March 29, 2009

You Ask, I Answer: Food Pyramid

Do corn and potatoes fall into the "grains" or "vegetable" category in the food pyramid?

-- Tom O'Farrell

Boston, MA

As far as the United States Department of Agriculture is concerned, potatoes and corn are members of the vegetable group.

Remember, the food pyramid categorizes foods by nutrient profile.

Although corn and potatoes are higher in carbohydrates than other vegetables, their vitamin, mineral, and phytonutrient content is more similar to that of vegetables than grains (we are talking about corn-on-the-cob and baked potatoes here, not Fritos and Pringles!)

I understand the USDA's decision from a simplicity standpoint, but it is not completely accurate in the case of corn, which is both a vegetable AND a grain, depending on how it is harvested.

Although most people associate corn with processed junk (where it either shows up as high fructose corn syrup or corn oil in ingredient lists), it offers a good amount of nutrition when eaten fresh (off the cob) or simply popped and sprinkled with a little salt, parmesan cheese, or nutritional yeast for flavoring.

For what it's worth, a large ear of corn contributes 127 calories -- along with vitamin C, phosphorus, manganese, potassium, and most of the B vitamins -- to your day.


Anonymous said...

I've recently tried popped corn with nutritional yeast sprinkled on it...very good! I used a little Bragg Liquid aminos to moisten the popcorn instead of butter so that the nootch would adhere.

Andy Bellatti said...

Sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing.