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Corn 101

Popped or on the cob, corn will do your body good.

WHY YOU NEED IT:
* It's good for your eyes. Lutein and zeaxanthin, the pigments that provide corn with its deep-golden hue, also protect your peepers against disease. These carotenoids accumulate in the macula, the part of the eye that allows for sharp central vision, and help to keep your eyes healthy.

* Corn may KO cancer. When you cook corn, you unleash a potent cancer-fighting compound called ferulic acid within those tiny yellow kernels.

* It makes you smarter. Eating an ear or two a week may ensure better performance on the Sunday crossword puzzle. That's because corn is an excellent source of thiamine, a B vitamin required for the production of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which cells in the brain need to store and retrieve information.

* It'll keep your bones strong and your synapses firing. A large ear of corn contains about 10% of a guy's daily quota of manganese, a mineral required for bone strength, nervous system functioning, and energy production.

* Corn contains resistant starch, a type of carb that dodges digestion in the small intestine and becomes a food source for "good" bacteria in the large intestine. This process also reads to the creation of butyrate, a fatty acid that shows promise for preventing colon cancer and reducing inflammation. All this, for just 150 calories per serving.

HOW TO BUY IT:
Pick ears of corn that have green husks (and don't appear excessively dried out). For the juiciest kernels, skip cobs that lack husks, as shucking far in advance of eating causes water loss. Before buying, examine the kernels by pulling back part of the husk; they should be bright yellow, plump, and tightly arranged in rows. For maximum flavor, use fresh corn immediately. You can also refrigerate ears for several days, peeling only when ready to cook. When it's time to eat, boil whole ears in unsalted water for approximately 4 minutes.

UPGRADE:
If you're tired of the standard boiled ear of sweet corn, try tossing a few cobs on the grill. Slip some fresh basil or cilantro leaves under husks and place the whole thing over hot coals—not direct flames—for 15 to 20 minutes. (You can also roast whole ears in the oven at 450 degrees F.) When corn is done, remove the charred husk and silk and devour.

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