Maize also known as corn, is a large grain plant first domesticated by indigenous peoples in southern Mexico about 10,000 years ago.
Maize has become a staple food in many parts of the world, with total production surpassing that of wheat or rice. However a lot of it is used for corn ethanol, animal feed and other maize products, such as corn starch and corn syrup. Corn is entirely free of gluten and rich in essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamin A, potassium, and magnesium.
Nutritional Information (as per USDA National Nutrient Database)
Maize has various health benefits. The B-complex vitamins in maize are good for skin, hair, heart, brain, and proper digestion. They also prevent the symptoms of rheumatism because they are believed to improve the joint motility. The presence of vitamins A, C, and K together with beta-carotene and selenium helps to improve the functioning of thyroid gland and immune system. Potassium is a major nutrient present in maize which has diuretic properties. Maize silk has many benefits associated with it. In many countries of the world such as India, China, Spain, France and Greece it is used to treat kidney stones, urinary tract infections, jaundice, and fluid retention. It also has a potential to improve blood pressure, support liver functioning, and produce bile. It acts as a good emollient for wounds, swelling, and ulcers. Decoction of silk, roots, and leaves are used for bladder problems, nausea, and vomiting, while decoction of cob is used for stomach complaints
The presence of essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid in maize oil plays an important role in the diet by maintaining blood pressure, regulating blood cholesterol level, and preventing cardiovascular maladies Moreover a tablespoon of maize oil satisfies the requirements for essential fatty acids for a healthy child or adult. Vitamin E in maize oil which is known as a key chain breaking antioxidant prevents the promulgation of oxidative stresses in biological membranes and prevents the development of atherosclerosis through intervention of maize oil in the diet. Maize is believed to have potential anti-HIV activity due to the presence of Galanthus nivalis agglutinin (GNA) lectin also referred as GNA-maize.
Maize and its products are all suitable for gluten-free diets.
In India for culinary uses whole corn kernel is stone ground into maize flour or ‘makki ka atta’. It is a yellow, coarse and odourless flour with slightly sweet flavor. Indians use it to prepare snacks like stuffed parathas, dhoklas, pancakes etc. Mexican cusine has an array of dishes like tortillas, tacos, nachos etc. which are made from this flour.