Makka or Maize (Zea Mays) is believed to be originated in Central America. It has been a staple food since ancient era and mythological civilizations of Incan, Aztec and Mayan were believed to consume Maize. Presently, Makka is consumed in several forms such as pop corns, Makka Roti (Indian Bread), Tortillas, Cornmeals, Bhutta and boiled corn. Available mostly in yellow, Makka is also available in white, black, blue, pink and red colors. Maize is a good source of Phytonutrients, Fiber, Vitamins and Manganese. Makka or Corn is locally known as Mokka jonna pindi in telugu; Cholam in Tamil; Makai chi Peet in Marathi and Jolade Hittu in Kannad.
Makka (Corn) Health Facts
Makka or Corn for Antioxidation: Makka contains antioxidants which help in maintaining good health and youth. Anti oxidation properties of different varieties of Maize are linked to different combinations of phytonutrients found in them. While yellow corn contains high proportion of Carotenoids rich in Lutein and Zeaxanthin, Blue corn contains anthocyanins. Purple corn derives its antioxidant properties from Protocatechuic acid present in it which is linked to strong antioxidant activity.
Makka or Corn for Fiber: Makka is a good source fiber. It contains a high ratio of Insoluble to Soluble fiber. Studies have shown that certain kinds of fibers present in corn can be metabolized into Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) upon reaching lower part of large intestine by friendly bacteria present there. SCFA directly supplies energy to cellular lining of large intestine thus stimulates growth of friendly bacteria in larger intestine. This energy supplied in form of SCFAs helps in maintaining cellular health of large intestine and reduces risk of colon cancer.
Makka or Corn for Blood Sugar Control:
Makka or Corn contains fibre, b-complex vitamins and protein which help in stabilizing blood sugar level. Fiber and protein present in corn helps in pacing food passage through the digestive tract and prevents very quick/ very fast digestion of food. Thus too quick/ slow absorption of sugar into bloodstream from digestive tract is prevented. This avoids extreme fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Studies have shown that consumption of 1 to 2 cupfuls of corn is linked to control of blood sugar levels in conditions of type 1 and type 2 diabetes.Makka or Corn consumption during Pregnancy:
Makka consumption is useful for pregnant women as it is a good source folic acid. It is known that deficiency of folic acid may lead to neural tube defects and underweight baby.
Makka or Corn for Eyes/ Skin: Beta Carotene present in yellow corn/ Makka is good for keeping good eyesight and skin health.
Makka/Corn Oil for Cholesterol: Studies have shown that corn oil is anti-atherogenic and helps in lowering risk of heart related diseases. Corn oil helps in reducing cholesterol absorption by body and hence lowers plasma LDL cholesterol.
Makka and HIV Research:
In a preliminary study on anti-HIV properties of corn, it was found that a lectin GNAmaize present in Corn/Makka has some anti-HIV properties. Lectins are special proteins, found in many food items, which can bind to carbohydrates and carbohydrates receptors on membranes of cell. Studies have shown that binding of lectins onto sugar helps in inhibiting activity of HIV virus and certain other microorganisms. Link between consumption of Makka and HIV needs to be established with further research.
For enjoying its taste, it is recommended that fresh Corn be consumed on the day of purchase. Corn with green husk should be chosen for its freshness. Corn which is not exposed to good amount of heat is safer as exposure to heat may increase chances of microbial growth.
Corn/Makka Health Risks
Since more than 70 percent of all corn available in markets worldwide are genetically modified, its health impact may be an area of concern. It is advisable to buy certified organic corn to avoid any adverse reaction due to genetic modification of corn.