MAIZE: Potential Source of Human Nutrition & Health Benefits: Dhan Maya Tamang

Dhan Maya Tamang
BSc. Ag, Second semester
IAAS, Paklihawa

Introduction  

Maize or corn (Zea mays) is a member of the grass family (Poaceae) which is one of the important cereal crop of the world. Maize is also considered as the staple food in many parts of the world. It is the second most staple crop after rice in terms of area and production in Nepal. The demand of maize has been growing constantly about 5% annually in the last decades. The world production of maize was 976 million metric tons (MMT).

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Due to its high yielding capacity among the cereal crops it is globally considered as queen of cereals. According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 54%, 19%, 13.8%, and 14% were used for feed, food manufacture, direct food, and bioethanol, respectively. It is also used for the production of many indigenous foods like: flours, cooking oils, breads, alcoholic beverages etc.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF MAIZE

Depending on the variety, maize may contain a number of important nutrition like; folic acid, pro-vitamin A (i.e. precursor to vitamin A), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (niacin), vitamin B3 (riboflavin) vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) etc. Maize is also rich in phosphorous, zinc, copper, iron, magnesium, selenium and also has small amount of calcium and potassium. So maize is one of the good source of dietary fiber and protein which contains a very low fat and sodium (salt).

Also maize silk contains various constituents essential for diet such as sugar, fixed oils, resins and fibers. Maize germ contains about 45-50% of the oil that is being used in cooking. The oil contains 14% saturated fatty acids, 30% mono saturated fatty acids and 56% polyunsaturated fatty acids. The two main forms of vitamin E present in our diet are alpha and gamma tocopherols. and maize oil is rich source of these tocopherols, especially gamma tocopherols which provides a proper diet to human body.

Phytochemicals are bioactive chemicals compound which are naturally present in plants which have the potential for reducing the risk of major chronic diseases (Liu, 2004). Maize is an essential source of major phytochemicals such as carotenoid (which belongs to the family of red, orange, and yellow pigments and large quantity of carotenoid pigments present in yellow maize grain), phenolic compounds and phytosterols.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF MAIZE

Maize has several health benefits because of the high fiber content, it can aid with digestion. It contains valuable B vitamins, which are important to our overall health. Also the B – complex in maize are good for heart, brain, skin and for proper digestion. 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 which present in maize has diuretic properties. also maize silk has many benefits associated with regarding the human health. In many countries like India, China, France it used to treat diseases like urinary infection, jaundice, kidney stones and fluid retention. And it has potential to improve blood pressure and support liver functioning. It also acts as a good emollient for ulcers, wounds etc.

The presence of essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid in maize oil play an important role in the human diet by maintaining blood pressure and preventing cardiovascular maladies. Thus the consumption of maize oil in a long term period can reduce cholesterol, concentrations and prevents from many diseases like; atherosclerotic diseases.

Till now maize is believed to have potential anti –HIV activity due to the presence of Galanthus nivalis agglutinin (GNA) lectin which also referred as GNA maize. Lectins are special protein found in maize. And zein an alcohol soluble protamine is an important compound in maize endosperm.

It is considered as nontoxic, and biodegradable protein which possess a great potential to provide important to health benefits to human beings. The Resistant Starch present in maize helps to reduce the symptoms of diarrhea, reduce the risk of cecal cancer and atherosclerosis and this resistant starch as dietary fibers helps to control the body weight.

Though having these importance, production of maize has been declining due to lack of hybrid seeds, lack of irrigation facilities mainly in hilly region and also due to lack of fertile land in hilly area.

CONCLUSION

Maize is a healthy food for balance diet due to the presence of different nutrients and phytochemicals. so the daily consumption is required for proper balance diet to human beings. So the production of maize should be increased by applying proper plan and by encouraging the farmers to produces maize.     

हाम्रो मोबाइल एप डाउनलोड गर्नुभयो ? अब सबै खाले कृषि मापक, अर्गानिक कृषि, नवीनतम कृषि, व्यावसायिक पशुपालन, खेती प्रविधि, बाली रोग तथा किरा व्यवस्थापन सहित सम्पूर्ण कृषि प्रविधिसम्बन्धि जानकारीको लागि हाम्रो एप डाउनलोड गर्न तलको फोटोमा Click गर्नुहोला | 

                                                                                                                        

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