The Tradition of Nixtamal and its Nutritional Benefits

Nixtamalization is a traditional process that has been used for thousands of years in Mexico to prepare corn for consumption. This process involves soaking dried corn kernels in an alkaline solution, such as lime water, before cooking and grinding them into a dough called masa. This ancient technique not only improves the taste and texture of corn, but also enhances its nutritional value by making its nutrients more bioavailable.

The benefits of nixtamalization go beyond taste and texture. The process releases niacin, an essential B vitamin, from the corn, making it more available for the body to absorb. This is particularly important for populations that rely on corn as a staple food, as niacin deficiency can lead to pellagra, a disease that affects the skin, digestive system, and nervous system.

In addition to niacin, nixtamalization also increases the availability of other important nutrients, such as calcium, iron, and zinc, which are essential for bone health, immune function, and overall wellbeing. The process also reduces the levels of harmful compounds, such as phytic acid, which can interfere with the absorption of minerals.

Despite its many benefits, the tradition of nixtamalization has been threatened in recent years by the use of industrial processes that prioritize convenience and cost over quality and nutrition. However, there is a growing movement to revive this ancient practice and promote its health benefits.

In conclusion, nixtamalization is a traditional and effective way of preparing corn that not only enhances its taste and texture, but also improves its nutritional value. Its revival is important for the preservation of cultural heritage and the promotion of healthy eating habits.


  • Bressani, R., & Elías, L. G. (1994). Nutritional improvements of corn masa and tortillas. Cereal Foods World, 39(6), 455-460.
  • Ortiz-Escobar, T. B., Bello-Pérez, L. A., & García-Suárez, F. J. (2017). Chemical, nutritional and sensory properties of tortillas elaborated with lime-cooked corn flours. LWT-Food Science and Technology, 82, 284-291.
  • Saucedo-Hernández, Y., & Gutiérrez-Dorado, R. (2019). Impact of nixtamalization on the content and bioaccessibility of minerals in maize-based foods: A review. Food Chemistry, 271, 726-734.

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