Maize(Zea mays) or corn is a cereal crop that is grown widely throughout the world in a range of agroecological environments. More maize is produced annually than any other grain. About 50 species exist and consist of different colors, textures and grain shapes and sizes. White, yellow and red are the most common types. The white and yellow varieties are preferred by most people depending on the region.
It is consumed as a vegetable although it is a grain crop. Maize is the most important cereal crop in Africa and an important staple food for more than 1.2 billion people in Africa. All parts of the crop can be used for food and non-food products.
A heavy reliance on maize in the diet, however, can lead to malnutrition and vitamin deficiency diseases such as night blindness and kwashiorkor. Most maize production in Africa is rain fed.
Maize is processed and prepared in various forms depending on the country. Ground maize is prepared into porridge in Eastern and Southern Africa, while maize flour is prepared into porridge in West Africa. Ground maize is also fried or baked in many countries. In all parts of Africa, green (fresh) maize is boiled or roasted on its cob and served as a snack. Popcorn is also a popular snack.
Grain is the most important part of maize crop. It is put to many uses.
Food: Maize is an all-important crop which provides an avenue for making various types of foods.In Cameroon,it is used for different dishes in many cultures;sanga,fufu corn,koki corn,pap(paste) etc.
Medicine:Stigmas from female maize flowers, popularly called corn silk, are sold as herbal supplements.
Chemical:Starch from maize can also be made into plastics, fabrics, adhesives, and many other chemical products.The corn steep liquor, a plentiful watery byproduct of maize wet milling process, is widely used in the biochemical industry and research as a culture medium to grow many kinds of microorganisms.
Biofuel:Maize cobs are also used as a biomass fuel source. Maize is increasingly used as a feedstock for the production of ethanol fuel.
The grains are rich in vitamins A, C and E, carbohydrates, and essential minerals, and contain 9% protein. They are also rich in dietary fiber and calories which are a good source of energy. Corn is rich in vitamin B constituents, especially Thiamin and Niacin. characterised by diarrhoea, dementia and dermatitis and is commonly observed in malnourished individuals.
Corn is also a good source of Pantothenic acid which is a vitamin necessary for carbohydrate as well as protein and lipid metabolism in the body.
Health benefits of corn include controlling diabetes, prevention of heart ailments, lowering hypertension and prevention of neural-tube defects at birth.
It not only provides the necessary calories for daily metabolism, but is a rich source of vitamins A, B, E and many minerals.
The antioxidants present in corn also act as anti-cancer agents and prevent Alzheimer’s.
Rich Source of Vitamins: Thiamin is essential for maintaining nerve health and cognitive function. Niacin deficiency leads to Pellagra; a disease Deficiency of folic acid in pregnant women leads to birth of underweight infants and may also result in neural tube defects at birth. Corn provides a large chunk of the daily folate requirement. Yellow corn is a rich source of beta-carotene which forms vitamin A in the body, essential for maintenance of good vision and skin. The kernels of corn are rich in vitamin E, a natural antioxidant essential for growth.
Provides Necessary Minerals: Corn contains abundant phosphorus apart from magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and copper. It also contains trace minerals like selenium. Phosphorus is essential for maintenance of normal growth, bone health and normal kidney functioning. Magnesium is necessary for maintaining normal heart rate and for bone strength.
Prevention of Haemorrhoids and Colorectal Cancer: The fibre content of one cup of corn amounts 18.4% of the daily recommended amount. This aids in alleviating digestive problems such as constipation and haemorrhoids, as well as lowering the risk of colon cancer.
Cardio-Protective Attributes: According to researchers, corn oil has been shown to anti-atherogenic effect on the cholesterol levels, thus preventing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Prevents Anaemia: The vitamin B12 and folic acid present in corn prevent anaemia caused by the deficiency of these vitamins.
Cosmetic Benefits: Corn starch is used in the manufacture of many cosmetics and may also be applied topically to soothe skin rashes and irritations. Corn products can be used to replace carcinogenic petroleum products which form major components of cosmetic preparations.