Is corn a vegetable?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Is corn a vegetable?” and provide information on how corn can be a grain, fruit, and vegetable, some types of corn, and the difference between popcorn as well as other corn.

Is corn a vegetable?

Yes, corn is a vegetable. To be more specific, whole corn is a starchy vegetable. However, this does not hold true for corn kernels. 

The corn kernel is considered to be a grain. Popcorn prepared from corn is considered to be a fruit. This is because fruits originate from the seeds of a plant. As a result, corn can be vegetables, fruits, and grains.

How is corn a vegetable?

The 2015-2020 US Dietary Guidelines list corn as both a vegetable and grain. Corn is considered a starchy vegetable because it has higher carbs and calories compared to other veggies. Some other starchy veggies like potatoes and squash have higher calories too.

How is corn a grain?

Corn kernels are considered a grain as it has 3 parts namely, bran, germ, and endosperm. These 3 parts are a part of whole grains. 

Processed food items like corn flour are devoid of germ and bran. They contain only endosperm which makes them less fiber. Consuming whole corn kernels can give sufficient amounts of fiber.

What are some types of corn?

Some types of corn are given below:

  • Dent corn is used to feed cattle. It can also be used to prepare commercial foods. Dent corn can come in white or yellow colors. Often it is referred to as field corn.
  • Flint corn or Indian corn is used for the same purposes as Dent corn. The exterior portion of flint corns is hard whereas their kernels can come in many colors. 
  • Sweet corn is eaten with a cob. It can also be canned or frozen for consumption. Sweet corn contains high amounts of natural sugar. As a result, it is not used for preparing flour or as livestock feed.
  • Flour corn has a softer kernel consisting of starch which makes it preferable to prepare baked foods. It primarily has a white color though you can find them in blue color too.
  • Popcorn is a type of flint corn with a hard exterior and a soft kernel. When corn is exposed to heat, pressure builds up in the kernel causing it to explode. 

This can form a starchy substance called popcorn. All corns have starch but in limited quantities compared to popcorn. As a result, all kinds of popcorn do not explode.

  • Pod corn is a corn kernel that can be enclosed inside husks. It is considered a mutant and not used commercially.

There are corn that can have qualities of flour and flint corn. They cannot specifically fit into one category. 

What is the difference between other kinds of corn and popcorn?

One major difference is that only popcorn pops whereas other corns cannot pop. Popcorns have higher starch levels and are able to trap heat which can cause them to pop.

Popcorn cannot be eaten from the cob by humans. This is because it can be very tough. There are certain animals that can eat popcorn from cobs. 

Corn comes in many forms like sweet corn,  flint corn, etc whereas popcorn can come in many forms too. Types of popcorn are hulless, gourmet, Amish, and unpopped.

The harvesting process of popcorn is different. Popcorns are harvested when it has a lower moisture content whereas sweet corn is harvested when it develops a softer kernel.

Nutritionally too, both corn and popcorn are different. Corn on the pop has higher calories than unflavored popcorn. However, fat levels of popcorn are higher compared to other corn.

How is sweet corn different from dent corn?

Dent corn is used to feed livestock whereas sweet corn is consumed only by humans. Sweet corn is harvested only when the kernels are tender whereas hard corn is harvested when kernels are dry and hard.

Sweet corn is easier to eat as they are tender and soft when cooked. Field corn kernels are comparatively harder but have a starchy interior. Field corn plants are larger than sweet corn too.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, “Is corn a vegetable?” and provided information on how corn can be a grain, fruit, and vegetable, some types of corn, and the difference between popcorn as well as other corn.


Leave a Comment