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J Agric Food Chem. 1999 May;47(5):1948-55.

Quantification of carotenoid and tocopherol antioxidants in Zea mays.

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Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois, Urbana 61801, USA.


Recent investigations into carotenoid and tocopherol biological activity in mammalian systems indicate that these antioxidants are associated with the prevention of degenerative diseases. Both carotenoids and tocopherols can be found in corn kernel tissue. A replicated survey of 44 sweet and dent corn lines was conducted to determine qualitative and quantitative variability of lutein, zeaxanthin, beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene, as well as the alpha-, delta-, and gamma- forms of tocopherol. The primary carotenoids in fresh market sweet corn were found to be lutein and zeaxanthin, with the gamma form dominating among the tocopherols. Mean values among the genotypes were observed to range from 0 to 20.0 and 2.4 to 63.3 microg/g dry weight for lutein and gamma-tocopherol, respectively, indicating variability among genotypes in genes regulating the metabolism of these compounds. The observed genetic variability suggests profound differences in potential health promotion among genotypes and supports the feasibility of developing germplasm with enhanced levels of these antioxidant compounds at dosages that could promote health among the consuming public.

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