Maize tortillas fortified with nontoxic Jatropha curcas flour found to exhibit increased protein value

Mexican researchers reported that they have fortified maize flour with flour made from the seeds of the nontoxic Jatropha curcas (J. curcas) plant. Tortillas made from the enriched flour demonstrated higher levels of proteins and minerals, while also being indistinguishable from unfortified counterparts.

Their study was sponsored by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología (CONACYT), and their findings were published in the science journal CyTA – Journal of Food.

  • Mexicans eat around 127 kg of maize tortillas each year. Due to widespread poverty and rising population, an increasing number of Mexicans rely on tortillas for sustenance.
  • Maize is rich in calories but deficient in proteins. Earlier studies examined fortifying maize tortillas with protein-rich sources like amaranth, chia seeds, soybean, and white beans.
  • The seeds of nontoxic Jatropha curcas are used to make biofuels, but the residue can be turned into edible flour. Defatted J. curcas flour contains 55 percent protein, making it a possible alternative supplement for maize.
  • Researchers fortified maize dough with zero percent (control), five percent, 10 percent, 15 percent, and 20 percent nontoxic J. curcas flour. The dough was turned into tortillas, whose chemical profile and quality were quantified and analyzed via sight, scent, and taste.
  • The addition of J. curcas flour caused slight alterations to the physical appearance and characteristics of both dough and tortillas. However, the protein in the tortillas rose significantly with 10.5 percent increase in the 20 percent fortified flour. Furthermore, the fortified tortillas kept their color, remained soft, and were not rejected by taste testers.

Based on their findings, the researchers recommended a mixture with 20 percent nontoxic J. curcas flour to maximize the protein value of tortillas.

The full text of their study can be found here.

Journal Reference:

Argüello-García E, Martínez-Herrera J, Córdova-Téllez L, Sánchez-Sánchez O, Corona-Torres T. TEXTURAL, CHEMICAL AND SENSORIAL PROPERTIES OF MAIZE TORTILLAS FORTIFIED WITH NONTOXIC JATROPHA CURCAS L. FLOUR. CyTA – Journal of Food. 8 Dec 2016;15(2):301–306. DOI: 10.1080/19476337.2016.1255915.

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