Bioactive Ingredients from Corn and Lactic Acid Bacterial Biotransformation
Corn (Zea mays L. ssp. mays) or maize is an important cereal food worldwide, and the highest genetic diversity of this crop is located in Latin America, especially in the Andean region. This chapter shows the importance of corn as a source not only of nutrients and energy but also of several bioactive ingredients such as phenolic compounds, carotenoids, tocopherols, phytosterols, bioactive peptides and dietary fiber among other minor constituents. Health-relevant functional properties of corn linked to the above compounds have generally shown to be comparable or higher than those observed in other common cereals and vary depending on several factors such as the variety, environmental and agronomic growth conditions and processing parameters. Fermented corn-based foods traditionally produced in Latin American and African countries may be targeted as potential functional foods, but more scientific research is needed to reveal their bioactive composition and potential healthy properties. The lactic acid bacterial biotransformation of phenolic compounds among other bioactives commonly found in corn and their effect on gut microbiome modulation are also highlighted in this chapter.