Science, Sweet Corn and Diabetes – Research in the Making

Food scientists are constantly exploring how to make foods taste better, digest easier, grow with fewer fertilizers, etc. We recently learned that a team of scientists at Iowa State University is working with the starches in sweet corn to try to create a response in the body that modify the starch to digest more slowly… which creates a more moderate insulin response, and release of glucose into the blood stream. This is important to the U.S.’s diabetic population of more than 21 million individuals, since moderating insulin and glucose through diet and medication is a constant need.

This research has been in the works for the last 15 years. Iowa State scientists have been looking at the genes, examining their make-up, splicing and moving things around, and developing corn seed with the modified starch. These seeds grow new corn and the starch from those kernels is then examined to determine how the starch breaks down with enzymes as well as with human test subjects. Their blood glucose levels are measured to determine how slowly the starch is digested.

“We have an obesity epidemic… the number one disease that goes along with obesity is Type 2 Diabetes,” said Dr. Suzanne Hendrich. “Being able to help those folks maintain better control of their blood sugar is going to protect them from all those bad consequences that can happen if you have too high levels of blood glucose over time.”

Check out this video about Sweet Corn Research in Iowa to see the progress being made.

Corn on the Cob” by Andrew Malone is licensed under CC BY.