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Berries Of The Basella Alba L. Plant Could Be A Viable New Source Of Natural Food Color

September 14, 2010: 11:56 PM EST

Researchers in Taiwan have discovered that the dark-colored berries of the Basella alba L. plant, commonly grown in Taiwan, could become a viable source of natural red pigments for food manufacturers. The scientists found that the pigments were stable at temperatures up to 140 degrees F, meaning that they “could be used in dry state or minimally processed foods.” Solutions of all three pigments became less stable when subjected to temperatures of 194 degrees to 248 degrees F. The berries are rich in betalains: water-soluble natural pigments that include red-violet betacyanins and yellow betaxanthins. The authors identified gomphrenin as the major pigment, followed by betanidin-dihexose and isobetanidindihexose. The researchers concluded that the natural pigments offer “value-added potential for use in the development of food colorants.”

Shu-Mei Lin, Bo-Hong Lin, Wan-Mei Hsieh, Huey-Jiun Ko, Chi-Dong Liu, Lih-Geeng Chen, and Robin Y.-Y. Chiou, "Structural Identification and Bioactivities of Red-Violet Pigments Present in Basella alba Fruits", J. Agric. Food Chem., Article ASAP, September 14, 2010, © American Chemical Society
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