Tejuino is a traditional Mexican fermented corn beer that has been consumed for centuries. It is made from nixtamalized corn that has been fermented with pulp from the maguey plant. Tejuino is a nutritional beverage that contains several vitamins and minerals.
Tejuino originated in the western states of Jalisco, Nayarit, and Colima in Mexico. It is a pre-Hispanic drink that was originally consumed by native peoples during festivals and celebrations. The name “tejuino” comes from the Nahuatl word “texi” which means fermented or spoiled. Tejuino is made by fermenting masa (corn dough) with sugar and pulp from the maguey plant. The maguey pulp provides a sour taste and aids the fermentation process. Other fruits like tamarind or lime juice may also be added for more flavor.
This light effervescent beverage has a unique sweet and sour taste. It is smooth and frothy when shaken or stirred before drinking. Modern versions of tejuino are often carbonated to enhance the fizziness. The maguey gives it a distinct earthy taste, while the fermented corn provides a mildly sweet flavor.
In addition to being refreshing and tasty, tejuino has nutritional value. The nixtamalization process (soaking and cooking corn in an alkaline solution) increases the availability of certain nutrients in corn. Tejuino also contains vitamins from the fermented corn and maguey pulp. Let’s take a closer look at the vitamin content of this traditional beverage.
Tejuino contains small but valuable amounts of vitamin A primarily from the corn. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays many important roles in the body.
As an antioxidant, vitamin A helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. It supports immune function and helps maintain healthy vision. Vitamin A is also needed for gene expression and cell differentiation.
This vitamin promotes good health in various tissues including the skin, lungs, and urinary tract. The retina of the eye requires vitamin A to function properly, especially in low light conditions.
The vitamin A in tejuino exists mainly as beta-carotene, which is converted to active vitamin A (retinol) in the body. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids give corn its yellow-orange pigment.
Vitamin A Benefits
- Healthy vision
- Gene expression
- Immune function
- Antioxidant properties
- Embryonic development
- Skin and mucous membrane health
The amount of vitamin A supplied by tejuino is low compared to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) which is 900 mcg for adult males and 700 mcg for adult females. But it provides a nice compliment to other dietary sources of this important vitamin.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1)
Tejuino also contains thiamin or vitamin B1. Thiamin plays a fundamental role in energy production from food. As a water-soluble vitamin, thiamin needs to be continually replenished in the body.
Thiamin acts as a coenzyme for the conversion of carbohydrates into useable energy. It is essential for the metabolism of glucose. This vitamin also supports nerve cell function and heart health.
Good food sources of thiamin include whole grains, meat, fish, nuts, and seeds. The nixtamalization process increases the availability of thiamin in corn by removing the outer hull. Fermenting the corn into tejuino may also increase thiamin content.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1) Benefits
- Carbohydrate metabolism
- Energy production
- Nerve cell function
- Muscle contraction
- Cognitive health
- Healthy heart
Tejuino provides a nice dose of thiamin to help meet the RDA which is 1.2 mg for adult males and 1.1 mg for adult females. Consuming traditional tejuino may have helped prevent thiamin deficiency in native populations that relied heavily on corn.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is another B vitamin present in tejuino. Like thiamin, riboflavin plays an essential role in energy production. It acts as a key component of two coenzyme flavoproteins involved in cellular metabolism.
Riboflavin also functions as an antioxidant, helping to eliminate free radicals that can damage cells. It is needed to activate vitamin B6 and folate. This water-soluble vitamin aids the body’s use of oxygen and assists in thyroid hormone production.
Good dietary sources of riboflavin include dairy, eggs, meat, fish, leafy greens, mushrooms, and almonds. Fermented tejuino likely contains higher levels of riboflavin compared to unfermented corn.
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) Benefits
- Cellular energy production
- Antioxidant activity
- Thyroid support
- Healthy skin and eyes
- Growth and development
- Nutrient metabolism
While tejuino is not a rich source of riboflavin, it provides a nutritious addition to the diet. The RDA for riboflavin is 1.3 mg for males and 1.1 mg for females.
Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Niacin or vitamin B3 is another B vitamin present in tejuino. It performs many essential functions in the body as a component of the coenzymes NAD and NADP.
Niacin plays a major role in converting food into energy. It aids in the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The vitamin also supports digestive system function.
In addition, niacin helps keep skin, hair, eyes, and nerves healthy. It assists with cell signaling and the production of hormones.
Good sources of niacin include poultry, fish, peanuts, mushrooms, and whole grains. Traditional preparation methods help increase niacin availability in corn used for tejuino.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) Benefits
- Energy production
- Nutrient metabolism
- Cell signaling
- Healthy skin and nerves
- Cholesterol regulation
- Brain function
While not high in niacin, tejuino can help provide a valuable portion of the RDA which is 16 mg for adult males and 14 mg for adult females.
Tejuino also provides small amounts vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. Vitamin B6 plays diverse roles in the body and is vital to overall health.
