Purple Corn Fights Cancer

Purple Corn (frequently referred to as blue corn) is fast approaching classification as a functional food—an integral component of the diet that provides energy and essential nutrients. Purple Corn is botanically the same species as regular table corn. Research has shown that Purple Corn contains cell-protecting antioxidants with the ability to inhibit carcinogen-induced tumors in rats. Many plant-derived substances are believed to show these properties, but few have also demonstrated anti-inflammatory capabilities and the potential to help prevent obesity.

The kernels of Purple Corn (maiz morado in Spanish) have long been used by the people of the Peruvian Andes to color foods and beverages, a practice just beginning to become popularized in the industrialized world. They also make a fermented/alcoholic drink from the kernels which they call chicha morada.

Purple Corn Antioxidant Power

Chances are you’ve heard about the health value of blueberries. With their deep blue color, they’re high in anthocyanins, a form of flavonoids. The flavonoids found in blueberries may provide protection against disease by upping the antioxidant defenses in the body. Like blueberries, purple corn is chock full of anthocyanins.

Research from Texas A&M shows the “antioxidant capacity and anti-radical action were more than twice that measured in blueberries.”
(Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, May, 2003)

On top of that, “anthocyanins from purple corn and chokeberries not only completely stopped the growth of cancer cells, but also killed
about 21 percent of cancer cells without having any effect on healthy cells.” (Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, October 22, 2008)

Purple corn and blueberries are not the cure-all in and of themselves, but should be part of a varied diet rich in colorful vegetables.
The more color in your vegetables the better. Nothing beats a whole food diet.

For thousands of years, the people of the Andes have soaked Purple Corn to make a refreshing drink called chicha, which is now recognized
as a nutritive powerhouse due to its extremely high anthocyaninin content.

Anthocyaninins are miracle molecules found in darkly colored fruits and vegetables. They’re being studied for their ability to improve everything from cardiovascular health to collagen regeneration. There’s also been some very promising studies on their effects on cancer cells.

  • Higher antioxidant capacity and free radical fighting ability than any other grain or fruit.
  • Substantial amounts of phenolics and anthocyanins, among other beneficial phytochemicals.
  • CG3, the anthocyanin found in Purple Corn, is among the most potent antioxidants in existence.

Purple Corn Studies & Benefits

Studies show that a diet rich in polyphenolic compounds is associated with reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Recent research in both animals and humans have shown that increasing polyphenol intake can:

  • Protect against atherosclerosis
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces blood clots
  • Elevates antioxidant capacity of the blood

A study by Tsuda et al in 2003 revealed the effects of purple corn on obesity and diabetes. Two groups consumed a diet rich in fats for 12
weeks, but one of the groups also received purple corn pigments. The group consuming the purple corn:

  • Didn’t gain any weight
  • Didn’t suffer hypertrophy in the adiposities of the fat tissues
  • Didn’t show hyperglycemia (low blood sugar), hyperinsulinemia (too much insulin in the blood, which is the beginning of diabetes), or
    hyperleptinemia (increased serum leptin levels, which is another marker for diabetes).

In comparison, the group that didn’t receive the extract and ate only a fat rich diet, showed an increase in all of those areas, thus showing
the incredible benefits for fighting obesity and diabetes.

A Japanese study at Nagoya University showed that the pigment in purple corn impedes the development of cancer in the colon.

Purple Corn also known as Chicha Morada, Purple Corn Drink is considered for most the national Peruvian soft drink that generations have enjoyed due to its multiple benefits. This refreshing natural beverage with herbal flavor has been traditionally served with everyday meals, on special occasions, simply chilled to quench the thirst after an exhaustive workout, in smoothie version, and more recently in combination with other alcoholic drinks such as Pisco or Sangria.

Although scientific studies in the past were almost non-conclusive or inexistent, Purple Corn (Zea Mays L.) was also cultivated as medicine
by the Native People of Peru. Purple Corn, the main ingredient of Purple Corn Drink – Chicha Morada, has proven to be a powerful natural
antioxidant due to the Anthocyanin pigments that provide the full dark texture to the beverage. Anthocyanin pigments are also responsible
for keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in normal range.

In 2003 researchers from Doshisha University in Kyoto reported that when scientists gave mice high-fat diets augmented with an Anthocyanin-pigmented extract from Purple Corn the animals maintained normal weights. Mice on the same diet but without the extract became obese. Moreover, only the latter group of animals developed excessive sugar and insulin concentrations in their blood.

In 2004 the same Japanese team (“Tsuda′s”) showed that Purple Corn Extract increased the activity of a gene that regulates the
function of fat cells. “This is the first food component to do so” the scientists reported in the March 26, 2004 according to Biochemical and
Biophysical Research Communications. They also recommended that Anthocyanin, the basic component of Purple Corn, be explored as nutritional supplements for “preventing obesity and diabetes”.

Recent studies at the Ohio State University mentioned that Anthocyanin was found to play an important roll in preventing the
degeneration of cells in organs of humans and animals. According to Nutraceuticals World Magazine “it has also been verified that drinking

Purple Corn Drink – Chicha Morada inhibits bad cholesterol, protects the retina, stimulates blood circulation and prevents the development
of colorectal cancer”.

The major anthocyanins isolated in Purple Corn and believed to play a pivotal role in fighting these diseases are as follows:

  • Cyanidin-3-D-glucoside
  • Pelargonidin-3-D-glucoside
  • Peonidin-3-O-D-glucoside
  • Cyanidin-3-D-(6-malonyl-glucoside)
  • Pelargonidin-3-D-(6-malonyl glucoside)
  • Peonidin-3-D-(6-malonyl-glucoside)

Recent studies on the anti-oxidant/anti-inflammatory and other disease fighting activities have emphasized the relative potency of cyanidin-3-D-glucoside. Compared to other anthocyanin rich fruits and vegetables, Purple Corn has one of the highest concentrations of cyanidin-3-D-glucoside levels leading to a significant interest among the scientific community.

