You may have come across the term “nixtamal”, but have you ever been curious as to its origins or how it relates tortillas? The word has a deep history going back to the Aztecs and it was meant to detail the procedure which uses partly cooked and lime-soaked corn. The Aztecs would explore riverbeds in search of limestone rock which was used as a corn grinder of sorts. This process would eventually come to be known as nixtamalization.
Nixtamal can be ground into masa to make foods like tortillas, tamales, or finely ground patted discs. The Spanish word ‘masa’ is the name given to describe the corn dough. Nixtamal also provides flexibility since it can be kept in its full form to make pozole, perhaps better known as hominy.
The many benefits reaped by nixtamal were discovered by the Aztecs using a tried and true approach: experimenting with it. They quickly noticed it served as an energy source and may have enhanced their spiritual alertness without negatively affecting the digestive system. As science has evolved exponentially since the days of the Aztecs, the amino acid niacin found in nixtamal may be beneficial in the reduction of bad cholesterol, getting rid of toxins, and cell repair.
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