There have been some increasing pieces of evidence that a regular consumption of fresh vegetables is linked with reduced risk of several chronic health conditions such as cancers, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Scientific studies have revealed that oxidative stress from oxidants plays a significant role in the onset and progression of chronic diseases. The health benefits of fresh vegetables are as a result of the rich abundance of phytochemicals, especially phenolics and their powerful antioxidant effects. The phenolic compounds found in vegetables scavenge for excessive free radicals in the human body by contributing hydrogen and quenching oxygen or chelating metal ions.
Due to the increasing awareness that is drawn towards the consumption of phytochemical compounds, the intake of maize has recently gained attention for studies. Maize is considered a healthy food because of its high constituent of phytochemicals and essential nutrients. Maize contains several phytochemicals such as phytosterols, carotenoids and phenolic compounds. Resistant starch (RS) from maize, which is also known as high-amylose maize exhibits several health beneficial effects. Due to the numerous health benefits of maize, its inclusion in our daily diets is highly recommended. Moreover, the increasing population continues to increase the demand for more food production. Apart from satisfying the incessant demand for food, maize has been proven to meet up with both our nutritional, pharmaceutical, therapeutic, economic, medical and industrial demands.
Maize, which is also known as corn is botanically referred to Zea mays. Zea mays is a member of the grass Poaceae family and is a popular annual cereal crop of the world. Maize is a cosmopolitan crop because it is one of the world’s leading cereal grains after rice and wheat. The word “maize” is derived from the Spanish term “maiz”, while other terms such as silk maize, barajovar, Zea and Makka are used interchangeably all over the world. Also, the term "Zea" is an ancient Greek word that connotes “sustaining life” while Mays is a Taino word that means “life giver”. There are different types of maize namely: amylomaize, flour or soft corn (Z. mays var. amylacea), dent corn (Z. mays var. indentata), flint corn or Indian corn (Z. mays var. indurata), popcorn (Z. mays var. everta), waxy corn (Z. mays var. ceratina) and sweet corn or pole corn or sugar corn (Z. mays var. saccharata and Z. mays var. rugosa).
Sweet corn or sugar corn is distinguished by its higher sugar content unlike the other types of corn. Its high sugar content is as a result of its altered endosperm starch synthesis. Sweetcorn hybrids bear a gene that slows down the conversion of glucose into starch in the endosperm. Sweetcorn is a dent-type of maize that is harvested while still immature for immediate consumption as a vegetable, for freezing or for canning for future consumption. Popcorn can pop when heated and this is as a result of the dense starch filling in the endosperm. The different types of corn mentioned above are distinguished by their diverse colours ranging from yellow, purple, blue, white and red. White corn bears white endosperm that contains high levels of vitreous endosperm and is preferably suitable for preparing tortillas. However, the red, blue and purple-coloured corn kernels are an excellent source of anthocyanins, bioactive and antioxidant properties.
Assorted Types of Maize

Nutritionally, maize is a rich source of vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (niacin), vitamin B3 (riboflavin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid, N-ferrulyl tryptamine, selenium, N-p-coumaryl tryptamine. Maize silk, which is also an important component of maize contains several essential nutrients such as fibres, maizenic acid, mucilage, fixed oils, salt, sugar and resin. Interestingly, maize cob, roots, silk and leaves can be decocted and used for tackling several health challenges such as stomach problems, jaundice, kidney-related problems, vomiting, urinary system disorder, swelling or fluid retention, wound, ulcer, and nausea etc. The resistant starch present in maize helps to minimize the risk of obesity-related complications, cecal cancer and atherosclerosis.
Benefits of Corn

Edible Purposes
Corn can be processed into starch, cornmeal, snacks, tortillas, noodles, grits and corn flour. It can be consumed in various forms such as boiled, roasted or grilled and it can be preserved either by sun-drying, frozen, or canned. Maize flour can be used for baking loaves of bread, pancakes, chapatis, biscuits and flatbreads. Corn can be ground into flour or processed into corn-garri and paired together with cassava during preparation. The cooked final product can then be eaten with soup. Maize germ contains approximately 45 to 50% oil, which can be used for cooking food, baking, industrial production of corn-related products or dressing salads. Maize oil contains about 56% polyunsaturated fatty acids, 30% monounsaturated fatty acids and 14% saturated fatty acids. Refined maize oil contains about 54–60% linoleic acid, 25–31% oleic acid, 11–13% palmitic acid, 2–3% stearic acid and 1% linolenic acid. Maize oil is a rich source of tocopherols, which are a class of organic chemical compounds with vitamin E activity. Studies reveal that even a little tablespoon of maize oil meets up the essential fatty acids requirements for an adult or child.
Corn Silk

