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Importance of the Traditional Nixtamalization process

Importance of the Traditional Nixtamalization process
Alkaline cooking has had great importance in the development of the Mesoamerican cultures. The nixtamalization process produces a tortilla of greater nutritional value than that of raw corn. Nixtamalization implies a selective processing of corn proteins. During the alkaline cooking process, the solubility of zein, a nutritionally poor protein, is reduced, while the solubility of gluten, a protein of greater nutritional value, increases, making for greater availability of essential amino acids.

Some chemical tests indicate that some nutritional value is lost during the nixtamalization process. However, the overall nutritional balance for this process is clearly positive. Results have indicated increase in lysine content increases (2.8 times), tryptophan content and the relation of isoleucine to leucine (1.8 times). So nixtamalization clearly increases the balance of essential amino acids and frees niacin that otherwise would not be utilized. Nixtamalization also provides other benefits, such as the destruction of aflatoxins in corn that has been contaminated with Aspergillus flavus. The high level of available calcium in tortillas is important in preventing pellagra and osteoporosis, manifest as bone fragility due to the loss of mass in the skeletal system.