While corn is a staple vegetable for many people, some may worry about the effects of eating corn and being diabetic. Fortunately for people with diabetes, corn is a nutrient-rich food classified as a starch on the Diabetes Food Pyramid, along with grains, potatoes, peas and beans. With a glycemic index (GI) of 42, corn is also classified as a low-GI food, meaning that corn raises blood sugar by a relatively small amount. The healthy effects of eating corn may be negated, however, by consuming the wrong type of corn products.
One of the most important links between corn and diabetes is the high level of pantothenic acid found in corn. A B vitamin used in processing carbohydrates and protein, pantothenic acid is important for helping people with diabetes maintain a healthy weight through improved metabolic function and for managing blood sugar levels.
Improved Heart Health
Another one of the major healthy effects of eating corn is a decreased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke associated with folate, another nutrient found in corn. A cup of corn contains 19 percent of the recommended daily value for folate intake.
Improved Digestive Health
Fiber in corn and other starches is an important part of nutrition and overall digestive health for people with diabetes. The high levels of folate found in corn that make corn a heart-healthy food also contribute to digestive health as well, with folate offering a lower risk of colon cancer as one of the benefits of eating corn.
High Levels of Sodium and Fat
Eating canned corn with salt added, or adding table salt and butter to fresh corn, can cause people with diabetes to unconsciously consume unhealthy amounts of sodium and fat when eating corn with a meal. Butter and other fats should be eaten sparingly in a nutritious diet, so adding them to corn and other starches reduces the healthy benefits.
High Blood Sugar and Appetite
The most common negative effects of eating corn products come from high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener made from corn and commonly found in processed foods. A combination of glucose and fructose, high fructose corn syrup may not raise blood sugar levels as much as regular sugar does, but unlike glucose, fructose does not stimulate the release of insulin or the hormone leptin, which triggers satiety. High fructose corn syrup, then, leaves people with diabetes in need of insulin to regulate blood sugar and unsatisfied with their meal or snack, resulting in the possibility of overeating.