Benefits of Corn Silk
Another maize extract that is highly medicinal is the maize silk. Maize silk or corn silk has gained a global recognition due to its numerous health and medicinal benefits. Cornsilk is often collected from freshly plucked corn before being processed for subsequent use. Specifically, corn silk impedes certain bacteria from sticking to the lining of cells, helps to support the liver functioning, relieves bloating, tackles frequent urination and bed-wetting, treats chronic cystitis, treats chronic nephritis, treats gout, regulates the blood pressure, supports bile production, relieves symptoms of arthritis and tackles benign prostate hyperplasia. It also exhibits diuretic properties, antioxidative properties, anti-prostatitis properties, anti-spasmodic properties, anti-fatigue effects, antiproliferative effects on cancer cell line, assists in the passage of stone from kidney and urinary tract, treats gonorrhea, eliminates toxins from the body, improves the symptoms of PMS (e.g. bloating, tenderness of breasts), acts as a coagulant, increases exercise tolerance, improves the symptoms of PMS (e.g. bloating, tenderness of breasts) and effective for tackling obesity and weight loss.
Treatment of Urinary Tract Infection
Corn silk contains anti-inflammatory properties that tackle urinary tract infections. It envelopes the urinary tract lining so as to prevent itching, burning and further inflammation. Drinking corn silk tea soothes the urinary tract, an irritated prostate gland and an inflamed bladder, thereby aiding easy urination and minimizing the risk of bacteria accumulation in the urinary tract. These benefits of the cornsilk extract are attributed to its rich constituent of secondary metabolites such as flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids and terpenoids. In-vitro studies show that these metabolites specifically contain antimicrobial properties. In an experimental study, an aqueous extract of cornsilk prepared by adding 100ml of boiling water to 8gm of cornsilk was allowed to sit for 15 mins. The solution was allowed to cool down and then taken over 24 hours. Administering this aqueous cornsilk extract to the patients led to a significant reduction in UTI symptoms after 5, 10 and 20 days from the beginning of the treatment to baseline values. The results showed that there is a reduction in values of routine urine examination such as crystals, RBCs and pus cells. Therefore, cornsilk tea can be taken to soothe and treat the symptoms of UTI. Corn silk can also be combined with other stronger antiseptic herbs and used to tackle bladder infections.
Manages Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Chronic Kidney Disease is a common kidney disease that is characterised by a gradual reduction of kidney function over time thereby leading to kidney damage. If left untreated, waste products and extra fluids will accumulate in the blood thereby leading to sickness. Patients suffering from Chronic Kidney Disease have complications such as weak bones, high blood pressure, poor nutritional health, heart disease and anaemia. In folk medicine, corn silk is often used in the form of cornsilk tea for treating CKD. This is attributed to the fact that cornsilk tea has the ability to increase the urine output thereby eliminating the toxins and excess fluid out of the body. This tends to reduce the creatinine level and relieves the body swelling.
Diuretic Benefits
Corn silk tea exhibits strong diuretic effects thus it can be consumed to flush out excess water and toxins from the body. This helps to prevent the complications associated with water retention. Being an effective diuretic herb, corn silk can also help to eliminate unwanted potassium from the body system. Always consult your doctor before consuming corn silk tea if you are already taking a diuretic medicine as it can impact your medication.
Prevents Kidney Stone
Kidney stones are tiny crystallized deposits formed in the kidneys that inflict pain. Corn silk tea is a powerful home remedy for preventing the accumulation of kidney stones. The consumption of corn silk increases the urine flow and reduces the possibilities of toxins accumulation in the kidneys. It is noteworthy that consuming cornsilk tea does not treat kidney stones that have already accumulated.
Anti-Diabetic Effects
Diabetes is a health condition characterised by the body’s inability to produce or respond to the hormone insulin. This leads to abnormal metabolism of carbohydrates and elevated amounts of glucose in the blood. Corn silk extract is suitable for diabetic patients because it increases the insulin level and recovers the injured beta-cells. Researchers suggest that corn silk extract can be used as a hypoglycemic remedy or food for hyperglycemic people.
Reduces the Blood Pressure
Corn silk tea is a powerful remedy for reducing the blood pressure. Corn silk tea is a natural and safe remedy unlike some medications with side effects. Likewise, corn silk tea prevents the blood pressure from dropping so drastically, which is equally part of the reasons why it is suitable for those suffering from diabetes.
Anti-inflammatory Properties
Corn silk is known for its anti-inflammatory properties thus it can be used to reduce the pain caused by inflammatory ailments such as arthritis and gout. The diuretic ability of corn silk prevents the accumulation of excessive uric acid in the body joints, which leads to gout pain. Howbeit, corn silk tea cannot be used as a total cure for arthritis-related conditions.
Dermatological Care
Studies reveal that the intake of corn silk is helpful for tackling skin pigmentation problems such as vitiligo. It can also be applied externally to soothe and relieve the pain associated with skin problems such as boils, rashes and itches from bug bites, minor cuts and scrapes.
Regulates Minerals in the Body
The consumption of corn silk tea is important for regulating the level of essential minerals in the human body such as sodium and potassium etc. Sodium helps in the development of cognitive and mental abilities as well as the regulation of blood pressure.
Facilitates Oedema Recovery
Oedema is a health condition characterized by an excessive fluid accumulation in the cavities or tissues of the body. This usually happens when the heart becomes weak and fails to function. As a result of this, the heart fails to pump sufficient blood to various parts of the body thereby leading to impaired kidneys and fluid retention in the lungs and knees. Studies reveal that the intake of corn silk tea facilitates the recovery from peripheral or pulmonary oedema.
Oxidative properties
Corn silk extract contains phytochemicals such as terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, alkaloids, phenols, saponins, steroids and anthocyanins. These phytochemicals have antioxidant properties with free radical scavenging activity.
Tackles Obesity
Corn silk helps to maintain a healthy weight and inhibits weight gain by eliminating excessive water and toxins from the body. Drink corn silk tea 2 to 3 times daily for maximum benefits. Bear in mind that corn silk tea does not cure obesity rather helps to manage weight.
Anxiolytic Properties
Cornsilk extract possesses anxiolytic properties thus can be used as a herbal remedy for reducing anxiety and uneasiness.
Acts as a Coagulant
Corn Silk tea is an excellent constituent of vitamin K, which helps the blood to clot. Blood clotting prevents an individual from losing excessive blood when an injury occurs.
Maize Plantation

This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnostic and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
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