For long time ago that red beetroot (betalains) has been used as food colouring agent. The development of the organic synthesis led to the production of cheaper food synthetic colorants derived from aniline and other organic compounds that also presenting higher chemical stability and tinctorial strength than natural ones. However, consumers' growing interest in natural products shifted the research goal towards the natural colorants with the objective to improve their chemical stability in diverse food matrices and to find less timeā€consuming and more environmental friendly techniques of extraction. Beyond the colouring property of betalains, they exhibit beneficial properties for human health, although their transformations in the organism do not permit explain such biological properties, unless their metabolites also possess activity. This is other research field that starts increasing. Plant and microorganism biotechnology can be a tool for obtaining new natural betalains as well as for enlightening their biosynthetic pathways.

Key Concepts

  • New data on the betalain biosynthesis.
  • Betalain bioavailability in animals and humans.
  • Betalain beneficial properties and their molecular mechanisms.
  • Betalains as natural pigments.
  • Encapsulation of betalains.

Keywords: biochemistry; biosynthesis; biological properties; food application; stability

Figure 1. Schematic biosynthesis of betacyanins and betaxanthins in B. vulgaris.


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Further Reading

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Miguel, Maria G(Jan 2019) Betalains. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0028349]