Betalains are a class of yellow and red indole-derived pigments available in plants of Caryophyllales where they reinstate anthocyanin pigments. It occurs in some higher order fungi. Most often they are apparent in petals of flowers but may color the fruits, stems, leaves and roots of plants which contain them. It comprises of pigments such as those found in beets. The word betalain is derived from Latin name of common beet scientifically known as Beta vulgaris, from which betalains were first extracted. The deep red color of beets, amaranth, bougainvillea and cacti results due to the presence of betalain pigments. The specific shades of red to purple are distinctive and dissimilar of anthocyanin pigments found in most plants.
Betalains are water soluble nitrogen containing pigments which consists of two structural groups such as yellow orange betaxanthins and red violet betacyanins. There are two categories of betalains such as betacyanins and betaxanthins. Betacyanins include reddish to violet betalain pigments. Betanin, probetanin, isobetanin and neobetanin are the betacyanins found in plants. Betaxanthins are betalain pigments which develops yellow to orange. Miraxanthin, vulgaxanthin, indicaxanthin and portulaxanthin are betaxanthins found in plants. Betalains are stable between pH 3.5 and 7.0 which covers nearly all foods with maximum color stability at pH 5.5. Betalains could exhibit antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which could protect human cells from oxidative stress. Betalains could lower inflammation caused by infection. Animal studies show that these substances lower amount of inflammation in blood vessels that prevent formation of clots. It lowers levels of harmful cholesterol in blood resulting formation of plaque and blocked arteries. It supports body in neutralizing toxins and support detoxification process.
Health benefits of Betalains
Some known benefits of Betalains are:
- Premature aging
Betalains are beneficial nutrients and antioxidant that is beneficial for lowering inflammation, detoxifying body and prevents the chances of premature aging.
- Antioxidant activity
The term betalain is derived from Latin name for common beet from which betalains are firstly extracted. Fruit of cacti and beets gets its dark red color from betalains. Recent study has shown that betalains are considered to be natural antioxidants. It also exhibit anti-cancer activity.