Comfort foods have been top-of-mind with the stresses piling on lately. High stress in combination with stay-at-home orders has everyone reaching for their favorites – ice cream, pasta, bread, chocolate and in looking for some healthier options, many people have asked about popcorn and corn chips, are they any better? 

Corn, while quite delicious, has many strikes against it. You might think of it as a vegetable (when you eat it off the cob) or as a grain (like popcorn) which makes it confusing too. 

Here’s some food for thought: 

  • Corn is high in lectins – corn is high in toxic lectins which are hard to digest and can damage the gut lining. They can also stimulate the immune system, leading to bigger problems.
  • Corn is a high carbohydrate food – corn and corn products are starchy and high in carbohydrates, not appropriate for low carb or keto diets (and. becaues it’s technically a grain, it’s avoided on a Paleo diet too). 
  • Corn is often genetically modified – approximately 90%+ corn in the US is genetically modified. If you are buying processed foods ~75% of them have some corn derivative (like HFCS or cornstarch) not to mention factory farmed cows are eating GMO corn, which is then ingested by us.

Does this mean you must avoid corn at all costs? It really depends. If you have gut issues or illnesses caused or made worse by gut issues (autoimmunity for example), it will serve you to avoid corn, at least while your gut is healing. If you are carbohydrate sensitive, add corn to the list. If you have a happy, healthy gut and feel like carbs are not a problem for you, then some organic fresh corn in the summer, organic home -popped corn occasionally, or a handful of organic corn chips will most likely be fine for you. 

But in general, corn has enough bad characteristics to avoid it most of the time. There are some great alternatives these days – look for grain-free chips or tortillas like the Siete brand to satisfy your cravings. Using these alternatives are a great way to have chips and guacamole or tacos without compromising your ideal diet.

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