A staple for the Inca civilization, purple corn almost became a lost crop, but luckily purple corn is still grown in Peru. These are its benefits.
A powerful superfood, purple corn’s deep vibrant hue is derived from a rich amount of anthocyanins, a class of polyphenols. Scientists believe that the pigment is attributed to the environment: properties in the soil, water, or climate of Peru.
Mysteriously, purple corn will lose its color when planted in other countries, sometimes even presenting as yellow corn. One of the more popular uses for purple corn is in chicha morada, a brightly colored sweet drink. Find the recipe here.
It’s also used as a base for sorbets, pudding (mazamorra morada), used to make bread and pancakes, and now even whiskey. Purple corn is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, which helps to keep the body healthy and protect it from damage by strengthening the body’s immunity and decreasing the inflammatory response of inflammation-causing diseases.
These antioxidants and phytonutrients protect the body from carcinogens such as prostate cancer and potentially prevent the development of colon cancer. They help to reduce the damage to cells, resulting in the decrease of risk of cancer cell formation.
It also has a particular phytonutrient called anthocyanins. This potent anti-inflammatory phytonutrient enhances memory, is anti-carcinogenic, and aides with cardiovascular health. Recent research has shown that dietary consumption of anthocyanins was associated with a 15% reduction in the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Additionally, purple corn can potentially reduce the risk of heart disease-most likely due to decreased coagulation of platelets and increased circulation of HDL cholesterol, and can prevent long term kidney damage in people with type 2 diabetes by protecting renal cells.
Diabetes is often associated with ophthalmology complications, so these antioxidants help increase visual acuity and improve night vision. Purple corn also aids in regeneration of connective tissue and collagen formation for healthy skin, which is important for diabetes management.
Cover photo: Flickr/adrianpua
This article by Manuel Villacorta has been updated from its original publication on Oct 4, 2016.
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