Influence of cooking conditions on carotenoid content and stability in porridges prepared from high-carotenoid maize
Díaz Gómez, Joana
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Maize is a staple food crop in many developing countries, hence becoming an attractive target for biofortification programs toward populations at risk of micronutrient deficiencies. A South African white endosperm maize inbred line was engineered with a carotenogenic mini-pathway to generate high-carotenoid maize, which accumulates β-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. As maize porridge is a traditional meal for poor populations in sub-Saharan African countries, high-carotenoid maize was used as raw material to prepare different maize meals. The objective of this work was to assess the impact of popular home-cooking techniques and different cooking parameters (temperature, time and pH) on the final carotenoid content in the cooked product, using a spectrophotometric technique based on the mean absorption of carotenoids at 450 nm. Carotenoid levels were not only preserved, but also enhanced in high-carotenoid maize porridges. The carotenoid content was increased when temperatures ≤95 °C were combined with short cooking times (10-60 min). The most optimum thermal treatment was 75 °C/10 min. When treated under those conditions at pH 5, high-carotenoid maize porridges doubled the initial carotenoid content up to 88 μg/g dry weight. Regarding to cooking techniques, the highest carotenoid content was found when unfermented thin porridges were prepared (51 μg/g dry weight of high-carotenoid maize porridge). We conclude that high-carotenoid maize may contribute to enhance the dietary status of rural populations who depend on maize as a staple food.