Surprise! 10 Sneaky Names For Corn

Occasionally, I’ll have an actor client that needs to gain weight quickly for a role. The number one food I recommend? Corn. But weight gain is just one of the reasons to avoid corn. Corn is a freakishly genetically modified plant. Even if you buy organic and non-GMO, today’s corn has been hybridized into a pumped-up, juiced-up version of its former self. It’s far, far sweeter because they sugars have been so highly concentrated by manufacturers. And what do farmers give their livestock to fatten them up fast? You guessed it.

It’s easy enough to avoid corn if you’re looking for “corn” on an ingredient list: corn syrup, corn starch, etc. But lots of other ingredients can be derived from corn too.

10 popular ingredients derived from corn

1. Baking powder. Nearly all brands contain corn starch. In recipes, substitute 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar plus 1/4 tsp. baking soda for 1 tsp. or baking powder.

2. Maltodextrin (and dextrin). These are thickeners derived from corn starch.

3. Dextrose. This is a corn-derived sugar that often shows in up packaged foods that are meant to turn out crispy, like frozen french fries or frozen breaded fish.

4. Vanilla extract. Did you think vanilla extract was just vanilla? Check the label: Most contain corn syrup. And if not, the vanilla beans are likely extracted in corn-based alcohol. Frontier brand Vanilla flavoring is corn-free. It’s made from vanilla beans and glycerin.

5. Caramel. When found on an ingredient list, caramel is usually added for color. It’s almost always derived from corn.

6. Distilled white vinegar. Yep, usually made from corn. I prefer apple-cider vinegar. Use your old bottle of white vinegar for cleaning chrome fixtures or your garbage disposal.

7. Xylitol. This sweetener is one of the two sweeteners you can use on the Fast Metabolism Diet. But I recommend xylitol made from birch or hardwood. If a product merely says it includes xylitol, you can assume it’s probably corn-based xylitol.

8. Food starch (also modified food starch). You know to look for corn starch, but if a product just says “starch” or “food starch” or “modified food starch,” it’s probably derived from corn.

9. Malt. You’ll see this in some beverages or even baked goods. Malt can be made from pretty much any grain — you’ll sometimes see barley malt on ingredient lists — but corn is the cheapest grain, so if no grain is specified, it’s probably made from corn.

10. Iodized salt. Most brands of table salt include dextrose (see #3 above). I recommend Himalayan, Celtic or sea salts.