Is Corn a Vegetable, Grain or Fruit?

Is there anyone in the world who doesn’t like eating corn? If surprisingly there is, it seems impossible to watch movies without popcorns. And popcorn is made of corn. Viola!

Popped kernels are not the only favorite snack made out of corn. Being a diet staple for several populations, it is usually eaten as a side dish and sometimes used in soups and pizzas. We can say, it is used regularly in our homes for cooking Italian, Spanish or American dishes. But, do you know what corn is? Is corn a vegetable or a grain?

We will get to that question but let’s start with some usual information that you must know about corn.

Most popular types of corn

There is a large variety of corn available, but these three are the most commonly used, cooked, and eaten.

1. Sweet corn

2. Field corn or dent corn (generally used at farm for feeding livestock)

3. Indian corn or flint corn (used for decoration or to make popcorns)

Is corn a fruit or vegetable – or a grain?

If you think, this question can easily be solved, you are mistaken. Although it is one of the most frequently asked questions about corn but very less is known. Everyone is confused about whether it is a fruit or should we call it a vegetable because of its use. But, wait, doesn’t it look like it is from a grain family?

We all agree on a fact that corn comes with a broad range of applications and this query needs to be solved.

So, the answer is “CORN IS A FRUIT, A VEGETABLE, AND A WHOLE GRAIN!”.

How? We will get into details but as simple as we can say, if the corn is fresh you can call it a vegetable, and if you are using dried corn or eating popcorn, classify corn as a grain.

Multiple factors help you determine what corn is actually, for instance, the country you are standing in and the type of corn product you are cooking with. But as it is a versatile product, it surprisingly fits into all three major categories.

Based on when it is harvested

To simply explain the difference between a corn vegetable and corn grain, we can classify them based on their time of harvesting.

Grain – If you have harvested the corn in their completely matured and fully dried stage. Typically used for cornmeal, corn tortillas, and cornbread. The most popular example is popcorns.

Vegetable – If corns are harvested when fresh, soft, and kernels are full of liquid that includes the corn on the cob or frozen corn kernels. Typically eaten on the cob or as a side dish served with other vegetables.

Bonus: While harvesting corn, always check the level of corn maturity as it will be affecting not only its nutritive value but also the possible ways of using corn in meals.

Corn – a healthy grain option

If we focus on science, corn is a caryopsis. For those who don’t know, it is a type of fruit where you will get the pericarp tightly fused or conjoined with a seed coat. Adding to your surprise, the common name of caryopses is grains. More specifically, corn is a whole grain.

Corn – a healthy fruit

Do you know wheat, millet, and oats fall to both categories of fruits and grains because in reality GRAINS THEMSELVES ARE THE TYPE OF FRUITS?! It means corn is not only grain but also fruit.

From another prospect, popcorn is also the fruit. Why? Due to their origin from the seed or flower part of the plant.

Corn – a health vegetable

As we said earlier, the fresher the corn, the more likely it will be classified as a vegetable. Considered a starchy vegetable, it must not be consumed by the diabetic patient.

Girl (2-4) eating ear of corn, close-up, portrait

Uses of corn – Nutritional overview

No matter how you eat the corn, on a cob, in a salad, mixed with veggies, in junk food, or popcorns, they will provide nourishment because they have a similar composition with a slight difference. Moreover, corn is a whole grain and we cannot deny the fact that whole grains are one of the most nutrient-rich groups.

Why is corn the best source of antioxidants? They are excessively high in vitamin A. Apart from vitamin A, it has a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. You can get a satisfactory amount of fiber, too. Its composition being a starchy vegetable means it will be high in sugar. But that is not the case. It is found to be low in sugar, fat, and sodium.

They are the great source of:

Protein

Fiber

Copper

Zinc

Vitamin B (B6 and B3)

Potassium

What advantages are provided by this nutritious item? There is a whole list of its health benefits but the major are:

Lutein and Zeaxanthin improves eye health

Delivers beneficial antioxidants to your system

Lowers the risk of diverticular disease

High fiber content manages LDL (lessens)

Bottom line

If we sum up, the corn is all three. A vegetable due to its taste, whole grain, and fruit based on how it grows. And if we need to classify it in one category, science needs to do more extensive research. Well, no matter in what form you are consuming it, corn is beneficial for your health.