Health & Nutrition

Corn (Maize): Simple Facts, Uses, and Benefits To Know

Corn also known as maize has the botanical name, Zea Mays.

Here in Nigeria, different ethnic groups have a name for the crop, Oka (Igbo’s), Agbado (Yoruba,s) and Masara (Hausas).

Although now cultivated throughout the whole world maize originated in Mexico.

The grain got into the African continent in the 16th century and spread throughout the continent in the 19th century.

Corn (Maize) in Nigeria

Large, small scale farmers and households, grow maize in all part of Nigeria.

The forest zones vegetation (mangrove swamp and tropical rain forest) is where corn was first grown in the country.

However large scale production has moved to the northern guinea savanna (found in parts of Kaduna, Kwara, Benue and Kogi state).

Currently, Kaduna state is the largest producer of Corn in Nigeria.

Nigeria produced 11500 metric tons of Maize in 2020, which has significantly grown from 931 metric tons produced in 1971, thus causing an increased average annual rate of 7.57%. (Knoema)

Therefore, making Nigeria the 12th largest producer of Corn in the world and second in Africa after South Africa. (Knoema)

People from different ethnic groups consume corn (maize) a staple food in Nigeria in various ways.

It has become an important crop and has even replaced other grains like sorghum and millet.

Additionally, Corn is the world’s highest supplier of calories giving about 19.5% followed by rice at 16.5% and wheat at 15.0%.

Just to mention, the corn plant is grown from its seed (the grain) and it is an annual crop.

See Also: Planting Corn: Easy Steps On How To Plant Corn.

Nutritional Facts of Corn

Yellow Corn Raw 100g

Water                                   10.4g
Proximate Nutritional Composition of Corn

Thiamin                            0.385mg
Riboflavin                       0.201mg
Pantothenic acid           0.424mg
Vitamin B6                           0.622
Vitamin B12                                 0
Niacin                                3.63mg
Folate                                    19ug
Ascorbic acid                       0 mg                     
Vitamin A                              11ug
Vitamin Composition

Calcium                                    7mg
Phosphorus                        210mg
Iron                                     2.71mg
Potassium                           287mg
Magnesium                        127mg
Copper                             0.314mg
Zinc                                     2.21mg
Sodium                        35mg
Manganese           0.485mg
Selenium 15.5mg
Mineral Composition

Source (USDA)

Uses of Corn (Maize)

Corn (maize) is used in various ways and in different industries from the grain (seed) to the other parts of the corn plant.

Food uses

Home meals

In Nigeria this grain is used in the making of several homemade dishes and snacks, which varies from one cultural group to another and some eaten by everyone, for example:

Firstly, Fresh Corn is boiled, roasted/grilled or baked, either whole or when removed from the cob.

Secondly, the fresh grain can be part of a Salad recipe.

Thirdly, fresh corn is taken as a snack with African Pear (Ube) or Coconut,

Next, fresh grain can be cooked alongside other grains in some instances, it is cooked with Beans to make Beans and Corn Porridge,

Next, the fresh grain when blended is used to make other meals like Moi Moi Oka, Cornmeal (Nri Oka).

Then, dry grains are processed to make various foods like Pap (Akamu), Tuwo, Agidi/Eko, Agidi Jollof and snacks such as Kokoro, Donkwa to mention a few.

Finally, Popcorn a type of corn is not excluded in making great snack too.

See Also: Pap for Food: What You Need To Know

Industrial food uses

Maize is processed and used in various ways for food as well as an ingredient in food products, Some of the processed foods are namely:

  • Corn flour,
  • Corn starch is an ingredient in so many food products and can be used as a binding agent in soups,
  • As a sweetener be it corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup these are used as alternatives to sugar in many food products like candy, cookies etc.
  • Corn oil,

Additionally, it’s used in products like beverages, beer, salad dressing and peanut butter.

Pharmaceutical uses

  • Cereal products are also used for drugs and other pharmaceutical products like injections, pills tablets, and surgical dressings.
  • Also serves as a binding agent in some medications,
  • And also used in the making of penicillin an antibiotics.

Cosmetic uses

Even the cosmetic industry is not excluded, for instance, Corn products are used in making

  • Cream,
  • Powder,
  • Soap and
  • Shampoo.

Other Industrial Uses

Likewise maize products can be found in:

  • Paper products like cardboard and wallpapers,
  • Textiles,
  • Adhesives,
  • Paints and Dyes,
  • Plastic
  • Matches,
  • crayons and chalk as a binder,
  • Toothpaste and detergents,
  • In addition, it is used in the making of biofuel (ethanol) in countries like the United States.

Animal uses of Maize

The crop is also used in making feed for

  • Livestock (Cow, Sheep, And Goat),
  • Poultry (Chicken, Turkey),
  • Swine (Pig),
  • And Fish (Catfish).

Grains are usually the major ingredient in animal feed and corn (maize) is favoured above all other grains. This is as a result of its fibre and high starch content which gives a high level of energy at a lower cost.

Types of maize (corn)

The types of maize in Nigeria are:

  • Yellow corn,
  • White corn,
  • Popcorn
  • And sweet corn (although sweetcorn is not so popular but gradually becoming known in the country)

Various varieties of the corn (maize) type mentioned above exist especially for yellow and white corn

Popular Companies in Nigeria Producing Improved Maize Seeds Are

  • AgriSeedco Nigeria Ltd Kaduna – Hybrid (e.g. SC645, SC510).
  • Premier Seed Nigeria. Ltd Zaria – Hybrid Maize (e.g. Oba Super 1 white, Oba Super 2 yellow), Open Pollinated Maize (e.g. Sammaz 14, Sammaz 15).
  • International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) Ibadan – Hybrid, Breeder, Foundation Maize they come in both yellow and white colour.

Health benefits of Corn

From the nutritional table above we see the nutritional composition present in the grain each of the elements benefits our health one way or the other, let’s look at some of the benefits.

makes for a healthy digestive system

Firstly, its high fibre content helps in pushing waste out of the body system, preventing, constipation and haemorrhoids.

Reduces the chances of cancer

Secondly, The presence of phenolic, ferulic acid, beta-cryptoxanthin (good for the lungs), rich fibre content and the ability to lower cholesterol (which promote colon health) makes the grain good for reducing the chances of cancer in the body.

Aids red blood cell production

Thirdly, Iron, folic acid and vitamin B6 are essential minerals for the production of red blood cells and in fact, maize is rich in these minerals.

Good for the eyes

Next, Antioxidants, carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin which is present in the cereal in a good amount has considerably good benefits on the eyes. Therefore improving good eyesight.

Good for pregnancy

furthermore, Its benefits on the digestive system, as mentioned above such as preventing constipation and haemorrhoid is advantageous to the expecting mother.

Moreover, The presence of folic acid, zeaxanthin, vitamins like thiamine, and pantothenic acid present in the grain reduces the chances of birth defects during pregnancy.

Reduces diabetics

In conclusion, It’s high in fibre and helps in reducing cholesterol level which aids the reduction of blood sugar level in diabetics. Polyphenols present in the grain is said to prevent type two diabetics.

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Ify Omeire

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