Corn is a tasty and nutritious vegetable that can be a healthy addition to your diet. But when enjoying corn on the cob, a common question is how many calories are in a whole ear of corn? Here’s a thorough breakdown of the calorie and nutrition facts for an entire ear of corn.
A medium-sized, boiled ear of corn without any butter or oil added contains around 127 calories.
Calories in Different Sizes of Ears of Corn
Since ears of corn come in different sizes, the number of calories per ear can vary. Here are the typical calorie counts for different ear sizes:
|Small (5-5.5 inches long)||92 calories|
|Medium (6-7 inches long)||127 calories|
|Large (7-8 inches long)||161 calories|
As you can see, a larger ear of corn has more calories since it contains more corn kernels. The calorie counts above are for plain boiled corn without any added butter, salt, or other seasonings.
Calories in Corn Kernels vs. Cob
An ear of corn contains two main edible parts: the corn kernels and the cob. Interestingly, nearly all the calories come from the kernels, while the cob is very low in calories.
Here is the calorie breakdown for a medium-sized ear of corn:
- Corn kernels: 123 calories
- Corn cob: 4 calories
So when calculating calories in corn on the cob, you mainly just need to consider the calories from the kernels themselves. The cob is mostly fiber and water, with minimal effects on overall calorie content.
Factors That Impact Calorie Content
Several factors impact the calorie content in an ear of corn:
1. How It’s Cooked
How the corn is cooked and prepared makes a significant difference in calorie content. Here’s how the calories compare for a medium-sized ear prepared different ways:
- Raw: 103 calories
- Boiled: 127 calories
- Grilled: 134 calories
- Microwaved: 173 calories (with husk)
Boiling and grilling only add a small amount of calories. But microwaving causes the kernels to lose moisture and shrink, concentrating the calories in a smaller portion of kernels. So microwaved corn ends up with more calories for a given ear size.
2. Added Butter and Oil
Slathering your corn with butter, margarine, oil, or other toppings adds substantial calories. For example:
- 1 tbsp butter: 102 calories
- 1 tbsp margarine: 102 calories
- 1 tbsp olive oil: 119 calories
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise: 94 calories
Just a couple tablespoons of your favorite topping can nearly double the total calorie count of your ear of corn.
3. Husk or No Husk
Leaving the husk on or off while cooking changes the moisture content and calories:
- Husk on: 173 calories (microwaved)
- Husk off: 153 calories (microwaved)
The husk traps in moisture and steam while cooking. So microwaved corn cooked with the husk on ends up more moist and higher in calories than corn microwaved without the husk.
Corn Nutrition Facts
In addition to calories, corn also provides many beneficial nutrients like carbs, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Be sure to also keep these nutrition facts in mind when enjoying an ear of corn:
- Carbs: 29 grams per medium ear
- Protein: 4 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugars: 5 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Vitamin C: 10% RDA
- Folate: 7% RDA
- Magnesium: 6% RDA
- Phosphorus: 6% RDA
Corn is high in carbohydrates, accounting for most of its calories. It also provides fiber, vitamins, minerals, and plant-based protein. Many of these nutrients are found in the corn kernels, while the cob mostly provides fiber.
Popcorn is a special form of corn that expands and puffs up when heated. It’s lower in calories than regular corn on the cob due to its low density. Here are popcorn nutrition facts:
- Calories per cup of air-popped popcorn: 31
- Calories per cup, oil-popped: 55
- Fiber per cup: 1 gram
- Carbs: 6 grams per cup
- Fat: 0.5 grams (air-popped)
By choosing air-popped popcorn without oil or butter, you can enjoy a large portion with a fairly low calorie count. Oil-popped and microwave popcorn can be higher in calories due to added fats and flavorings, but still provide a more nutritious snack than many alternative options.
Freezing corn is a great way to preserve fresh-picked flavor year round. Here’s how freezing affects nutrition and calories for an ear of corn:
- Calories: No significant change after freezing and thawing
- Vitamin C: Loses 30-40% after 1 year frozen
- Fiber: No change
- Beta-carotene: No change
The main nutrient that declines with freezing is vitamin C. However, frozen corn still retains most of its original nutritional value. It makes an excellent substitute for fresh corn on the cob in any season.
