Nutrition is obviously a very important part of my job as a Veterinarian. I recently changed our sign at the road to read: "Corn is an essential nutrient.". My hope was this it would stimulate some good converstaion regarding the ingredient, and actually how great it really is. After receiving an inappropriate email from a passerby of the clinic, regarding our sign, I thought it necessary to spread the word! I have I always thought that diets/nutrition can definitely be a source of tension. I guess I just didn't realize how much!
I am very passionate about ensuring that my patients live a long, happy, and healthy life. Nutrition plays a big part in this. I feel that there is a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to what is deemed appropriate, necessary, and essential for our pets to eat. Corn is one of the biggest debates out there. SO! Here are some things about corn, that you may not have known before...
We will start with the basics. Most pet food companies will use a wet milling process to separate the whole corn kernel into three components: starch (for carbohydrate), fiber, and protein. The protein component becomes corn gluten meal, which I will elaborate on below.
Corn is actually an excellent source of many nutrients. It provides a good source of carbohydrates, protein, and essential fatty acids. When we talk about corn, we are talking about its many forms. For instance, “corn gluten meal” contains 60 to 70% protein, as well as essential amino acids. In case you don’t have a science background, amino acids are actually the building blocks of protein, which make corn gluten meal even more valuable. It is commonly thought that meat provides most of the protein in a diet. However, corn is actually anywhere between 8-10% more digestible than meat, and may not contain all of the appropriate amino acids to build protein. This is where corn comes in. It is a natural plant protein source to ensure that all of the essential amino acids have been delivered to your pet.
Corn is also the ONLY GRAIN to contain linoleic acid. In case you are not aware, linoleic acid is an essential amino acid that is REQUIRED by both dogs and cats for healthy skin and hair.
Corn also contains an abundant amount of antioxidants, such as Vitamin E and beta-carotene. Antioxidants help to reduce cell damage. Corn oil is actually a more effective antioxidant than sunflower OR olive oil.
The other BONUS of corn, is that corn gluten meal is actually very easy for our animal friends to digest, making the nutrients readily available to them. Corn is THE MOST DIGESTIBLE OF ANY GRAIN. The higher the digestibility, the better J. Whole corn or corn meal also provides highly digestible carbohydrates as an energy source. It actually contains over 75% carbohydrate….that is a lot! It also contains 10% protein and 4.3% fat.
Poor corn has also incorrectly been thought to be a big source of food allergies in pets. Corn actually has a lower antigenicity than beef, chicken, wheat, soy, eggs, and milk!!
Can I tell you a secret? Most pet food companies have realized that the majority of the population thinks that corn is bad, so they have decided to make it a marketing move. They are relying on this fact to sell food! AND its working :(.
If you require any further information, please let me know. I love questions! Part of my job as a veterinarian is educating pet owners on essential information, to ensure that their pets live a long, happy and healthy life!