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Nutrients 2019, 11(4), 833; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11040833

The Germ Fraction Inhibits Iron Bioavailability of Maize: Identification of an Approach to Enhance Maize Nutritional Quality via Processing and Breeding

1
United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Robert Holley Center for Agriculture and Health, 538 Tower Road, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
2
Plant Breeding and Genetics Section, School of Integrative Plant Science, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 March 2019 / Revised: 22 March 2019 / Accepted: 10 April 2019 / Published: 12 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dietary Trace Minerals)
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PDF [2355 KB, uploaded 12 April 2019]
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Abstract

Improving the nutritional quality of Fe in maize (Zea mays) represents a biofortification strategy to alleviate iron deficiency anemia. Therefore, the present study measured iron content and bioavailability via an established bioassay to characterize Fe quality in parts of the maize kernel. Comparisons of six different varieties of maize demonstrated that the germ fraction is a strong inhibitory component of Fe bioavailability. The germ fraction can contain 27–54% of the total kernel Fe, which is poorly available. In the absence of the germ, Fe in the non-germ components can be highly bioavailable. More specifically, increasing Fe concentration in the non-germ fraction resulted in more bioavailable Fe. Comparison of wet-milled fractions of a commercial maize variety and degerminated corn meal products also demonstrated the inhibitory effect of the germ fraction on Fe bioavailability. When compared to beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) containing approximately five times the concentration of Fe, degerminated maize provided more absorbable Fe, indicating substantially higher fractional bioavailability. Overall, the results indicate that degerminated maize may be a better source of Fe than whole maize and some other crops. Increased non-germ Fe density with a weaker inhibitory effect of the germ fraction are desirable qualities to identify and breed for in maize. View Full-Text
Keywords: maize; iron; bioavailability; germ; Caco-2; in vitro digestion; bioassay; biofortification maize; iron; bioavailability; germ; Caco-2; in vitro digestion; bioassay; biofortification
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Glahn, R.; Tako, E.; Gore, M.A. The Germ Fraction Inhibits Iron Bioavailability of Maize: Identification of an Approach to Enhance Maize Nutritional Quality via Processing and Breeding. Nutrients 2019, 11, 833.

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