Nutritive Value of Maize: Improvements, Applications and Constraints



Maize is a globally important crop mainly utilized as feed, food and raw material for diverse industrial applications. Among cereals, it occupies the third place after wheat and rice and is a staple food for a large segment of population worldwide, particularly in the Asian as well as African countries. Its nutritional quality is, however, poor due to deficiency of two essential amino acids, viz. tryptophan and lysine. The discovery of opaque-2 gene has revolutionized the research in enhancing nutritional quality of maize, and subsequent research efforts gave birth to the present-day quality protein maize (QPM). This brings about a twofold increase in the levels of lysine and tryptophan as the zein or prolamine fraction is reduced by about 50 %. Starch is the major nutritional component of maize kernel constituting about 70 % of its weight. Starch composition in maize is genetically controlled, and significant variation has been observed in the amylose to amylopectin ratio which makes it suitable for different industrial purposes. Maize is also a source of oil which is highly regarded for human consumption as it reduces the blood cholesterol concentration. Many value-added products as well as fermented foods have been produced from maize which is consumed in different forms worldwide. Naturally, maize is a rich source of carotenoids such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein and cryptoxanthin which have highly diverse health benefits ranging from maintaining normal vision to lowering of oxidative stress. Efforts have been made towards the development of biofortified maize rich in iron, zinc and provitamin A concentration.


Sweet Corn Maize Kernel Maize Genotype Quality Protein Maize Normal Maize 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Adom KK, Liu RH (2002) Antioxidant activity of grains. J Agric Food Chem 50:6182–6187PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahn J, Koo SI (1995a) Effects of zinc, and essential fatty acid deficiencies on the lymphatic absorption of vitamin A and secretion of phospholipids. J Nutr Biochem 6:595–603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Ahn J, Koo SI (1995b) Intraduodenal phosphatidylcholine infusion restores the lymphatic absorption of vitamin A and oleic acid in zinc-deficient rats. J Nutr Biochem 6:604–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Allen MS, Coors JG, Roth GW (2003) Corn silage. In: Buxton DR, Muck R, Harrison J (eds) Silage science and technology. ASA, CSSA, and SSSA, Madison, pp 547–608Google Scholar
  5. Arnason JT, Lambert JDH, Gale J, Mihm J, Bjarnason M, Jewell D, Serratos JA, Fregeau-Reid J, Pietrzak L (1993) Is quality protein maize more susceptible than the normal lines to attack by maize weevil, Sitophilus zeamais? Postharvest Biol Technol 2:349–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Arnold JM, Bauman LF, Aycock HS (1977) Interrelations among protein, lysine, oil, certain mineral element concentrations, and physical kernel characteristics in two maize populations. Crop Sci 17:421–425CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Beadle G (1939) Teosinte and origin of maize. J Hered 30:245–247Google Scholar
  8. Bouis EH (2002) Plant breeding: a new tool for fighting micronutrient malnutrition. J Nutr 132:491S–494SPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Boyer CD, Shannon JC (1982) The use of endosperm genes for sweet corn improvement. In: Janick J (ed) Plant breeding reviews, vol 1. AVI Publishing, Westport, pp 139–154Google Scholar
  10. Butzen S, Haefele D (2008) Dry-grind ethanol production from corn. Crop Insights 18:01–05Google Scholar
  11. Crafts-Brandner SJ, Salvucci ME (2000) RuBisCO activase constrains the photosynthetic potential of leaves at high temperature and CO2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 97:13430–13435PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davidsson L, Ziegler EE, Kastenmayer P, van Dael P, Barclay D (2004) Dephytinisation of soyabean protein isolate with low native phytic acid content has limited impact on mineral and trace element absorption in healthy infants. Br J Nutr 91:287–293PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Dormann P (2003) Corn with enhanced anti-oxidant potential. Nat Biotechnol 21:1015–1016PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dowswell CR, Paliwel RL, Cantrell RP (1996) Maize in the third world. Wastview Press, Boulder, p 268Google Scholar
  15. Dreyfuss ML, Stoltzfus RJ, Shrestha JB, Pradhan EK, LeClerq SC, Khatry SK, Shrestha SR, Katz J, Albonico M, West KP Jr (2000) Hookworms, malaria and vitamin A deficiency contribute to anemia and iron deficiency among pregnant women in the plains of Nepal. J Nutr 130:2527–2536PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Dudley JW, Lambert RJ (1992) Ninety generations of selection for oil and protein in maize. Maydica 37:1–7Google Scholar
  17. Dupont J, White PJ, Carpenter MP, Schaefer EJ, Meydani SN, Elson CE, Woods M, Gorbach SL (1990) Food uses and health effects of corn oil. J Am Oil Nutr 9:438–470Google Scholar
  18. Egli I, Davidsson L, Zeder C, Walczyk T, Hurrel R (2004) Dephytinisation of a complementary food based on wheat and soy increases zinc, but not copper, apparent absorption in adults. J Nutr 134:1077–1080PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Englyst HN, Kingman SM, Cummings JH (1992) Classification and measurement of nutritionally important starch fractions. Eur J Clin Nutr 46:S33–S50PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Evensen KB, Boyer CD (1986) Carbohydrate composition and sensory quality of fresh and stored sweet corn. J Am Soc Hortic Sci 111:734–739, FAO statistical yearbook 2012. World Food and Agriculture.
