We had a visitor at my place sometime back, and the person was complaining that we prepared unpleasant breakfast in the name of boiled maize to down with black tea one Saturday morning. Later during the day I kept looking at this person who had nothing himself, yet he called maize food for the poor.
Maize is commonly known as corn in the other parts of the world and is the most cultivated crop on Earth. Globally, maize is even the most cultivated staple crop and is used as a primary source of nutrition, yet this person had the nerve to call it food for the poor.
Not only does maize provide the necessary calories for daily metabolism, but is also a rich source of vitamins A, B, E and many minerals. Its high fibre content ensures that it plays a role in prevention of digestive ailments like constipation and haemorrhoids as well as colorectal cancer. The antioxidants present in corn also act as anti-cancer agents and prevent Alzheimer’s.
Health benefits of maize are offered by presence of quality nutrients in it. Also, being rich in phytochemicals, it provides protection against numerous chronic diseases. Following are some of the health benefits of corn:
Rich Source of Calories: Maize/Corn is a rich source of calories and forms a part of the staple diet among many populations. The calorific content of corn is 342 calories per 100grams, among the highest in cereals.
Prevention of Haemorrhoids and Colorectal Cancer: The fibre content of one cup of maize flour amounts to 18.4% of the daily recommended amount. This aids in alleviating digestive problems such as constipation and haemorrhoids, as well as lowering the risk of colon cancer.
Rich Source of Vitamins: Maize is rich in vitamin B constituents, especially Thiamin and Niacin. Thiamin is essential for maintaining nerve health and cognitive function. Niacin deficiency leads to Pellagra; a disease characterised by diarrhoea, dementia and dermatitis and is commonly observed in malnourished individuals. It is also a good source of Pantothenic acid which is a vitamin necessary for carbohydrate as well as protein and lipid metabolism in the body. Deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women leads to birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects at birth. Corn provides a large chunk of the daily foliate requirement. Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene which forms vitamin A in the body, essential for maintenance of good vision and skin. The kernels of maize are rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant essential for growth.
Provides Necessary Minerals: Maize contains abundant phosphorus apart from magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper. It also contains trace minerals like selenium. Phosphorus is essential for maintenance of normal growth, bone health and normal kidney functioning. Magnesium is necessary for maintaining normal heart rate and for bone strength.
Cardio-Protective Attributes: According to researchers, corn oil has been shown to anti-atherogenic effect on the cholesterol levels, thus preventing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Prevents Anaemia: The vitamin B12 and folic acid present in maize/corn prevent anaemia caused by the deficiency of these vitamins.
Lowering LDL Cholesterol: According to Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, consumption of corn husk oil lowers plasma LDL cholesterol by reducing cholesterol absorption by the body.
Protection against Diabetes and Hypertension: Consumption of corn kernels assists the management of non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM) and is effective against hypertension due to the presence of phenolic phytochemicals in whole corn.
Cosmetic Benefits: Corn starch is used in the manufacture of many cosmetics and may also be applied topically to soothe skin rashes and irritations. Corn products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which form major components of cosmetic preparations.
Eating boiled maize also helps in strengthening one’s dental formula. The main shortcoming is that most people are not aware of the numerous health benefits of maize, hence fail to include it in their nutrition- now that you know do not fail to include it in your diet.