cups water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

2. Stir the corn into the millet, cover, and continue cooking for an additional 30 minutes, adding a little water to the pan if necessary.

3. When the split peas are tender, remove the pan from the heat, stir in the coconut oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and mix well. Ladle the millet into bowls and garnish with rosemary and one or two zucchini flowers on top. Serves 4.

You can find plenty more tasty and creative recipes for long and healthy living in Secrets of Longevity Cookbook, a great companion book to my Secrets of Longevity: Hundreds of Ways to Live to Be 100, which is now available on Kindle.

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May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

—Dr. Mao

This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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To purchase Dr. Mao's new book, "Secrets of Longevity Cookbook", click here.

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