Nutritional and phenotypical characterization of two South African maize (Zea mays L) varieties sampled in the Qwa-Qwa region


Zea mays L represents one of the main source of energy in the diet in many African countries, especially in the sub-Saharan regions. White maize varieties, characterized by the lack of carotenoids, are usually widely preferred in Africa for human consumption, and this contributes to the occurrence of Vitamin A deficiency; yellow varieties, often derived from commercial hybrids, are usually destined for animal feeding. In this study we characterized from the phenotypical and nutritional points of view one white and one yellow South African landrace maize cultivar obtained directly from the farmers in the rural region of Qwa-Qwa (Free State Province). Calorific value, oil, protein, starch, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids content were determined, together with free and phytic phosphorus (P). Both of the varieties showed lower protein and Fe content in comparison to the ones used as control, and the yellow one also had a low content of Zn. The white variety was characterized by a higher free P content but also by a very low level of carotenoids. Our data show that there are no nutritional reasons to prefer the white variety for human consumption, with the exception of the large size of the seeds, which make them particularly adapted for milling; hence the nutritional value of these varieties, and in particular of the white one, should be improved (protein, Fe and carotenoids), contributing in this way to tackle the problem of malnutrition in South African rural areas.


South Africa, Zea mays, landraces, flavonoids, nutritional value

Full Text:


Maydica - A journal devoted to maize and allied species

ISSN: 2279-8013