Blue corn has been popping up as an ingredient everywhere from tortilla chips to breakfast cereal. Intriguing new research suggests that anthocyanins, the nutrients that give the corn its lovely blue color, may also help protect against metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. The study raises interest in using blue maize as a component of functional foods and nutraceuticals, foods that contain a medicinal benefit.
The study was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food. Researchers from Universidad Veracruzana, Instituto Tecnologico de Veracruz and Unidad Oaxaca/Calle Hornos in Mexico, fed rats a high-sugar, high-cholesterol diet. The group of rats that also ate blue maize extract had a significantly smaller increase in abdominal fat compared to rats that didn’t get the blue maize extract. The rodents that were given the blue maize also showed significant improvement in systolic blood pressure, high density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglyceride levels, compared to the rats that didn’t get the extract.
"Anti-obesity food materials are always in demand, and this study brings out not only the importance of blue maize in controlling adipocity, but also the potential role of cholesterol in the development of obesity," Journal of Medicinal Food Editor-in-Chief Sampath Parthasarathy, MBA, PhD, Florida Hospital chair in cardiovascular sciences and interim associate dean, College of Medicine, University of Central Florida, said in the publisher’s release about the study.
Apparently, the Hopi people were way ahead of the scientific curve. In their tradition, blue corn represents a long life. Hopi men ate blue corn before leaving on long journeys, believing it gave them great strength.