  21. FAO Statistical Yearbook (2012) World food and agriculture.
  22. Feila S, Mosera B, Jampatongb S, Stampa P (2005) Mineral composition of the grains of tropical maize varieties as affected by preanthesis drought and rate of nitrogen fertilization. Crop Sci 45:516–523CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute (2009) US and world agricultural outlook. Iowa State University, AmesGoogle Scholar
  24. Food Balance Sheets FAOSTAT (2010) Available from:
  25. Fraser PD, Bramley PM (2004) The biosynthesis and nutritional uses of carotenoids. Prog Lipid Res 43:228–265PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Graham R, Senadhira D, Beebe S, Iglesias C, Monasterio I (1999) Breeding for micronutrient density in edible portions of staple food crops: conventional approaches. Field Crops Res 60:57–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Gupta BK, Bhardwaj BL, Ahuja AK (2004) Nutritional value of forage crops of Punjab. Punjab Agricultural University Publication, LudhianaGoogle Scholar
  28. Harjes CE, Rocheford TR, Bai L, Brutnell TP, Kandianis CB, Sowinski SG, Stapleton AE, Vallabhaneni R, Williams M, Wurtzel ET, Yan J, Buckler ES (2008) Natural genetic variation in lycopene epsilon cyclase tapped for maize biofortification. Science 319:330–333PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hauman BF (1985) Corn oil. J Am Oil Chem Soc 62:1524–1531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hess SY (2003) Interactions between iodine and iron deficiencies. Thesis/Dissertation, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Diss ETH No. 15002Google Scholar
  31. Hess SY, Thurnham DI, Hurrell RF (2005) Influence of provitamin A carotenoids on iron, zinc and vitamin A status. HapvestPlus Technical Monograph series 6. HarvestPlus, Washington, DC, pp 28Google Scholar
  32. Hodges RE, Sauberlich HE, Canham JE, Wallace DL, Rucker RB, Mejia LA, Mohanram M (1978) Hematopoietic studies in vitamin A deficiency. Am J Clin Nutr 31:876–885PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Hoebler C, Karinthi A, Chiron H, Champ M, Barry JL (1999) Bioavailability of starch in bread rich in amylose: metabolic responses in healthy subjects and starch structure. Eur J Clin Nutr 53:360–366PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hossain F, Prasanna BM, Sharma RK, Kumar P, Singh BB (2007) Evaluation of quality protein maize genotypes for resistance to stored grain weevil Sitophilus oryzae (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). Inter J Trop Insect Sci 27:114–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hotz C, Brown K (2004) Assessment of the risk of zinc deficiency in populations and options for its control. Food Nutr Bull 25(1):194–195Google Scholar
  36. Hukkeri SB, Shukla NP, Rajput RK (1977) Effect of levels of soil moisture and nitrogen on the fodder yield of oat on two types of soils. Indian J Agron 47:204–209Google Scholar
  37. Hunt R, Hand D, Hannah M, Neal A (1991) Response to CO2 enrichment in 27 herbaceous species. Funct Ecol 5:410–421CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. IPCC (2007) Climate change: the physical science basis. Inter governmental panel on climate change. Summary report of the working group, ParisGoogle Scholar
  39. Iqbal A, Ayub M, Zaman H, Ahmed R (2006) Impact of nutrient management and legume association on agro-qualitative traits of maize forage. Pak J Bot 38:1079–1084Google Scholar
  40. Jackson DS (1992) G92-1115 corn quality for industrial uses. Historical materials from University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. Paper 748.
