Profiles of carotenoids, anthocyanins, phenolics, and antioxidant activity of selected color waxy corn grains during maturation

J Agric Food Chem. 2011 Mar 9;59(5):2026-33. doi: 10.1021/jf104149q. Epub 2011 Feb 7.


Waxy corns are becoming increasingly consumed as fresh foods or as raw materials for whole grain foods facilitating human consumption in China, so they are usually harvested before complete maturity. Unfortunately, information on functional properties of immature waxy corns is very limited. Therefore, we investigated the profiles of carotenoids, anthocyanins, phenolics, and the antioxidant activity in three types of waxy corn with different colors (white, yellow, and black) during maturation, as well as a normal corn (yellow) used as control. The results showed that black waxy corn had the highest quantity of anthocyanins, phenolics and the best antioxidant activity, yellow corn contained a relatively large amount of carotenoids, while white corn had the lowest amounts of carotenoids, anthocyanins, phenolics, and antioxidant capacity. For each type of waxy corn, the higher carotenoids were found at the M2 stage (no major difference between the M1 and M2 stages for yellow corn). The levels of anthocyanin and phenolics decreased for white and yellow corns, contrary to those for black corn during maturation. The antioxidant activity determined by scavenging 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH), the ferric reducing antioxidant power (FRAP), and the Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity (TEAC) assays increased with ripening, but no difference was found between the M2 and maturity stages for yellow and black corns. For white corn, the DPPH radical scavenging activity first increased and then decreased, while the antioxidant activity determined by TEAC and FRAP assay decreased during maturation. Differences in these parameters indicate that types and harvesting time have significant influences on functional properties of waxy corns.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anthocyanins / analysis*
  • Antioxidants / analysis*
  • Carotenoids / analysis*
  • China
  • Phenols / analysis*
  • Seeds / chemistry
  • Seeds / growth & development*
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Zea mays / chemistry
  • Zea mays / growth & development*


  • Anthocyanins
  • Antioxidants
  • Phenols
  • Carotenoids