EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW AND SOME TIPS ON HOW TO USE IT PROPERLY
Maize flour is obtained from ‘Zea maize’, a herbaceous plant belonging to the Gramineae family, originally from Central America, which spread across Italy in the 17th century and that is now cultivated practically all over the world. It is also known as ‘granoturco’. Maize flour is obtained by grinding the maize seeds: it can be more or less finely gound depending on its use. The characteristic intense yellow colour of the grains is given by a carotenoid, zeaxanthin (commonly used with lutein to preserve the health of the retina), which has an antioxidant effect.Maize contains vitamin A, which is involved in the modulation of skin health, vision, the immune system and gene transcription, and vitamin E, which is particularly important for the elderly, as a deficiency is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures. However, supplementation with additional vitamin E will not provide additional health benefits.The most significant components of maize kernels are starch and protein. The proteins (zein and zeatin) have a high content of essential amino acids and are essential for the formation of human body tissue. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc and selenium are also present.
Nonetheless, maize flour is low in B vitamins, and it is no coincidence that pellagra is a very common disease in those populations that consume excessive amounts of ‘polenta’ or maize flour in general. Pellagra is also known as the three D’s disease, referring to the trio of symptoms that characterise it: diarrhoea, dermatitis and dementia. In the absence of treatment, the prognosis is bleak, indeed, in English speakers refer to it as the 4-D disease (dementia, dermatitis, diarrhoea and death).
People with coeliac disease can eat food containing maize flour because the cereal does not form gluten in contact with water.
Finely ground, maize flour is widely used in the production of polenta, which is excellent as a source of carbohydrates, for example, at lunchtime, accompanied with vegetables and a source of protein.
Polenta, thanks to its high satiating power, is also suitable for those that are on a weight-loss diet: ‘polenta’ does not have many calories on its own, but if it is seasoned with plenty of butter/oil/cream, then, things change. Therefore, it is possible to eat polenta while dieting, but be careful with the seasonings!
Portions should be considered according to the individual daily calorie requirements.
Nutritional values per 100g of product: Maize flour
ENERGY VALUE 361 Kcal
PROTEIN 6.9 g
FAT 3,9 g
CARBOHYDRATE 76,8 g
OF WHICH SATURATES 0,5 g
SALT < 0,1 g
Author: Riccardo Negro © 2020