While not a berry, purple corn is also deeply pigmented by anthocyanins and therefore offers similar anthocyanin-based health benefits. One particular health benefit is related to complications from diabetes. Diabetic nephropathy is one of the major diabetic complications and the leading cause of end-stage renal disease. In a study by Korean researchers, purple corn extract inhibited multiple pathways involved in the development of diabetic nephropathy. The researchers cultured cells in the lab in solutions of varying concentrations of anthocyanins, and then assessed for the level of monocyte-endothelial cell adhesion, a major factor in the hardening of the glomerulus in the kidney of diabetics. This was corroborated with data from experiments with lab mice fed a diet supplemented the purple corn extracts for eight weeks. Not only did the anthocyanins inhibit pathways that led to diabetic glomerulosclerosis, they also inhibited the induction of some inflammatory processes in the mice. The research suggests that supplementation with purple corn anthocyanins may be an important strategy in preventing renal vascular disease in type-2 diabetes.
La, V.D., Howell, A.B., Gernier, D. 2009. Cranberry proanthocyanidins inhibit MMP production and activity. J Dent Res. 88(7): 627-632.