Provitamin A-biofortified maize may contribute to alleviating vitamin A deficiency (VAD), in developing countries. However, processing the maize into food products may reduce its provitamin A content. The aims of this study were to determine the composition of provitamin A carotenoids in biofortified maize varieties as well as to assess their retention during processing of popular maize foods consumed in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The non-provitamin A carotenoid, zeaxanthin and the provitamin A carotenoids, β-cryptoxanthin, and trans and cis isomers of β-carotene, and other unidentified trans and cis isomers of β-carotene were detected in varying concentrations in the maize. Milling provitamin A-biofortified maize into mealie meal resulted in a higher retention of carotenoids compared to milling into samp. The highest retention of provitamin A carotenoids was observed in cooked phutu and cooked samp, whilst cooking into thin porridge resulted in the lowest retention of provitamin A carotenoids. In phutu, 96.6 ± 20.3% β-cryptoxanthin and 95.5 ± 13.6% of the β-carotene were retained after cooking. In samp, 91.9 ± 12.0% β-cryptoxanthin and 100.1 ± 8.8% β-carotene; and in thin porridge, 65.8 ± 4.6% β-cryptoxanthin and 74.7 ± 3.0% β-carotene were retained after cooking. This study demonstrates that provitamin A retention in maize is affected by the cooking method (and hence cooked food form) and therefore cooking methods that result in a good retention of provitamin A need to be identified and recommended.
Pillay, K.; Siwela, M.; Derera, J.; Veldman, F.J. Provitamin A carotenoids in biofortified maize and their retention during processing and preparation of South African maize foods. Journal of Food Science and Technology (2014) 51 (4) 634-644. [DOI: 10.1007/s13197-011-0559-x]