Effect of processing on the phytochemical profiles and antioxidant activity of corn for production of masa, tortillas, and tortilla chips

J Agric Food Chem. 2007 May 16;55(10):4177-83. doi: 10.1021/jf063487p. Epub 2007 Apr 25.


The phytochemical profiles (total phenolics, anthocyanins, ferulic acid, carotenoids) and antioxidant activities of five types of corn (white, yellow, high carotenoid, blue, and red) processed into masa, tortillas, and tortilla chips were studied. The nixtamalization process significantly (p < 0.05) reduced total phenolics and antioxidant activities when compared to raw grains. Nixtamalized grains exhibited higher concentration of free phenolics and soluble conjugated ferulic acid and had lower concentrations of bound phenolics and ferulic acid than unprocessed grains. Among processed products, there was little difference in the phytochemical contents and antioxidant activities. Among types of corn, the highest concentrations of total phenolics, ferulic acid, and antioxidant activity were observed in the high-carotenoid genotype followed by the regular yellow counterpart. The white corn contained the lowest amount of total phenolics and antioxidant activity. The pigmented blue corn had the highest anthocyanin concentration followed by the red counterpart. These findings suggest that lime-cooking significantly reduced the phytochemical content of nixtamalized products but released phenolics and ferulic acid.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / analysis
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / analysis
  • Coumaric Acids / analysis
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Mexico
  • Phenols / analysis
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Zea mays / chemistry*
  • Zea mays / genetics


  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidants
  • Coumaric Acids
  • Phenols
  • Carotenoids
  • ferulic acid