Background: Sweet and waxy corn (Zea mays L.) are high in phytochemicals which vary
depending on several factors including corn cultivars and the maturation stage.
Methods: Five commercial sweet and waxy corn cultivars were grown and their major phytochemical
compositions were investigated at the milk, late milk, and soft dough stages. Phytochemicals in
corn samples harvested from each kernel maturation stage were determined as total phenolic compounds,
anthocyanins, tocopherols, and carotenoids.
Results: Significant interactions between the corn cultivars and maturation stage were detected for
all phytochemical compositions, with changes in their concentration during seed development. Total
phenolic compounds and total anthocyanins were highest in the dark purple waxy variety (316.74 mg
GAE/100 g of DW and 522.21 mg CGE/100 g of DW, respectively) in which cyanidin was the major
anthocyanin. Carotenoid compositions were also affected by corn type and harvesting stage. The yellow
sweet cultivars indicated higher levels of carotenoids than other colors, with lutein as the major
carotenoid at concentrations from 0.05 to 8.46 µg/g of DW. Contents of γ-tocotrienol, γ-tocopherol,
and α-tocopherol were observed in all five corn cultivars with similar influences of the maturation
Conclusion: Results suggested that the phytochemical contents of all five corn types showed diverse
reliance regarding cultivars and maturity stages. The purple waxy and yellow sweet corn cultivars
contained a high level of phytochemicals. This would open up a useful opportunity for the functional
food industry as consumption of these corn cultivars would afford health benefits to consumers.