15 Foods that Are Similar to Corn

Corn cobs on wooden table.

Corn is one of the most produced sources of food in the world today, but it wasn’t always that way. The official name of this cereal grain is maize. There is often some disagreement on whether it’s just a grain or if it’s a vegetable or even a type of grass. Some would say it’s all three.

The type of corn that you find in the supermarket is of the species, Z. Mays from the genus, Zea. Corn was grown and used as a food source for thousands of years in North America and South America, long before being discovered by people from the other half of the planet. These continents are still a major source of corn for the world.

Corn is of course eaten right off of the cob, grilled or boiled. It’s also canned, creamed, and made into a snack known as popcorn. Like most grains, it can be ground and made into bread, as well as tortillas and taco shells.

Nutrition facts of a corn cob.

Corn is a popular ingredient for breakfast cereals, snack chips, and syrups. Corn syrup has replaced cane sugar as a major sweetener for many food companies. Corn is a good source of carbohydrates, sugars, antioxidants, and minerals such as iron, zinc, and manganese.

While corn is a truly unique food, here are fifteen other grains and vegetables that are similar:

1. Wheat

Hands holding a handful of wheat grains in a wheat field.

Wheat is another grain that’s used as a major source of food throughout the world. It’s grain-like corn and can also be used to make bread. The most common species you’ll find on the dinner table is Triticum aestivum. This is a cultivated species that was bread for its useful properties.

Wheat was being grown in the Nile region since 9,600 BCE. Today, it’s grown on farms and harvested all over the world. When it comes to nutrition, wheat and bread are major sources of carbohydrates and energy.

Whole-grain wheat bread is also a good source of dietary fiber. In addition to bread, wheat is also the main ingredient in all kinds of pasta. From pie crust and pizza dough to breakfast cereals, wheat is being consumed everywhere.

2. Oats

A bowl of oats with wooden spoon on wood plank table.

Oats, or Avena sativa, is another popular cereal grain just like corn. Oats are rich in dietary fiber and are a great source of carbohydrates. They are also rich in thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and manganese.

Unlike other grains, oats are also a good source of protein. There’s also a lot of research that shows how oars can help to reduce cholesterol. Much of the world’s oat supply comes from Russia and Canada.

Oats are a popular ingredient in both hot and cold breakfast cereals. Oatmeal is a classic, popular staple at many morning tables. Oats are also frequently used for granola bars, cookies, cakes, and other baked goods.

3. Rice

White rice in bowl with parsley.

While corn, wheat, and oats feed large parts of the human population, rice has certainly done its fair share as well. While popular all over the world, it is grown and consumed more in Asia and India than anywhere else. There are thousands of types of rice, also known as Oryza sativa, with white and brown rice found in many different dishes.

Rice is technically the seed of a type of grass. Rice requires a lot of rain, a lot of water, and plenty of time and effort to grow. It can be boiled and eaten as is, added to milk, sweetened, or made into a wide variety of dishes.

Rice can often be found in breakfast cereals. It’s the main staple for all three meals in many countries. It is often combined with chicken, pork, beef, various vegetables, and sauces to make an entire meal.

4. Wild Rice

A spoonful of organic wild rice.

Wild rice is not actually rice but is instead a type of grass. That actually makes it more like corn than regular rice, though it’s not nearly as popular as either of those two foods. In spite of the name, wild rice is cultivated and grown as a crop far more often than it is harvested in the world these days.

Wild rice is an excellent source of fiber, iron, manganese, magnesium, and zinc. Just like corn, wild rice can be popped to make a snack. This can be eaten on its own or added to salads for some extra taste and texture.

Wild rice is often added to soups such as creamy chicken and wild rice. It can be used as a stuffing for poultry such as chicken, turkey, and game hen. It’s also frequently added to meats and vegetables to make a dish, just like the regular rice is.

5. Wheat Berries

Wheat berries pouring out from the wooden container.

Wheat berries are just the basic grain kernels of wheat after the outer husk is removed. While wheat may be the most prominent ingredient in diets around the world, wheat berries are far less common. They’re basically the unrefined part of the plant that normally gets turned into other foods.

Wheat berries can be boiled and used in dishes in the same way rice is often used. Cooks can add vegetables, sauces, and meats to make a complete dish. They can also simply add the wheat berries to soups or to stuff peppers.

Wheat berries are a good source of dietary fiber. they are also an excellent source of iron and protein. They are similar to corn by virtue of being a grain.

6. Buckwheat

Buckwheat with wooden scoop.

Buckwheat, or Fagopyrum esculentum, is a plant that’s grown in a similar fashion to corn. It is cultivated and harvested for its seeds which are then used in the same way grains are often used. One of the benefits of buckwheat is that it’s gluten-free.

While buckwheat is similar to corn, it’s different in that it’s not really a grain at all. It can be used to make bread and other gluten-free goods in lieu of using standard wheat. It can also be used for the production of gluten-free beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Buckwheat is sugar-free and cholesterol-free. It’s a nice source of protein, fiber, and B vitamins. It’s also a popular main ingredient for crepes and pancakes.

7. Bulgar

A bowl of organic bulgar wheat.

Bulgar is a type of cereal grain just like corn. It’s a type of wheat, most often durum wheat. Unlike corn, this is a grain that’s primarily grown in Middle-Eastern countries, and consequently, it’s very popular in Middle-Eastern cuisine. It’s easy to prepare and doesn’t even need to be cooked before adding it to dishes.

Bulgar has more nutritional value than the type of wheat that’s made into white flour. It contains a number of vitamins and minerals such as B6, niacin, magnesium, and iron. Like many grains, it also helps with digestion and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.

