Food Allergy to Corn and Corn Ingredients: How to Avoid Eating Corn and Common Terms for Corn
Roughly 35% of the US population, or one in every three people suffer from a food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity to corn.
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Corn is frequently cultivated in crop rotation cycles with soy, because they grow in similar climates.
Like soy, the oil is among the cheapest vegetable oils available on the market today, and it is used in everything from margarine to sports drinks.
Because it is relatively inexpensive as a food additive, and considered “healthy” by many, and can be grown organically, corn is often an ingredient in natural and health-food alternatives.
Finding Corn in Strange Places
Often, gum and vitamins include corn, and hypoallergenic alternatives are frequently a little more expensive.
Corn starch, for its non-stick properties, is often used to line the interiors of paperboard and cardboard containers (and is often undeclared as an ingredient to this kind of food).
Corn meal is frequently used on the bottoms of bread and rolls for the same purpose.
Pure “Corn” Ingredients
The most obvious word to avoid in many ingredients lists is “corn” of course.
Some common ingredients including the word corn are: high fructose corn syrup, corn meal, corn flour, corn masa, corn oil, corn starch, and corn syrup.
The Spanish term “maize” sometimes also refers to corn (though not always) if you aren’t sure, best to steer clear.
Some ingredients that are made from corn, or derived from the corn plant, but may not explicitly say so in allergy information include white vinegar, xanthan gum and vanilla extract.
Corn Sweeteners: Fructose, Dextrose, Glucose, Invert Sugars, Dextrin, Maltodextrin
To the layman, the terms “glucose”, “dextrose” and “fructose” simply refer to basic kinds of digestible sugar. Anything with the suffix “-ose” means that it is a sugar in some form.
Because of the high sugar content already in corn, and its low cost and ready availability, corn syrup is frequently used to convey these sweetening agents into the food.
The vast majority of the time, if ingredients lists do not mention the source of the sweetener as honey, cane or a natural fruit juice, it is probably corn.
Dextrin and Maltodextrin are simple starches that are also frequently corn-derived food additives.
“Monosodium Glutamate” or “MSG” Indicates Corn
While more savvy consumers are avoiding the salty food additive monosodium glutamate, more commonly referred to as MSG, this corn-derived chemical still frequently appears in processed foods, particularly those of Asian origin.
Originally marketed as a flavor enhancer, there are increasing numbers of studies that show that MSG may correlate to the occurrence of health problems such as heart disease, hypertension and obesity.
“Cellulose”, Food starch, and Other Mysteries
Cellulose is the material that creates the water-resistant cell walls on most plants. As such, ingredients lists including “cellulose” could technically be sourced from any plant material.
Sometimes, the manufacturer’s website will list the source plant for cellulose, otherwise, it is safest to steer clear of this vague term.
Because corn is among the least expensive plant sources in the US today, it is safe to assume this is often the source for unspecified terms like this.
Eliminating corn and corn derivatives from a typical diet can be challenging, however it can also be rewarding.
The benefits of eating foods that agree with your body may indeed outweigh the frustration of eliminating prevalent foods like corn.
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