  41. Jackson MJ (1997) The assessment of bioavailability of micronutrients: introduction. Eur J Clin Nutr 51:S1–S2PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Kanai R, Edwards G (1999) Biochemistry of C4 photosynthesis. In: Sage RF, Monson RK (eds) The biology of C4 photosynthesis. Academic, New York, pp 49–87Google Scholar
  43. Katragadda HR, Fullana AS, Sidhu S, Carbonell-Barrachina ÁA (2010) Emissions of volatile aldehydes from heated cooking oils. Food Chem 120:59–65CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Kawatra A, Sehgal S (2007) Value-added products of maize. Report of the national conference on doubling maize production, IFFCO Foundation, New Delhi, pp 76–85Google Scholar
  45. Kim ES, Noh SK, Koo SI (1998) Marginal zinc deficiency lowers the lymphatic absorption of alpha-tocopherol in rats. J Nutr 128:265–270PubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. Kulp K (2000) Handbook of cereal science and technology, 2nd edn. Revised and Expanded, CRC Press, Boca Raton, p 808Google Scholar
  47. Kumar H (1997) Resistance in maize to Chilo partellus (Swinhoe) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae): An overview. Crop Prot 16:243–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Kurilich AC, Juvik JA (1999) Quantification of carotenoid and tocopherol antioxidants in Zea mays. J Agric Food Chem 47:1948–1955PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Lambert RJ (2001) High-oil corn hybrids. In: Hallauer AR (ed) Specialty corns, 2nd edn. CRC Press, Boca Raton, pp 131–154Google Scholar
  50. Lawton JW, Wilson CM (1987) Proteins of the kernel. In: Johnson LA, White PJ (eds) Corn chemistry and technology. American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. Paul, pp 313–354Google Scholar
  51. Lonnerdal B (2002) Phytic acid–trace element (Zn, Cu, Mn) interactions. Int J Food Sci Tech 37:749–758CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. MacDowel LR (2003) Minerals in animal and human nutrition, 2nd edn. Elsevier, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  53. Maida JM, Mathers K, Alley CL (2008) Pediatric ophthalmology in the developing world. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 19:403–408PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Mendoza C, Viteri F, Lonnerdal B, Young KA, Raboy V, Brown KH (1998) Effect of genetically modified, low-phytic acid maize on absorption of iron from tortillas. Am J Clin Nutr 68:1123–1127PubMedGoogle Scholar
  55. Menkir A (2008) Genetic variation for grain mineral content in tropical-adapted maize inbred lines. Food Chem 110:454–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Mertz ET, Bates LS, Nelson OE (1964) Mutant gene that changes protein composition and increases lysine content of maize endosperm. Science 145:279–280PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Moreno YS, Hernandez DR, Velazquez AD (2005) Extraction and use of pigments from maize grains (Zea mays L.) as colorants in yogurt. Arch Latinoam Nutr 55:293–298Google Scholar
  58. Morison J (1998) Stomatal response to increased CO2 concentration. J Exp Bot 49:443–452Google Scholar
  59. Motto M, Hartings H, Laura M, Rossi V (2005) Gene discovery to improve quality related traits in maize. In: Tuberosa R, Phillips RL, Gale M (eds) Proceedings of the international congress “In the wake of double helix: from the green revolution to the gene revolution”, Avena media, Bologna, pp 173–192, 27–31 May 2005Google Scholar
  60. Nelson O, Pan D (1995) Starch synthesis in maize endosperms. Annu Rev Plant Physiol Plant Mol Biol 46:475–496CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. O’Dell BL, Sunde RA (1997) Handbook of nutritionally essential mineral elements. Marcel Dekker, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  62. Oelofse A, Van Raaij JM, Benade AJ, Dhansay MA, Tolboom JJ, Hautvast JG (2002) Disadvantaged black and coloured infants in two urban communities in the Western Cape, South Africa differ in micronutrient status. Public Health Nutr 5:289–294PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Oerke EC (2005) Crop losses to pests. J Agric Sci 144:31–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Osborne TB, Mendel LB (1914) Nutritive properties of proteins of the maize kernel. J Biol Chem 18:1–16Google Scholar
  65. Palafox NA, Gamble MV, Dancheck B, Ricks MO, Briand K, Semba RD (2003) Vitamin A deficiency, iron deficiency, and anemia among preschool children in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Nutrition 19:405–408PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Pathak P, Singh P, Kapil U, Raghuvanshi RS (2003) Prevalence of iron, vitamin A, and iodine deficiencies amongst adolescent pregnant mothers. Indian J Pediatr 70:299–301PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Prasanna BM, Vasal SK, Kassahun B, Singh NN (2001) Quality protein maize. Curr Sci 81:1308–1319Google Scholar