Canned corn is a handy pantry staple when fresh corn is out of season. Here is how the calories and nutrition in canned compares to fresh corn:
- Calories: 129 in a 175g serving of canned corn
- Fiber: 2 grams per serving
- Vitamin C: 14% RDA
- Folate: 7% RDA
Canned corn is prepared by pressure cooking then canning right after harvest. This process retains most of corn’s beneficial nutrients. So canned has a similar nutrition profile to cooked fresh corn.
Dried corn, such as that used for hominy or polenta, has a higher calorie count per serving compared to fresh corn. Here’s how it compares:
- Fresh: 127 calories per medium ear
- Dried: 379 calories per 100g serving
Removing the water concentrates the calories and carbs in dried corn. However, it still maintains nearly all the fiber, vitamins, and minerals as fresh corn.
Sweet Corn vs. Field Corn
There are two main varieties of corn: sweet corn and field corn.
Sweet corn is the type typically eaten as corn on the cob, or used for frozen/canned corn. Field corn has a starchy texture and is mainly used for:
- Corn flour
- Animal feed
Here’s how sweet and field corn compare in terms of calories and nutrition:
|Nutrient||Sweet Corn||Field Corn|
|Calories||127 per medium ear||365 per 100g dried|
|Carbs||31g per ear||74g per 100g dried|
Sweet corn is lower in calories and carbs than field corn. It also contains more natural sugars, while field corn has little sugar and more starch. Both types provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Yellow vs. White Corn
The most common corn varieties are yellow and white corn. Here’s how they compare nutritionally:
- Calories: No significant difference
- Beta-carotene: Yellow contains significantly more
- Other antioxidants: Comparable amounts
- Fiber: No difference
- Vitamins/minerals: No difference
The main nutrition difference is that yellow corn kernels contain more antioxidant carotenoids like beta-carotene and lutein. But both varieties offer comparable calories, carbs, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Organic corn is grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Here’s how it compares to conventional corn in terms of nutrition:
- Calories and macronutrients: No significant difference
- Antioxidants: 20-40% higher in organic
- Cadmium: 48% lower levels in organic
- Pesticide residues: Much lower or none in organic
Research shows organic corn contains higher levels of plant nutrients like antioxidants. And it has lower contamination from potential pollutants like heavy metals and pesticide residues.
There are ongoing debates about whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are safe. But in terms of nutrition, GMO corn is essentially equivalent to non-GMO:
- Calories and macronutrients: No significant difference
- Vitamins and minerals: No difference
- Antioxidants: No difference
According to current research, GMO status does not affect the basic nutritional composition of corn. However, more long-term studies are still needed on potential health effects.
Corn allergies are not very common but can occur. Reactions are usually mild, including:
- Digestive problems
In rare cases, a corn allergy can trigger a life-threatening anaphylactic reaction. If you experience severe allergy symptoms after consuming corn, see a doctor immediately.
Corn can be part of a healthy weight loss diet. It provides satiating fiber and nutrients with a moderate calorie count. Some tips for enjoying corn on a diet:
- Avoid added butter and oils to reduce calories
- Eat it as a starchy vegetable instead of grains
- Choose steamed or grilled instead of microwaved
- Add spices instead of oils for flavor
Due to its high fiber and water content, corn helps you feel full on fewer calories than many other starchy foods. So enjoy it as part of a balanced, portion-controlled diet for healthy weight loss.
Corn is very versatile in recipes. You can enjoy it right off the cob or incorporate it into soups, salads, casseroles, and more. Here are some nutritious recipe ideas:
- Chicken corn chowder
- Creamy corn soup
- Minestrone with corn
- Corn salsa salad
- Corn and avocado salad
- Grilled corn salad
Casseroles and Stuffing
- Cornbread casserole
- Corn souffle
- Cornbread and sausage stuffing
- Baked corn fritters
- Mexican corn skewers
- Corn guacamole
You can also simply enjoy corn on the cob with a drizzle of olive oil and spices for a healthy side dish. It brings great flavor and nutrition to any meal.
Is Corn Good for You?
Yes, corn is very healthy and nutritious overall. Some of its top health benefits include:
- High in antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin
- Rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- May help reduce cancer risk
- Contains plant-based protein
- Low glycemic index benefits
Moderate portions of corn provide lots of nutrition without spiking blood sugar. It also promotes feelings of fullness and can aid digestion. So corn is highly nutritious both on and off the cob.
An entire ear of corn contains around 100-175 calories, depending on the size. The majority of corn’s calories, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are found in the kernels, while the cob provides fiber. Corn offers great nutrition and many health benefits without lots of calories, making it a healthy addition to your diet.