Purple corn has been used for thousands of years by the indigenous peoples of Peru for a multitude of purposes. One of the most popular uses of purple corn is in “chicha morada” – made by boiling the kernels with fruits and spices – a drink thought to date back to before the creation of the Incan empire. This sweet beverage is now recognized as a nutrient powerhouse due to its rich antioxidant content, vitamins and minerals.
Purple Corn's Explained Health Benefits:
Anti-inflammatory - In a study conducted at The Tokai Gakuen University in Japan, it was confirmed that there was an anti-inflammatory response to C3G (Cyanidin-3-Glucoside), a particular antioxidant. Further statements based on results of these studies indicate that, “it is possible that this plant pigment may also suppress the inflammatory response in diseases marked with inflammation.”
High in Antioxidants/Balances Blood Sugar - Purple Corn expresses one of the deepest purple shades found in the plant kingdom. This vibrant purple hue is indicative of the kind of antioxidants it contains – anthocyanins. A 2004 study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” found that one particular anthocyanin found in Purple Corn – C3G – has the potential to fight obesity and diabetes. C3G is reported to be one of the most powerful antioxidants in existence, coming out top when tested against 13 other anthocyanins in the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) which tests for antioxidant activity.
Another antioxidant making waves in nutritional circles is a hydroxybenzoic acid in purple corn - protocatechuic acid – which has been recently linked to the strong antioxidant activity in this corn variety.
Improves Heart Health/Blood Pressure - According to the American Heart Association, untreated high blood pressure can lead to kidney damage, heart disease, memory loss, vision loss and stroke. The 2007 issue of the “Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology” reported that the anthocyanins in Purple Corn lowered blood pressure and heart rate in hypertensive test subjects.
Scientists from Hallym University in Korea found that antioxidant properties in purple corn were able to prevent the hardening of the blood vessels in the kidneys - a process called “glomerulosclerosis” - which is often associated with diabetes. This can cause kidney failure if left unchecked.
Prevents and Treats Cancer - During one study, the team took anthocyanins from different plant sources, including purple corn, grapes, radishes, chokeberries, bilberries, purple carrots and elderberries, and compared the amount of each different type of anthocyanin it took to reduce in vitro cancer growth by 50 percent. Anthocyanins from purple corn proved to be the winner; it took less anthocyanin derived from purple corn to reduce cancer growth by half than it did any other anthocyanin extract. During the study, researchers found that anthocyanins extracted from purple corn also killed 20 percent of in vitro cancer cells, while leaving surrounding tissue relatively unharmed.
Improves Vision - Two more important antioxidants found in purple corn are lutein and zeaxathinin. These compounds are used almost exclusively by the eyes. High levels of these antioxidants have been associated with decreased chances of developing serious eye diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration.
Weight Loss - A study's results were compared at the end of 12 weeks on test subjects. Those who were fed the high fat diet with C3G showed less propensity toward obesity than the test subjects fed the high fat diet without C3G. The test subjects on the high-fat diet with C3G supplementation also showed no significant differences in fatty tissue weight when compared to the test subjects on the normal diets. Also test subjects on the high-fat diet that consumed C3G did not show the propensity toward hyperglycemia and insulin resistance that the test subjects on the high-fat diet without C3G did. The researchers concluded that Purple Corn anthocyanins may have the potential to fight obesity and diabetes.