Prebiotic Potential of Whole Maize Cereals

Researchers at the University of Reading, England carried out a double-blind, placebo-controlled human feeding study to explore the potential benefits of eating a whole maize (corn) cereal daily. For 21 days, they offered 32 healthy adults either 48 grams a day of a whole grain corn ceeal or an equal amount of a non-whole-grain cereal placebo, in a cross-over fashion, with a 3-week washout period in between. Fecal bifidobacteria levels increased significantly after 21 days of whole grain cereal, as compared to the refined grain cereal, leading researchers to conclude that whole grain corn can cause a “bifidogenic modulation of the gut microbiota” – an increase in beneficial gut bacteria.
British Journal of Nutrition. May 2010; 21:1-4 (Epub ahead of print)

Antidiabetes and Antihypertension potential of corn

Scientists in São Paulo, Brazil, studied ten traditional foods native to the Peruvean Andes, to measure healthy compounds in the foods that are thought to manage early stages of diabetes and high blood pressure. Purple corn scored highest in free-radical-scavenging antioxidant activity, and also had the highest total phenolic content and highest alpha-glucosidase inhibitory activity. The researchers concluded that these native foods, including purple corn, could be useful in designing health-management programs for diabetes and hypertension.
Journal of Medicinal Food. August 2009; 12(4): 704-13.

Cornbread ranks high as whole grain source

Children and youth with type 1 diabetes must be especially careful to eat well, but, like other children, have strong likes and dislikes. Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School worked with 128 young people, ages 7 to 17, at a diabetes camp, to gauge acceptability of a range of whole grains and legumes. Whole grain cornbread was the favorite (85% tried it and liked it, with another 11% willing to try it) followed by whole wheat bread (72% tried/liked and 3% more were willing to try). Those living in an urban setting or frequently consuming fast food were less willing to try whole grain foods.
Diabetes Education. May-June 2009; 35(3): 422-7. Epub Mar 16, 2009.

Popcorn intake associated with higher whole grain intake

At the University of Nebraska, researchers examined data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to learn whether popcorn consumption was associated with different dietary intake patterns. They found that, on average, those who regularly ate popcorn consumed 250% more whole grain overall (2.5 vs 0.7 servings per day), and about 22% more fiber (18.1g vs 14.9g per day). The popcorn-eaters also consumed fewer meat servings and more carbohydrates.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association. May 2008; 108(5): 853-6.

Carotenoids abound in Corn food products

Carotenoids are plant pigments that act as antioxidants, and are especially associated with eye health. Scientists at Purdue University studied yellow maize (corn) to better understand the bioavailability of the carotenoids therein.  They found that lutein and zeaxanthin were the major carotenoids, making up about 70% of total carotenoid content. They also found that bioavailability of different carotenoids varied according to the type of foods (breads, extruded corn puffs, porridge).
Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. November 12, 2008; 56(21): 9918-26. Epub Oct 21, 2008.