Biological Properties and Applications of Betalains

Molecules. 2021 Apr 26;26(9):2520. doi: 10.3390/molecules26092520.


Betalains are water-soluble pigments present in vacuoles of plants of the order Caryophyllales and in mushrooms of the genera Amanita, Hygrocybe and Hygrophorus. Betalamic acid is a constituent of all betalains. The type of betalamic acid substituent determines the class of betalains. The betacyanins (reddish to violet) contain a cyclo-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (cyclo-DOPA) residue while the betaxanthins (yellow to orange) contain different amino acid or amine residues. The most common betacyanin is betanin (Beetroot Red), present in red beets Beta vulgaris, which is a glucoside of betanidin. The structure of this comprehensive review is as follows: Occurrence of Betalains; Structure of Betalains; Spectroscopic and Fluorescent Properties; Stability; Antioxidant Activity; Bioavailability, Health Benefits; Betalains as Food Colorants; Food Safety of Betalains; Other Applications of Betalains; and Environmental Role and Fate of Betalains.

Keywords: antioxidant; betacyanins; betalains; betanidin; betanin; betaxanthins; food colorants.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Betalains / chemistry*
  • Betalains / pharmacology*
  • Biological Availability
  • Biological Products / chemistry
  • Biological Products / pharmacology
  • Chemical Phenomena
  • Coloring Agents / chemistry*
  • Coloring Agents / pharmacology*
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Food Safety
  • Molecular Structure
  • Phytochemicals / chemistry
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Spectrum Analysis
  • Structure-Activity Relationship


  • Antioxidants
  • Biological Products
  • Coloring Agents
  • Food Coloring Agents
  • Phytochemicals
  • Pigments, Biological
  • Betalains