Maize is one of the most common vegetables in Uganda. It can be eaten roasted, steamed, boiled or grilled. It can also be added to salads, or dried and ground into flour. It can also be added to soups, stews.
According to Lilian Nyanzi, a nutritionist, maize is packed with nutrients such as vitamin C, B, E, K, protein, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, magnesium and potassium.
Improve bowel movements
The high dietary fibre content in maize bulks up stool, which helps improve bowel movements, preventing haemorrhoids as well as other digestive health problems such as constipation and minimizing the risk of colon cancer.
Nyanzi says yellow maize is a good source of carotenoid compounds that give it its unique colour. These protect the eye tissues from oxidative damage and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and lens damage, which leads to cataracts.
An intake of maize or its products can help improve heart health thereby reducing the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. This is because it contains Omega 3 fatty acids that help rid the body of bad cholesterol.
It also prevents your arteries from getting clogged, thereby controlling your blood pressure. This in turn lowers your risk of getting heart attacks and strokes.
Maize has high amounts of vitamin B, which facilitates growth, nerve health and cognitive function. The starchy vegetable is also loaded with high amounts of carbohydrates and calories. Maize can be a part of one’s daily diet but the recommended amount is about two to four times per week.
Good for adolescent girls and expectant mothers
Maize is also known for having high amounts of folic acid which is good for pregnant women because it helps in the development of the foetus. It also contains iron, which helps your body form new blood cells, which is important when it comes to preventing anemia.
Possible side effects
“As a cereal maize is susceptible to contamination by fungi, which produces mycotoxins that are considered a significant health concern. Throw away any maize product that has mold,” Nyanzi advises.
When buying maize from the market, choose corn that has firm, plump kernels. Do not buy cobs with signs of mold, insects, or decay. You can find fresh corn in most markets near you.
Nyanzi adds that gluten intolerance or celiac disease may be related with maize because it contains proteins known as zein that are related to gluten. If you have sensitive skin, or are prone to allergies, consult a doctor before adding corn to your meals.
Excess consumption of maize or its products is likely to interfere with your weight loss goals because of its high carbohydrate content. It is, therefore, important that you eat it moderately.
Corn syrup is in many countries considered worse than sugar and is identified as a leading cause of obesity. It puts one at risk for type 2 diabetes because it negatively impacts the levels of sugar in your blood.
Storage and food safety
Maize is best eaten shortly after it is picked. The longer it stays, the less tasty it is. You can store maize in the refrigerator with the husks on if you were unable to cook or consume all of it.
Raw maize that has been removed from the husk should be used within one to two days. Keep cooked corn in the refrigerator for up to four to five days.
“Corn can also be frozen or canned at home. Use dry or preserved corn products by the dates specified on the product label. Always remember to check on the expiry dates before you make your meals,” Lilian Nyanzi, a nutritionist, warns.