Betalains as Antioxidants

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Part of the Reference Series in Phytochemistry book series (RSP)


An overview is provided of the status of research on the antioxidant and radical-scavenging properties of betalains, water-soluble pigments found in plants, fungi, and bacteria. Together with anthocyanins, betalains are responsible for most of the red, purple, and blue colors of fruits and flowers, although both classes of secondary metabolites are mutually exclusive in nature. The 1,7-diazaheptamethinium scaffold of betalains promotes their radical-scavenging properties, which involve the occurrence of proton-coupled electron transfer. Betalains derived from cyclo-DOPA, namely betacyanins, are antioxidants as potent as epicatechin gallate from green tea. The other betalains, classified as betaxanthins, also show high antioxidant potential whether they are phenolic or not. Since much of the current understanding of the antioxidant properties of betalains has been derived from studies of model compounds that mimic the reactivity patterns of natural pigments, comprehensive data on the antioxidant action of both natural and pseudo-natural betalains are presented.


Betalains Betacyanins Betaxanthins Antioxidants Radical scavenging Proton-coupled electron transfer Caryophyllales Basidiomycete 



E.L.B thanks the São Paulo Research Foundation – FAPESP (ELB, 2014/14866-2 and 2019/06391-8), the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development – CNPq (ELB, 304094/2013-7), and the Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES, Finance code 001) for financial support.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Departamento de Química Fundamental, Instituto de QuímicaUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Leibniz Institute of Plant BiochemistryDepartment of Secondary MetabolismHalle (Saale)Germany

Section editors and affiliations

  • K. G. Ramawat
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BotanyUniversity College of Science, M. L. Sukhadia UniversityUdaipurIndia

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