The many uses of purple corn
November 8, 2016
by Joanie Spencer
Purple, a rare color in nature, is often associated with anthocyanins and good nutrition, thanks to foods like HFI’s Suntava Purple Corn.
Nutritionists and healthy eating advocates often encourage people to “eat a rainbow” — in other words, consume a variety of highly colored, and thus nutrient-dense, fruits and vegetables. As this movement continues, certain colors are becoming quickly associated with good nutrition, and purple is no exception, thanks to super foods like purple corn, specifically, products such as Suntava Purple Corn from Healthy Food Ingredients (HFI).
A rare color in nature, purple is typically associated with anthocyanins, a type of antioxidant known to aid in cardiovascular, colon, brain and vision health, as well as healthy blood sugar levels and more. “You might call anthocyanins a ‘total body’ antioxidant with total body benefits,” said Terry Howell, business development for the Suntava brand.
Published research reveals that, on average, North Americans consume about 12.5 mg anthocyanins per day. However, people with higher levels of anthocyanin intake are now showing lower incidence of chronic illness such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more. And purple corn naturally has a high anthocyanin level, even above that of blueberries, a food often associated with the nutrient.
“In our case, the color demonstrates that the anthocyanins are abundant in Suntava Purple Corn,” said Bill Petrich, president, Suntava. In fact, HFI’s product testing and R&D revealed that a 1-oz serving of tortilla chips made with Suntava Purple Corn contains anywhere from 19 to 30 mg anthocyanins.
“That means a person can eat a serving of tortilla chips made with purple corn and actually do the body good by increasing the daily intake of anthocyanins,” Mr. Howell said.
Beyond health benefits, Suntava Purple Corn also acts as a natural colorant that can make for striking — even surprising — products. “We’ve seen some creative things done with purple corn that just aren’t done with other ingredients,” Mr. Petrich said.
Imagine sourdough bread made with 10 to 20% purple corn flour. It has a traditional brown crust but, when sliced open, reveals a purple interior. “Anthocyanins respond to pH and heat,” Mr. Howell said. These ingredients provide natural colors ranging from pink to nearly black.
Under the HFI portfolio, Suntava Purple Corn is certified gluten-free, GFSI certified and Non-GMO Project Verified. It is available as a whole kernel or further processed into a pregel flour, grits, snack meal, nectar and more. In addition to fitting the needs of traditional products such as breads and tortillas, the whole kernels and other formats can be used as inclusions in products including cereals, bars, and extruded and popped snacks. The nectar is ideal for various applications as well, such as acting as an effective binding agent for bars. HFI also offers micro-reduction as an option for Suntava Purple Corn.
As colorful foods become more associated with healthy eating, products made with Suntava Purple Corn will drive consumer awareness to the total body benefits anthocyanins bring to baked foods and snacks. For more information on Suntava Purple Corn and other products in the HFI portfolio, visit www.hfifamily.com.