The Heavenly Blog 

Bowl of Heaven shares the health of acai bowls

Purple Corn: A Hidden Peruvian Gem 

Purple Corn Stalk

Have you ever tried the Purple Rain Smoothie at Bowl of Heaven? Were you aware of Purple Corn, the superfood used in the smoothie? Purple Corn may seem new to most of us, but it’s been around for centuries.

Grown in the mountains and along the coast of Peru for thousands of years, the corn was boiled which created a dark, purple juice that was mixed with pineapple juice for the first version of chicha morada. Then, possibly with the Spanish colonialization, spices were added, creating a chicha morada that more closely resembles the current version, which is some variation of purple corn, pineapple, cinnamon, clove, and sugar; sometimes quince, apple, and lime juice are added, as well. Our smoothie is based on chicha morada–without the sugar, of course!

So what are some of the possible benefits of this unique, exotic juice?

For starters, the rich purple color in Purple Corn comes from the phytochemical anthocyanin. For any etymology nuts out there, “anthocyanin” is derived from the Greek terms, anthos, meaning flower, and kyanos, meaning blue. (Kong J, Chia L, Goh N, Chia T, Brouillard R. Analysis and biological activities of anthocyanins. Phytochemistry. 2003;64:923-933.) Foods with the highest anthocyanin and phenolic content—like purple corn—have the highest antioxidant activity.

“Anthocyaninins are a type of complex flavonoid that produces blue, purple or red colors. Anthocyaninins are anti-inflammatory and encourage connective tissue regeneration. As well as being powerful antioxidants that keep us looking young and protected from disease, they promote blood flow and reduce cholesterol.”

A study by Tsuda, et al. found that the anthocyanin in Purple Corn—referred to as PCC in the study—“may be beneficial for helping to prevent diabetes and obesity.” Researchers found that participants fed a high-fat diet with the addition of purple corn did not gain weight, compared to the control group fed a high-fat diet without purple corn. Details of the study can be found here.

From its anti-inflammatory properties to its high antioxidant levels, Purple Corn is a powerful superfood. We use it in our Purple Rain smoothie, along with Coconut milk, organic cinnamon (perfect during the holiday season!), and delicious fruits to round out the taste. Cinnamon is especially festive at this time of year, but its benefits have been touted for centuries. From anti-inflammatory properties; to blood-sugar stabilization; to antifungal, antibacterial, and even antiviral properties; cinnamon boasts not only the superfood name, but is the perfect flavoring spice during the holidays. Combined with Purple Corn–which you can add as a boost to your favorite smoothie or bowl–cinnamon makes the Purple Rain a fabulous choice for the season.