Scholars now widely accept that maize, domesticated from a wild grass called teosinte, was first harvested about 9,200 years ago in Mexico. And while it looked nothing like our modern day corn and offered very little in nutritional value, by 2000 B.C. it supported several remarkable Early American civilizations, including the Maya, Inca, and Aztecs.

So important was this staple crop to their cultures, that the Aztecs celebrated a harvest festival in honor of Xilonon, goddess of red corn. The Maya believed it to be a central part of their creation story (in their sacred text, the Popol Vuh, the gods created people out of cornmeal).

Though it is not clear when purple corn was first cultivated, some researchers believe it may have existed before the Spanish Conquest.Suntava Purple Corn

Looking to ancient strains for answers
Modern day corn is almost unrecognizable from its ancestor, teosinte—though its genetic structure proves to be quite similar. Research has shown that regulatory genes were responsible for the appearance and size of the cob, and that it was a random mutation in one of these regulatory genes that gave rise to corn.

Suntava® founders and their team of corn breeders have studied ancient maize strains in search of genes that may improve insect, drought, and disease resistance, as well as deliver added health benefits.

PURPLE CORN'S unique characteristics
Suntava Purple Corn is a significant source of natural dyes and three powerful antioxidants:
  • Cyanidin-3-Glucoside
  • Pelargonidin
  • Peonidin

The benefits of PURPLE CORN

Recent studies of vegetables containing high concentrations of anthocyanins, the pigment that imparts the vibrant color found in purple corn, have identified a number of important health benefits:
  • Potent anti-cancer agent—Ohio State University researchers found that anthocyanin extract reduced cancer cell growth in rats and human cancer cells.
  • Obesity and diabetes preventative and cure—Scientists at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan found that dietary C3G prevented obesity in mice. Researchers are hopeful that a similar link in humans will be found on further study.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties—Researchers at Tokai Gakuen University in Nagoya, Japan confirmed the anti-inflammatory response of C3G, a benefit belived to be inherent in anthocyanins.

Ohio State University press release, Compounds that color fruits and veggies may protect against colon cancer, August 20, 2007.

The Journal of Nutrition, Dietary Cyanidin 3-O-ß-D-Glucoside-Rich Purple Corn Color Prevents Obesity and Ameliorates Hyperglycemia in Mice, 133:2125-2130, July 2003.

Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, Molecular Mechanisms Behind the Chemopreventive Effects of Anthocyanidins. 2004; 2004(5): 321-325.

Functional Ingredients, The chemistry of anthocyanins, by Fabio Galvano, July, 2005.

British Journal of Nutrition, Absorption, tissue distribution and excretion of pelargonidin and its metabolites following oral administration to rats. 2006, 95, 51-58.

European Journal of Cancer, Anthocyanins from fruits and vegetables--Does bright colour signal cancer chemopreventive activity?. 2005, 41, 1931-1940.

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, Peonidin Inhibits Phorbol-Ester--Induced COX-2 Expression and Transformation in JB6 P Cells by Blocking Phosphorylation of ERK-1 and -2. 2007, 1095: 513-520.

The Journal of Nutrition, Dietary Cyanidin 3-O-ß-D-Glucoside-Rich Purple Corn Color Prevents Obesity and Ameliorates Hyperglycemia in Mice, 133:2125-2130, July 2003.

The Journal of Nutritional Science Vitaminol Cyanidin 3-O-beta-D-glucoside suppresses nitric oxide production during a zymosan treatment in rats. 2002 Aug;48(4):305-10.
Junior College Division, Tokai Gakuen University, 2-901 Nakahira, Tenpaku-ku, Nagoya 468-8514, Japan.
research notes
"If one looks closely he will find that everything (the Maya) did and talked about had to do with maize; in truth, they fell little short of making a god of if their corn fields were their final goal and ultimate happiness."

–Quoted from a 16th century manuscript, reprinted in “The Ancient Maya”, by Dr. Morley

Newsletter Sign-up