This looks like an alien parasite, or maybe an evil brain, but it's actually a fungus that attacks corn. U.S. farmers call it "corn smut" and have spent millions to eradicate it. But it's actually better for you than corn.

A new study, released in the journal Food Chemistry reveal that corn smut, also called "the devil's corn," actually contains valuable nutrients that aren't found in the corn that it feeds off. In Mexico, the fungus is called huitlacoche, and it's already considered a delicacy. But U.S. farmers, and the U.S. government, have spent millions of dollars to eradicate the blight and develop "smut-resistant strains" of corn.

Turns out that corn smut, despite its loathsome appearance and pornographic name, is chock full of essential nutrients, including lysine, an amino acid that can strengthen bones and make your skin look younger. And beta-glucens, a soluble fiber that helps you cut your cholesterol. So it's actually better for you, and could turn out to be more valuable on the market, than the corn it "ruins." Weird fungi like this could be the food staples of the future, so I guess we'd better start getting used to the way they look. Photos by AP. [Associated Press]