Folklore and History
One of the most widely-consumed foodstuffs in Peruvian cuisine, Purple Corn has been cultivated in Peru for thousands of years. It has been used since pre-Inca times and is found in different ceramic objects of culture dating back over 2,500 years.
Interestingly, if you take Purple Corn and plant it outside of Peru it loses its purple color. Some scientists say the harsh environment of the Peruvian Andes, which rises 10,000 to 15,000 above sea level, forced this corn to fight for survival and increase its immunity capacity through evolution. This, in turn, led to the production of massive amounts of anthocyanins – the phytonutrients responsible for its deep purple color.
All Purple Corn strains originate from an ancient purple corn which is known as Kculli. It has long been revered by the indigenous peoples where it is known as “the plant of remembrance”.
Traditional Use and Health Benefits
Hailing from the Peruvian Andes mountains, purple corn has been used for 1000’s of years by the indigenous peoples of this region for a multitude of purposes. It is used as a base for drinks, sorbets, puddings, and popsicles or used to make bread and tortillas. One of the most popular uses for 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 Benefits
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. These powerful compounds make Purple Corn stand head and shoulders above regular corn in terms of contribution to health. A 2004 study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” found that one particular anthocyanin found in Purple Corn – CG3 – has the potential to fight obesity and diabetes. CG3 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) assay, 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.
In a study conducted at The Tokai Gakuen University in Japan, it was confirmed that there was an anti-inflammatory response to CG3. Further statements based on the results of these studies indicate that “it is possible that this plant pigment may also suppress the inflammatory response in diseases marked with inflammation.”
Lowers 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 rats.
Scientists from Hallym University in Korea found that antioxidant properties. In purple corn, the extract was 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.
Two more important antioxidants found in purple corn are lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds are used almost exclusively by the eyes. And high levels of these antioxidants have been associated with decreased chances of developing serious eye diseases such as cataracts or macular degeneration.
Purple Corn Extract 7:1 concentrate, can be added to food or liquid: Use 1/8 teaspoon daily, the amount can be increased over time to 1 level tablespoon, (2 grams) This vibrant purple powder makes a nutritious addition to smoothies & raw chocolate recipes.
Purple Corn Flour can be used as a substitute for other flours and used to make superfood bread, crackers, cakes & biscuits: Use 1/3 purple corn flour to 2/3 other flour.