Ingredient of the month: Purple corn
What is it?
Purple corn is a variety of Zea maize, a crop native to the low valleys of the Andes.

Where does it come from? Purple corn is found primarily in Peru and is grown along the coast, as well as in areas almost 10,000 feet in elevation.

When was it discovered?
Purple corn is the offspring of its ancestor kculli, which can still be found in Peru. Kculli is an ancient and eminent symbol of the Mochica culture and archaeologists have found corn-shaped artifacts that date back at least 2,500 years.

How is it beneficial?
A significant source of phenolics and anthocyanins, purple corn may promote blood flow and reduce cholesterol, and is thought to be an effective instrument in fighting obesity.

What can be done with it?
In addition to chica morada, the drink locals make with it, purple corn can be consumed in the form of cobs, kernels, ground food powder and an atomized purple corn extract with six per cent anthocyaninin concentration.

—Ashley Canty

Industry insights from NBJ

Functional foods usage in US adults

Heavy Consumers


Regular Consumers


Occasional Consumers


Rare Users




  • Heavy Consumers represent spending of $50/month and include use of multiple categories and/or high-end products like those containing sterols and probiotics.
  • Regular Consumers represent spending of $20/month and include regular users of sports and energy drinks, soy milk, nutrition bars, enriched juices and/or highly enriched cereals.
  • Occasional Consumers represent spending of $7.50/month and somewhat haphazard purchases, mostly in beverages and convenience foods.
  • Rare Users represent spending of $3/month.

Source: Nutrition Business Journal, NBJ's Healthy Foods Report 2005

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