Natural Food Pigments and Colorants

Living reference work entry
Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


Extensive structure elucidation resulted in detailed information about anthocyanins, betacyanins, carotenoids, and chlorophylls, the major natural pigments in plant-derived foods. Modifications of the basic skeleton form a broad diversity of structures for anthocyanins and carotenoids. The chromophores responsible for the pleasant colors and the factors affecting them have been delineated. Identification of sources and determination of the composition in foods have also been widely pursued. Stability and influencing factors, alterations during processing and storage of foods, and stabilization methods have been studied as part of the effort to retain the natural color of foods and to substitute artificial food dyes with natural colorants, this substitution being justified by concern about the safety of artificial colorants and by the potential health benefits of the natural colorants. Carotenoids have been the most investigated in terms of health effects, involving epidemiological, in vitro, animal, and human intervention studies. A wide range of biological activities have been attributed to anthocyanins, based mainly on cell culture and animal studies; human clinical studies are lacking. Investigations of the potential health benefits of betacyanin and chlorophyll are in their initial stages.


Natural pigments Natural colorants Anthocyanin Betacyanin Carotenoid Chlorophyll Bioactive compounds Health benefits 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Food EngineeringUniversity of CampinasCampinasBrazil
  2. 2.Universidade Federal da Fonteira SulLaranjeiras do SulBrazil

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