Difference between White and Yellow Corn

White vs. Yellow Corn

Sweet corn, or more properly, Maize, is a grain crop that has been a staple food in many parts of the world. Its origins as agricultural produce can be traced back to the Aztecs and Mayans, which were then spread through the various expeditions during the Age of Discovery. It became very popular due to its versatility as a crop, growing in a wide variety of climate conditions. Through the years, and thanks to advancements in science, corn has steadily improved in both productivity and nutritional value. One thing that most are unaware of is that there is a wide selection of subspecies of corn. Of the varieties of corn, the two most prevalent are white and yellow corn. White and yellow corn physically resembles one another, but there are slight differences.

The word ‘corn’ is actually a misnomer. Originally, it was a term used by the English in reference to any cereal crop. ‘Maize’ is the actual proper name used outside of the Americas and in scientific terminology. The scientific name of corn is Zea mays; its subspecies are then referred to as ‘variety.’ For example, popcorn is Zea mays everta. White is the most common coloration of corn, followed closely by yellow corn, while the remaining is referred to as bi-color (which can range from red to orange-hued varieties.) ‘Corn’ is the term often used in reference to this crop in English speaking countries and almost exclusively for products which have heavy concentrations of it (such as corn flakes and corn cereals) regardless of whether it falls under white or yellow corn varieties.

White corn is generally categorized as a variety of sweet corn. While most corn is off the field corn variety (i.e. treated as a grain), sweet corn is harvested during the immature stage and treated as a vegetable. White sweet corn is actually a mutation of the regular field corn with a higher sugar than the starch ratio content. Unlike field corn, which is commonly used as a grain product for such things as livestock fodder and for other processed food like cereals, oil, starch, etc., sweet corn is consumed as a vegetable and typically eaten on the cob after boiling or roasting. As it grows on the stalk, white corn becomes wrapped in layers from green husks to white husks. It also has high water content compared to field corn. The kernels and the ‘milk’ that comprise it are colored white. However, just like regular corn, white corn kernels become hardy and tough as the water content decreases as part of its maturity. White corn is the more common variety and is, technically, the original as other color corn are mutations from the white ‘parent.’

Sweet CornYellow corn is very similar to white corn. Yellow corn is actually an evolutionary off-shoot of white corn. As the corn was further cultivated, research and scientific development produced different varieties from the original species. One of the mutations from the inherent recessive gene of corn is the inclusion of carotenoids within the corn’s composition. These carotenoids include beta-carotene. Because of this, yellow corn can be considered as having more nutritional value than its white corn counterparts. According to experts, some varieties of yellow corn have more lutein and have Vitamin A, which white corn does not. Yellow corn is also not particularly liked in certain areas of the world, such as parts of Latin America and the continent of Africa.

In summary:

  1. White is the more prevalent coloration of corn, secondly, it is yellow.
  2. Yellow corn is a genetic mutation of white corn.
  3. Varieties of yellow corn are more nutritious than the white variety; however, white corn is more widely accepted in certain parts of the world.

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