Nutritional value of huitlacoche, maize mushroom caused by Ustilago maydis
Abstract Smutty maize cobs, caused by Ustilago maydis ((DC) Corda.), a fungus belonging to Basidiomycetes, can be seen wherever maize is grown. It is considered as a fungal disease limiting maize yield worldwide. However, in Mesoamerica, it is called as “huitlacoche” and evaluated as an edible mushroom. The present study was conducted to examine nutritional characteristics of this mushroom. In the study, smutty cobs naturally infected by U. maydis were randomly gleaned from plants in maize producing areas in the Mediterranean region of Turkey, in 2015. Huitlacoche was analyzed in terms of proximate composition, fatty acids, mineral elements, total phenolic and flavonoid matters and antioxidant activity. Average protein content was 12%, while fatty acids ranged from 0.44 to 42.49% (dry basis). Of the 11 fatty acids, oleic and linoleic acids had the highest percentages. Phosphorus (342.07 mg/kg) and magnesium (262.69 mg/kg) were found in high quantities. As for total phenolic and flavonoid matters were 113.11 mg GAE/kg and 28.51 mg CE/kg, respectively. The study suggests that huitlacoche has numerous good nutritional features for human diet, thus, it can be evaluated as a valuable food source in international cuisines.