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December 2015 – Vol. 98 No. 4

Betalains are water-soluble, nitrogen-containing pigments that reportedly have disease-preventing and health-promoting properties, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, phase II detoxifying enzyme-inducing and anti-cancer activities. Through encapsulation using combinations of carbohydrate biopolymers, the red-purple color of betalains can be protected and stabilized under various storage conditions, normal food processing temperatures, and various pH levels of food and biological systems. As a natural colorant, betalains from the peel of red dragon fruit [Hylocereus polyrhizus (Weber) Britton & Rose] can be developed as an alternative to synthetic food colorant.

{Photographs courtesy of David Joram R. Mendoza and Mark Louis P. Vidallon, Institute of Chemistry, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines Los Baños, College, Laguna 4031, Philippines}