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Nutrients Provided by Corn

Fortunately, a true allergy to corn is very rare. Corn elimination diets are very difficult to live with because corn and corn products are in most of our food products, mostly as corn sweeteners or cornstarch. Like soybean restriction, the effects of a corn restriction on nutrient intake is mostly due to the other food products which are restricted, not by the nutrients in corn. If you are on a strict corn-free diet, you may want to have the diet evaluated to be sure all the necessary nutrients are being supplied.

Corn provides the following nutrients:

  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Chromium
  • Niacin
  • Iron (via fortification of corn products)

These nutrients, with the exception of chromium, would be found in similar amounts in other grain products such as wheat or rice, thus any other fortified grain could be substituted for corn. Like a wheat restricted diet, many of the commonly available convenience items are eliminated on this diet.

Avoid Sources Containing Corn and Corn Proteins

These "corn words" must be avoided on a corn-restricted diet.

Ingredients Containing Corn

  • Corn
  • Corn flour
  • Corn sweetener
  • Maize Cornmeal
  • Corn starch
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Corn alcohol
  • Baking powder Grits
  • Hominy

Ingredients Which May Contain Corn Proteins

  • Food starch
  • Modified food starch
  • Vegetable gum
  • Vegetable starch
  • Corn Oil - Like soy oil and peanut oil, in the processing of corn oil, the allergenic portion (protein) is removed and therefore the oil is considered safe for corn sensitive people. A small study challenging proven corn-allergic patients with corn oil, corn sugar, and corn syrup showed no reactions. On the other hand, a blinded challenge with cornstarch did show a reaction.

Foods Products Containing Corn

A corn elimination diet would restrict a variety of foods, including:

  • Cereals
  • Baked goods
  • Snack food
  • Syrups
  • Canned fruit beverages
  • Jams
  • Jellies
  • Cookies
  • Lunch meats
  • Candy

Alternative Sweetners, Thickeners and Leavening Agents

If you are on a corn restricted diet, you can use the following as alternative sweeteners, thickeners, and leavening agents:

  • Fruit juices
  • Beet or cane sugar
  • Maple syrup
  • Honey
  • Aspartame
  • Wheat starch
  • Soda
  • Cream of tartar
  • Potato starch
  • Rice starch
  • Tapioca

You may be able to find some "convenience" foods which have either eliminated sugar from the food or have substituted an allowed sweetener such as natural fruit juices or honey. Health food stores usually carry a variety of backed goods and some candies which are made with allowed ingredients. You can also use homemade foods made with allowed ingredients.

Contact Information

Allergy and Inflammation - Research
Department of Medicine
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Center for Life Science, 9th floor
330 Brookline Avenue
Boston, MA 02215