A new Australian variety of ‘superyellow’ sweetcorn could hold the key to fighting age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in the western world.

The recently developed ‘Supergold’ variety of sweetcorn is high in zeaxanthin – a naturally-occurring pigment that gives corn its distinctive colour. Studies have demonstrated a link between high intake of foods containing zeaxanthin with a lower occurrence of age-related macular degeneration.

AUSVEG spokesperson Jeremy Story Carter said the ‘Supergold’ sweetcorn was a breakthrough achievement for the Australian vegetable industry.

“This new research is an exciting development for our local industry. Zeaxanthin is extremely important for eye health, but ordinarily you would need to eat an unfeasibly high amount of sweetcorn to achieve the levels required to battle macular degeneration. This new ‘Supergold’ variety will contain enough of the pigment (20 micrograms per gram) in half a cob to help improve eye-health,” said Mr Story Carter.

The world-leading project was first undertaken in 2008 by plant pathologist Dr Tim O’Hare and his team at the University of Queensland’s Alliance for Agricultural and Food Innovation. One of the central challenges the team faced while cross-breeding varieties with high levels of zeaxanthin was achieving a consistent, uniform colour.

“Research showed that even if the corn contained great health benefits, consumers were unwilling to purchase a product that looked unusual and was uneven in colour. Achieving a consistent, deep-yellow colour in the corn was one of the key challenges this project was able to overcome,” said Mr Story Carter.

The ‘Superyellow’ variety, which will be put out for commercial tender in 2013, is not designed to replace existing lines of sweetcorn in the market.

“This will ultimately be a product that suits health-conscious consumers willing to pay a little more. Such an innovative project only serves to underscore Australia’s position as one of the leaders in world agricultural research,” said Mr Story Carter.

Findings from the research have been published in leading industry journal Vegetables Australia, which is released today.

Produced by AUSVEG – the National Peak Industry Body representing Australia’s 7,000 vegetable growers – the 52-page magazine communicates vital Research and Development (R&D) findings and projects which have been funded by the National Vegetable Levy with matched funds from the Australian Government.

To receive a free media copy of Vegetables Australia magazine, please email your mailing details to jeremy.storycarter@ausveg.com.au.

This communication has been funded by HAL using the National Vegetable Levy and matched funds
from the Australian Government.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeremy Story Carter, Writer/ Journalist, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9822 0388, Mobile: 0431 723 533, Email: jeremy.storycarter@ausveg.com.au