Bulgar is often used in savory porridge, bread, and as a breakfast cereal. It’s also a popular ingredient in sweet puddings like kheer.

8. Farro

Whole grain of farro, a bowl of flour, and sourdough  bread on a rustic table.

Farro is another wheat species, usually Triticum spelta, and is, therefore, a grain food like corn. It is typically purchased in dried form and then boiled until it becomes soft. It can be eaten as is or used as an ingredient in soups and salads.

Just like corn, Farro is often used as a source of carbohydrates. Like most of the foods on this list, it’s a good source of fiber, iron, and magnesium. Farro is especially popular in Italy and turns up in a lot of Italian cuisines.

Some of the popular dishes that use Farro include spring-vegetable Farro soup, Farro salad, and Farro with wild mushrooms.

9. Teff

Teff flour in a bowl with a spoonful of teff grain on the side.

Teff, or Eragrostis tef, is a type of grass. It’s somewhat similar to corn in that corn is also considered grass in addition to being classified as a grain and a vegetable. Teff is cultivated and grown as a food source in much the same way, but it’s primarily found in the Horn of Africa.

The edible seeds of Teff are used as a grain food source. It’s rich in fiber, carbohydrates, and B vitamins. Teff can be made into bread and pastries. It’s also a popular addition to salads.

Teff is used to make bread and as an added ingredient in a number of Ethiopian dishes. The fact that it’s gluten-free is increasing its popularity in North America and around the world.

10. Kaniwa

Kaniwa grains on a wooden spoon.

Kaniwa’s scientific name is Chenopodium pallidicaule. It’s native to the Andean region and is grown in a similar fashion to corn. It is used as a source of carbohydrates and for many of the same dietary reasons as corn is in other parts of the world.

Since Kaniwa is easy to grow in higher mountain terrains, it is often used for such reasons where other grains are not as easy to cultivate. Kaniwa is a good source of protein, dietary fiber, and calcium. It’s one of the few grain-type foods on this list that’s really rich in calcium.

Kaniwa is considered an ancient grain and these are becoming increasingly popular in North American meals. It is often added on top of salads and in soups.

11. Freekeh

A bowl of uncooked cracked freekeh grain.

Freekah is grain-like corn. It provides a lot of the same health benefits that corn does. Unlike corn, it is made from a type of wheat called Triticum turgidum. It is then roasted and rubbed together to give it its distinct taste.

Freekah is harvested while the grain heads are still green. It is usually left out in the sun to dry naturally. It’s especially popular in Egypt, Tunisia, and Turkey as an additional ingredient in a number of dishes.

Freekah is a good source of B vitamins, dietary fiber, and carbohydrates, just like corn. It’s often used in stir-fries with other grains, vegetables, and shrimp. It’s a popular addition to curry dishes in India too.

12. Millet

Sweet millet porridge with raisins and dried cranberries in a ceramic bowl.

Millet is harvested from the seeds of certain grasses. It’s a cereal crop like corn that is popular all around the world. It’s particularly common in meals in India, Mali, and Nigeria.

Millet is easy to grow in extreme weather conditions such as high temperatures and drought. It’s a great source of fiber, protein, and carbohydrates. It is often used in making bread, pasta, and snacks.

Millet can be cooked and eaten by itself or added to a variety of dishes. It’s a useful ingredient in porridge, cookies, and cakes too. Millet is becoming popular in various parts of the world due to its anti-oxidant properties and the fact that it’s gluten-free.

13. Quinoa

A bowl of quinoa salad.

Quinoa is a flowering plant that’s considerably different from corn. One neat thing that it does share in common with corn is that it can be popped and eaten as a snack just like popcorn. The scientific name of Quinoa is Chenopodium quinoa.

Quinoa is not grass and not exactly a grain type like corn is. It’s a plant that is more closely related to vegetables like spinach and amaranth. The part that’s used for food is actually the plant seeds which can be used to make bread or as an ingredient in a variety of dishes.

Quinoa has a much higher protein content than most grains and other foods that are similar to corn. It’s still a major source of dietary fiber too. This makes Quinoa a solid staple for any diet.

It’s becoming more popular around the world lately and is often used as a side dish with garlic, vegetables, spiced chickpeas, and other ingredients.

14. Amaranth

A spoonful of organic amaranth grains.

Amaranth is yet another food on this list that can be popped like popcorn. As previously stated, it’s similar to Quinoa, much more than it is to corn. The seeds, leaves, and the oil of the plant are all used as sources of food.

Unlike corn, amaranth is also sometimes used just for medicinal purposes. It has been used to treat ulcers and high cholesterol, though there still is no solid scientific evidence of its benefits. It is, however, an excellent source of dietary fiber and B vitamins like so many of the foods on our list.

Amaranth-based foods come from a variety of different species all from the genus, Amaranthus. The leaves are used for salads and the oils can be used for a variety of dishes. The seeds can be ground up and made into porridge.

15. Sorghum

A scoop of white sorghum grains with clusters of ripe seeds.

Sorghum is another of our foods that can be popped just like corn can. The name Sorghum is actually the genus for a variety of species that are used for this food source. The most prominent one is Sorghum bicolor. This is a grass species cultivated for its grain-like seeds that can then be made into flour and bread.

Sorghum is grown primarily in India, Mexico, and the United States. In addition to flatbreads and a snack like popcorn, it can also be made into porridge-like oatmeal. In Asia, it is often used to make a fermented, alcoholic beverage that’s not unlike beer.

Sorghum is high in protein and dietary fiber. It’s widely used to make a kind of tortilla in Honduras, just like corn is used throughout South America and North America for the same purpose.

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