Corn and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Last Updated on by Kari Garner, MS RDN LD CDCES

While corn can be part of a diabetes-friendly diet, it is crucial for individuals with diabetes to be mindful of portion sizes and preparation methods. 

Today, the focus is bringing you the facts (and delicious recipes!) to guide you on how to successfully incorporate corn into your meals, if desired. 

Pairing corn with other high fiber foods, lean proteins and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels while allowing you to enjoy fresh, frozen or canned corn. 

For those with diabetes, knowledge of the nutritional content and impact of corn is key to incorporating corn into a balanced meal plan. 

What is Diabetes?

Type 1

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune condition that impacts the body’s ability to regulate blood sugars. While typically diagnosed in childhood or adolescence, type 1 can develop at any age. 

In type 1 diabetes, the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas.  This leads to a deficiency of insulin, the hormone that regulate blood sugar levels. 

As a result, individuals must rely on daily insulin injections or pump therapy to deliver insulin for proper management of blood sugar levels. 

Prediabetes and Type 2

Prediabetes and type 2 diabetes mellitus are conditions where you do not have enough insulin production to control your blood sugars within normal limits for optimal health.

Similar to Type 1, it is the role of your pancreas to produce insulin for your body, which can move into your bloodstream when your blood sugars are elevated (like after eating a meal or a stressful situation).

With prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, your body is not able to move this insulin into your bloodstream to reduce elevated blood sugars effectively. However, your pancreas continues to produce the insulin because your blood sugar remains elevated.

Eventually, the cells of the pancreas can wear out due to high insulin production and can stop producing insulin. When this happens, you cannot reverse the damage and other methods of managing blood sugars are needed.

With proper blood sugar control, you can prevent this progression and manage the condition effectively to live a healthy life. 

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) is a condition that can develop in women during pregnancy who do not already have diabetes.

It is when your body cannot produce or use insulin effectively during pregnancy, resulting in a state of chronic high blood sugars that can be harmful to both the mother and child.

GDM is often a symptom of underlying β-cell dysfunction, which is why you will see the increased risk of the mother and child developing diabetes later in life. B-cells or beta cells are cells located in the pancreas that are responsible for the storage, production and release of insulin.

With proper management through lifestyle changes, most women with gestational diabetes can maintain healthy blood sugar levels and deliver a healthy baby. 

Corn and Diabetes

Now that we have the basics covered, let’s dive into answering is corn good for diabetes. 

This is a very hot topic because there is a TON of misconceptions that corn is “bad” or should be avoided completely when living with diabetes. 

The information provided is meant to be educational, so you have the facts to make the best choices for your lifestyle. While I answer some of the most common frequently asked questions, you can also submit your question by contacting me

Does Corn Raise Blood Sugar?

The short answer is yes, corn can raise blood sugar levels because it is a starchy vegetable. Starchy vegetables such as corn, peas and potatoes are composed of complex carbohydrates. 

When you consume carbohydrates, your body will break them down into glucose for energy, which enters your bloodstream. 

The impact on blood sugar varies depending on factors such as serving size, preparation method and what you serve with corn. For example, consuming 2 cups of corn is likely to raise blood sugars more than a ½ cup portion of corn. 

What is the Nutritional Profile of Corn?

Corn does offer a diverse nutritional profile and an array of health benefits with a range of essential vitamins and minerals. Here is an overview:

  • Carbohydrates: As mentioned, corn is primarily composed of carbohydrates to provide the body with a source of energy. The amount of carbohydrates can vary. For example, 1 cup of frozen corn has about 20 grams carbs while 1 cup of popcorn has about 6 grams of carbohydrates. 
  • Fiber: Corn contains both soluble and insoluble fiber for digestive health and aid in regulating blood sugar levels. It also contributes to a feeling of fullness, which can be helpful for weight management. 
  • Vitamins and Minerals: Corn is a good source of vitamin C, folate, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium. 
  • Antioxidants: Containing various antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin, corn is beneficial for eye health. 

Fresh, Frozen or Canned Corn?

Fresh, frozen or canned corn are all options that can be enjoyed by individuals with diabetes. To choose the best option, consider if any added ingredients are in the product and the level of convenience you are seeking.

With fresh corn, you have control over how it is prepared.  It is likely to contain less sugar or salt. It also has the freshest taste and texture compared to other varieties. 

Frozen corn has a similar nutrient profile to fresh, yet it can be more convenient and available year-round. Plus, there is no need for shucking. If purchasing frozen, be cautious of any added ingredients such as salt or sauces. 

Canned corn is convenient with a longer shelf life; however, it often contains added salt. If purchasing, look for low sodium or no salt added options to minimize excess salt consumption. 

How to Enjoy Corn if you have Diabetes!

I love collaborating with fellow dietitians to bring you all a wide variety of recipes. 

You’ll also find Healthy Sweet Snacks for Diabetes and Healthy Savory Snacks for Diabetes On The Blog. You’ll find delicious & nutritious snacks all created by nutrition experts!

Aim to try each of these easy corn recipes featuring nutrient-rich ingredients. Each one includes fiber, protein and fat or can easily be paired with the missing nutrient for a balanced option with blood sugar benefits.

Corn Recipes

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Flourish with Diabetes!

If you are ready to take the leap and transform your health, check out my Resources Page. I can help you grow & flourish with diabetes!

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Certified Diabetes Care & Education Specialist/ Registered Dietitian/ Owner / Springtime Nutrition, LLC

Kari is a diabetes expert with more than 18 years of experience. Kari currently works as a diabetes educator with a large hospital system in Charleston, SC and is committed to improving the lives of people with any type of diabetes.

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