  68. Protein Quality Evaluation (1991) Report of the joint FAO/WHO expert consultation. Food & Agriculture Organization, Bethesda, 4–8 Dec 1989Google Scholar
  69. Raphael M, Yona B, Stephe K, Ephraim N, Patrick R, Settumba M, Bruce H, Samuel K (2011) Functional properties of starches on the East African market. Afr J Food Sci 5(10):594–602Google Scholar
  70. Reddy KVS, Zehr UB (2004) Novel strategies for overcoming pests and diseases in India. In: Fisher T et al. (eds) New directions for a diverse planet: Proceedings, fourth international crop science congress, Brisbane, pp 1–8, 25 Sept–2 Oct 2004Google Scholar
  71. Rice AL, West KP, Black RE (2004) Vitamin A deficiency. In: Ezzati M, Lopez AD, Rodgers A, Murray CJL (eds) Comparative quantification of health risks: global and regional burden of disease attributable to selected major risk factors, vol 1. World Health Organization, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  72. Riley C, Wheatley A, Asemota H (2006) Isolation and Characterization of starch from eight Dioscorea alata cultivars grown in Jamaica. Afr J Biotechnol 15(17):1528–1536Google Scholar
  73. Rogers HH, Dahlman RC (1993) Crop responses to CO2 enrichment. Vegetation 104(105):117–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Sandstead HH, Munoz JM, Jacob RA, Kelvay LM, Reck SJ, Logan GM Jr, Dintzis FR, Inglett GE, Shvey WC (1978) Influence of dietary fiber on trace element balance. Am J Clin Nutr 31:5180–5184Google Scholar
  75. Sattar MA, Haque MF, Rahman MM (1994) Intercropping maize with broadcast rice at different row spacing. Bang J Agric Res 19:159–164Google Scholar
  76. Sen A, Bergvinson D, Miller S, Atkinson J, Gary FR, Thor AJ (1994) Distribution and microchemical detection of phenolic acids, flavonoids, and phenolic acid amides in maize kernels. J Agric Food Chem 42:1879–1883CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. Shankar AH, Genton B, Semba RD et al (1999) Effect of vitamin A supplementation on morbidity due to Plasmodium falciparum in young children in Papua New Guinea: a randomised trial. Lancet 354:203–209PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. Singh N, Singh J, Kaur L, Sodhi NS, Gill BS (2003) Morphological, thermal and rheological properties of starches from different botanical sources. Food Chem 81:219–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Sommer A, West KP Jr (1996) Vitamin A deficiency. Health, survival and vision. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  80. Topping DI, Clifton PM (2001) Short-chain fatty acids and human colonic function: roles of resistant starch and nonstarch polysaccharides. Physiol Rev 81:1031–1064PubMedGoogle Scholar
  81. Ullah I, Ali M, Farooqi A (2010) Chemical and nutritional properties of some maize (Zea mays L.) varieties grown in NWFP, Pakistan. Pak J Nutr 9(11):1113–1117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. van den Broek NR, Letsky EA (2000) Etiology of anemia in pregnancy in south Malawi. Am J Clin Nutr 72:247S–256SPubMedGoogle Scholar
  83. Van Soest PJ, Fadel J, Sniffen CJ (1979) Discount factors for energy and protein in ruminant feeds. In: Proceedings, Cornell nutrition conference for feed manufacturers, Ithaca, Cornell University, pp 63–75Google Scholar
  84. Vandeputte GE, Vermeylen R, Geeroms J, Delcour JA (2003) Rice starches. III. Structural aspects provide insight in amylopectin retrogradation properties and gel texture. J Cereal Sci 38:61–68CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  85. Vasal SK (2000) The quality protein maize story. Food Nutr Bull 21:445–450Google Scholar
  86. Watson SA (1987) Structure and composition. In: Watson SA, Ramstad PE (eds) Corn: chemistry and technology. American Association of Cereal Chemists, St Paul, pp 53–82Google Scholar
  87. WHO (2009) Global prevalence of vitamin A deficiency in populations at risk1995–2005. In: WHO global database on vitamin A deficiency. World Health Organization, Geneva, pp 1–55Google Scholar
  88. Wilson CM, Shewry PR, Miflin BJ (1981) Maize endosperm proteins compared by sodium dodecyl gel electrophoresis and isoelectric focussing. Cereal Chem 58:275–281Google Scholar
  89. Yuan Y, Zhang L, Dai Y, Yu J (2007) Physicochemical properties of starch obtained from Dioscorea nipponica Makino comparison with other tuber starches. J Food Eng 82:436–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Yang G, Dong Y, Li Y, Wang Q, Shi Q, Zhou Q (2013) Verification of QTL for grain starch content and its genetic correlation with oil content using two connected RIL populations in high oil maize. PlosOne 8(1):e53770. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053770. Epub 8 Jan 2013

Copyright information

© Springer India 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Directorate of Maize ResearchNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Germplasm Evaluation DivisionNational Bureau of Plant Genetic ResourcesNew DelhiIndia

Personalised recommendations