Purple Cancer Anti-Cancer Studies

In a cancer study, Hagiwara et al., (2001) have illustrated purple corn’s ability to suppress colorectal cancer. When purple corn was administered to mice with colorectal carcinomas, the lesions significantly decreased. Research into the efficacy of Purple Corn to help combat colorectal cancer is promising.

Purple Corn’s Role in Vascular Integrity

In the vascular system, endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) produces nitric oxide. High nitric oxide levels aid in relaxing the blood
vessels and is a good indicator of overall vascular integrity. Xu et al., (2004) have shown that cyanidin-3-D-glucoside increases eNOS
production which in turn relaxes vascular endothelial cells and indirectly affects blood pressure.

Anti-obesity and Diabetes Studies

Research has shown that purple corn potentially has a significant role in controlling weight and hyperglycemia. In an obesity study, a wide
range of experiments validated cyanidin-3-D-glucoside from purple corn function as an anti-obesity and an anti-diabetic agent. Tsudaet al.,
(2004) have shown that in animal models adipocytokine production increased when cyanidin-3-D-glucoside was administered.

Adipocytokines, such as adiponectin and leptin, are intricate proteins in the plasma that are valuable markers in glucose homeostasis.

Weight gain was apparent in over-fed mice; however, when over-fed mice were administered cyanidin-3-D-glucoside, they were unable to
gain weight. It was also established by Ryan et al., (2003) that in obese or diabetic human subjects, adiponectin levels are substantially low.

When weight loss occurs, adiponectin levels are increased and restored to normalcy. Hyperglycemia usually leads to diabetes and obesity.

When weight gain occurs, it is generally followed by excessive glucose levels in the plasma leading to hyperglycemia. Due to excessive glucose levels, glucose is converted to fats/triglycerides and stored in adipose tissue. Tsuda’s team investigated purple corn’s role in fat metabolism and found in mice that weight gain was suppressed, triglyceride (LDL, fatty acids) accumulation in adipocytes (fat cells) was reduced, and hyperglycemia (excessive glucose in the plasma) was reversed as well.

Other aspects attributed to Purple Corn according to Hugo Malaspina, M.D. are:

  • Favors skin tissue regeneration having an anti-wrinkle effect.
  • Slows down general degenerative processes due to high concentration of antioxidants.
  • Prevents cardiovascular diseases.
  • Increases and stimulates blood, diuretic and digestive circulation.
  • Purple Corn Extract and Purple Corn Drink – Chicha Morada are also used in weight loss programs throughout the USA and Latin America
  • As nutritional supplements, they are consumed as antioxidants to help minimize the damage induced by free radical.
  • As diuretic supplements, Purple Corn is widely used for regulating urine production and assisting the digestive system.

Purple Corn Drink Benefits

  • Purple Corn Drink – Chicha Morada is a 100% natural beverage that comes in filter bags.
  • Purple Corn Drink – Chica Morada contains zero calories, sugar, acid, additives or preservatives. It also helps upset stomachs, gastritis and acidity symptoms.
  • Anthocyanin pigments, found in Purple Corn (Zea Mays L.), are considered a powerful antioxidant and a great ally in the fight against
    diabetes, obesity and colon cancer.
  • Anthocyanin is also responsible for keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in normal range.
  • Purple Corn is a potent diuretic that regulates urine production and assists the digestive system.
  • Purple Corn Drink can be enjoyed at any time. It only takes 8 minutes to prepare 2 liters.
  • The aroma and flavor of this antioxidant beverage has been described as “herbal essences”.

For Weight Loss and Detox Chicha morada is a summer drink made from purple corn or maiz morado. Its origins date back to the Incan Empire and it’s still a popular drink among modern Peruvians.

Not only is it refreshing, it also curbs your appetite and has incredible antioxidant levels – even higher than blueberries!

In addition, Chica Morada may also have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties, promote blood flow, reduce cholesterol and play a beneficial role in supporting healthy blood sugar levels.

How to Make Purple Corn Drink


  • 1 lb of purple corn cobs or ¼ lb of purple corn kernels
  • 4 quarts of water
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 cloves
  • Sweetener (True Blue Agave, Yacon Syrup, or several handfuls of pineapple chunks)
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 cup of fresh fruit


  • To get your own fix, fill a pot with the cobs or kernels and add about 4 quarts of water. Add cloves and cinnamon sticks. Either soak
    overnight (for a raw recipe) or bring the water to boil over high heat (for a faster recipe).
  • Cover the pot and let it simmer for about one hour. It will turn a very cool eggplant purple color.
  • Pour the liquid into a glass container if you don’t have the traditional urpu jar. Fill the pot up with water again, and cook over low heat.
  • After about 1 hour, pour the liquid into the same glass container
  • Squeeze a ½ cup of fresh limes into the mixture.
  • Let it cool down and then put it in the refrigerator. You will be set for the whole week!

Chicha morada makes a unique punch to serve at a summer barbecue! Garnish with fruit when ready to serve. For a festive party, add a
couple of shots of Pisco to give your brew a little zing. Some Peruvians add Aji peppers for a kicked-up version called chicha picante.

For a simpler process, try adding purple corn extract to your smoothies, juices, desserts or sauces, either as a nutrient-boost or as a natural food-coloring.

Buy Purple Corn Products Online

Search Google.com for Purple Corn Products

Purple Corn Research Links

The Antioxidant Power of Purple Corn: A Research Review

A 90-day oral toxicity study of purple corn color, a natural food colorant, in F344 rats.

Anthocyanins isolated from Purple Corn.

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