Purple corn is more than tasty and eye-catching. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a game-changing element of purple corn – it may help reduce the risk of major health diseases.
While developing new types of purple corn, the researchers found some with elevated levels of a naturally occurring chemical that may fight obesity, inflammation, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain types of cancer. They also found that the outer layer of kernels might be used as natural food coloring.
USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture is supporting this research with funds through the Hatch Act. Hatch funds support agricultural research to solve problems that concern more than one state.
The research team, led by food science professor Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia and crop sciences professor John Juvik, created 20 varieties of the Apache Red maize strain, each with a different amount and type of anthocyanins, the element that gives the maize its distinct color. Studies have shown that eating anthocyanin-rich foods may reduce the risk of disease.
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