Maize is a widely used ingredient in the food industry but its whole grain maize that is really responsible for the health benefits of maize. The rawest form of maize is corn on the cob. Popcorn and polenta are also good forms. Maize can also be found in the form of
1 cup of cooked yellow corn contains about 177 calories. It is a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and the B vitamins folate, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin. It is also a good source of magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and manganese. Yellow corn contains lutein and zexanthin, powerful antioxidants. Maize is a good source of low glycemic index (GI) carbohydrate.
Maize for Heart Disease Prevention
Maize is a good source of the cholesterol lowering B vitamin niacin and the blood pressure lowering mineral magnesium. Wholegrains, like maize are a good source of fibre. A meta-analysis of 7 studies showed that people with the highest dietary fibre intake had the lowest cardiovascular risk.
Maize for Diabetes Prevention
The mineral magnesium forms part of the glucose-regulating compound (known as glucose tolerance factor), along with chromium and vanadium, which are also found in wholegrains. Studies have shown that regular consumption of wholegrains lowers Type 2 diabetes risk. In one 8-year trial of over 40,000 subjects, risk of Type 2 diabetes was found to be 30% lower in women who frequently consumed wholegrains compared to those who ate the least of these foods. The low GI of maize helps to create a more sustained release of glucose into the bloodstream, which prevents sugar spikes and puts less stress on the pancreas that needs to pump out less insulin to deal with the glucose load.
Maize and Cancer Prevention
Wholegrain compounds in barley may help with cancer prevention. A study of over 35,000 participants showed that those consuming the most wholegrains had a significant reduction in breast cancer risk compared to those with low wholegrain intakes. The main reasons for wholegrains offering protection have to do with their high fibre content as well as their high nutrient and antioxidant content. In addition, wholegrains contain special compound called lignans, which are converted by good bacteria in the gut into useful substance that can help prevent cancer.
Maize Helps Improve Eyesight
One of the health benefits of maize is related to its protective effects on eyesight. The antioxidants lutein and zexanthin help prevent and slow macular degeneration, a type of age-related loss of eyesight. Supplementing with these antioxidants is now standard practice for this condition. There is also evidence that compounds in spinach can help prevent cataracts.
Maize for Digestive Health
Another of the health benefits of maize is its ability to aid digestive health. Wholegrains are a rich source of insoluble fibre, which increases stool bulk and decreases the transit time of waste through the intestines.