Why purple corn fights inflammation, obesity, diabetes and more

It’s barbecue season.

That means it’s time to bust out some of your best barbecue dishes — grass-fed burgers, pasture-raised pulled pork, coleslaw, potato salad.

And, of course, don’t forget the corn…

Whether you choose corn on the cob, corn bread, corn muffins, corn salad, corn chips, corn casserole, every barbecue is better with a bit of corn on the menu.

But you may be thinking… isn’t corn bad for you? Do I really want to go all in on the corn dishes this barbecue season?

You’ve probably heard that corn causes inflammation, is hard to digest and is chock-full of GMOs. And there’s no denying that there are some downsides to corn. It acts as a filler in the modern American diet. It’s in tons of processed foods.

As a result, a lot of people have developed intolerances to it.

But here’s the thing…

If you don’t have an intolerance to corn and you choose the right kind, corn can be healthy. In fact, a new study shows that this colorful corn could be the answer to inflammation, obesity, diabetes and more…

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Purple corn is an antioxidant powerhouse

Researchers from the University of Illinois just developed new types of purple corn that could fight obesity, inflammation, and diabetes.

Purple corn is originally from the Peruvian Andes. But for their study, U of I researchers bred 20 new varieties — ones that are especially high in phytochemicals.

Its varieties, in general, contain lots of anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant that’s proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. These anthocyanins are also what give purple corn varieties (and other blue, red and purple foods) their vibrant color.

Related: 10 purple powerhouse foods that fight cancer, stroke and dementia

Researchers found that these antioxidant compounds reduced the fat content in mouse cells, lowered a marker for insulin resistance and made important changes to molecules that reduce oxidative stress and inflammation.

Besides anthocyanins, purple corn also contains antioxidants like quercetin, luteolin, and rutin, which have proven benefits against obesity, inflammation and type 2 diabetes.

How to get your hands on purple corn

The benefits of purple corn sound great… but where the heck can you get your hands on some?

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy to get a hold of in North America as it is in South America. Blue corn is a bit more common here, and it also contains high levels of antioxidants (although, not as high as purple corn).

Related: The Antioxidant Diet: Top foods and supplements

But truth be told, it’s rare to see blue or purple corn on the cob for sale at your local grocery store. You might find products made from blue or purple corn, like chips, tortillas, cereal, and flour. In fact, blue or purple corn flour is common at health food stores and can be used to create a bunch of delicious antioxidant-rich dishes, like corn muffins, cornbread, and griddle cakes.

You can also find many blue and purple corn products online, including organic purple cornflakes and purple popcorn kernels. Now, imagine bringing a bag or bowl of purple popcorn to your next party, barbecue or movie outing. That would make a statement.

Of course, you could always stick to yellow (organic) corn for your summer social gatherings and just buy a supplement. You’ll find purple corn milk, extracts, pills, powders and more that can give you the benefits of this amazing (and colorful!) vegetable.

Editor’s note: Hi friend, if you’re visiting from Facebook could you do us a favor and share this post? I’m sure you’d agree that this is important health information anyone could benefit from. But, for whatever reason, Facebook will only allow our posts to reach a small fraction of our more than 440,000 Facebook followers. Seems like censorship but they call it algorithms. Thank you!


  1. Study: Phenols in purple corn fight diabetes, obesity, inflammation in mouse cells— EurekAlert
  2. Blue corn: Not just for snack chips— The San Diego Tribune
Jenny Smiechowski

By Jenny Smiechowski

Jenny Smiechowski is a Chicago-based freelance writer who specializes in health, nutrition and the environment. Her work has appeared in online and print publications like Chicagoland Gardening magazine, Organic Lifestyle Magazine, BetterLife Magazine, TheFix.com, Hybridcars.com and Seedstock.com.