Pulque, An Alcoholic Drink from Rural Mexico, Contains Phytase. Its in vitro Effects on Corn Tortilla

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Pulque is made by fermenting the agave sap or aguamiel of Agave atrovirens with a whole array of microorganisms present in the environment including several lactic acid bacteria and yeasts such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Ascorbic acid was determined in pulque and aguamiel, respectively. Phytase activity in lees, liquid and freeze-dried pulque was assayed by measuring the appearance of phosphate from phytate by a colorimetric method likewise phosphate from phytate present in fresh corn tortilla was measured after in vitro incubation with pulque. Iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium and selenium contents were measured in pulque and corn tortilla as well as in nixtamalized corn flour (NCF), the latter is used to make instant tortilla, since corn provides most of the energy as well as most of the phytate in the Mexican rural diet. Pulque showed phytase activity but much less ascorbic acid and iron than previously reported; additionally, phytase in pulque hydrolyzed most of phytate's corn tortilla. Lees, which is mostly made of pulque's microbiota, significantly accumulated iron and zinc but no selenium. NCF was fortified with iron by the manufacturers but poorly blended. There were significant differences on selenium content between tortillas samples, apparently some soils in central Mexico are selenium deficient. Moderate pulque intake appears to increase the bioavailability of iron and zinc bound by phytate in corn.

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