It assists with protein metabolism, red blood cell production, and immune function. Vitamin B6 is also needed for proper brain development and neurotransmitter synthesis.
In addition, it helps regulate blood glucose levels, aids in hemoglobin formation, and is involved in gene expression and hormone modulation. Good food sources include poultry, fish, potatoes, bananas, and leafy greens.
Vitamin B6 Benefits
- Protein metabolism
- Red blood cell production
- Immune function
- Brain health
- Hormone modulation
- Blood glucose regulation
The small amount of vitamin B6 provided by tejuino contributes to meeting the RDA of 1.3 mg for adult females and 1.7 mg for adult males.
Folate (Vitamin B9)
Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is a water-soluble B vitamin found in tejuino. Folate plays a vital role in many bodily processes.
It is critically important for red blood cell production and proper cell division. Folate helps produce DNA and RNA, the building blocks of life.
This vitamin also prevents changes to DNA that may lead to cancer. It is especially vital during infancy, adolescence, and pregnancy.
In addition, folate plays a role in protein metabolism, immune function, and brain health. Good dietary sources include leafy greens, asparagus, broccoli, citrus fruits, and beans.
Folate (Vitamin B9) Benefits
- Red blood cell production
- Cell division and growth
- DNA and RNA synthesis
- Cancer prevention
- Brain and nerve health
- Heart health
While not extremely high in folate, tejuino provides a useful amount to help meet the RDA of 400 mcg for adults.
In addition to the B vitamins, tejuino contains vitamin C primarily contributed by the maguey plant. Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin with many beneficial effects.
Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. It also supports immune health, boosting the activity of white blood cells.
This vitamin is needed for the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body. It aids in collagen production, strengthening blood vessels, bones, and muscles.
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and supports brain health. Good dietary sources include citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes, and leafy greens.
Vitamin C Benefits
- Antioxidant protection
- Immune function
- Tissue growth and repair
- Collagen production
- Iron absorption
- Brain health
The vitamin C content gives tejuino an added nutritional boost. The RDA for vitamin C is 90 mg for adult males and 75 mg for adult females.
In addition to the vitamins described, tejuino likely contains small amounts of other vitamins. However, there is limited data available on its exact vitamin profile.
Tejuino may provide trace amounts of vitamin E, an antioxidant that protects cell membranes. It could also contain small quantities of vitamin K, needed for proper blood clotting.
Traditional tejuino may have variable amounts of B vitamins like pantothenic acid, biotin, and vitamin B12 based on the ingredients and fermentation process. Further analysis is needed to determine the full vitamin content of tejuino.
Along with vitamins, tejuino contains an array of minerals. The nixtamalization process increases the availability of certain minerals in corn by removing phytic acid.
Tejuino provides minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, and selenium. These minerals play vital roles in bone health, metabolism, hydration, growth, and neurologic function.
The combination of vitamins and minerals gives tejuino nutritional value beyond its refreshing flavor. It serves as a good example of how traditional food processing methods can enhance nutrient bioavailability.
Potential Health Benefits
Several potential health benefits have been associated with tejuino due to its unique nutritional profile:
- Antioxidant effects – from vitamins A, C, and riboflavin
- Energy production – from B vitamins like thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin
- Heart health – from thiamin, niacin, and folate
- Cancer prevention – from antioxidant vitamins and folate
- Immune function – from vitamin C and other nutrients
- Metabolic activity – from an array of B vitamins
More research is needed to investigate these potential health benefits. However, tejuino’s nutritional profile suggests it may have advantages beyond simply quenching thirst.
Downsides of Tejuino
Despite its nutritional value, tejuino also has some downsides:
- It often contains high amounts of added sugars.
- Overconsumption may contribute to weight gain or metabolic issues.
- Raw tejuino carries a risk of contamination if improperly prepared.
- Drinking too much may cause bloating, gas, or diarrhea.
- The carbonation and acidity could worsen certain digestive conditions.
- Store-bought versions likely have less nutritional value.
Enjoying tejuino in moderation and choosing traditionally-made versions are best for harnessing its nutritional benefits.
Maximizing the Nutrition in Tejuino
Here are some tips for getting the most nutrition from tejuino:
- Consume small portions to limit calorie intake.
- Drink freshly made tejuino for higher vitamin content.
- Choose tejuino made from whole grain corn when possible.
- Pair tejuino with other healthy foods to balance your diet.
- Avoid adding extra sugar when making homemade tejuino.
- Don’t rely on tejuino to provide all your daily vitamin needs.
The Bottom Line
Tejuino is more than just a refreshing traditional beverage. It provides a variety of vitamins like A, C, B1, B2, B3, B6, and folate. These vitamins contribute to energy, immune function, metabolism, and growth.
Tejuino also contains beneficial minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium. However, amounts vary based on preparation methods and ingredients used.
While tejuino should not replace whole foods, it can be a nutritious addition to the diet when consumed in moderation. Drinking traditional tejuino may provide protective health effects from its unique nutritional profile.