In the past, fruits and vegetables accounted for a large portion of the food that people eat every day. This lifestyle is characterized by a rich and healthy diet. Later, people realized that many pigments that can bring bright colors to fruits and vegetables are also very valuable nutrients. Modern technology can also be applied to develop more sophisticated products. There are many pigments in nature, some of which can be used as food colorings or as important nutrients. The color of these pigments is mostly between yellow, orange and red.
Anthocyanins are a class of natural pigments found in fruits and vegetables that give fruits and vegetables a red to blue hue. In industrial production, the most common sources of pigments are grapes, elderberries, raspberries and red cabbage (purple cabbage). Anthocyanins not only can be used as pigments, but also have many biological activities. Different sources of anthocyanins have different characteristics. Anthocyanins derived from grape skin can reduce the risk of heart disease. Anthocyanins derived from elderberry are resistant to influenza virus, and anthocyanins derived from raspberries have a good protective effect on vision.
Another major class of natural pigments with nutritional properties is carotenoids. Carotenoids are widely distributed in nature and generally appear yellow, orange and red. Most fruits and vegetables contain a mixture of carotenoids. The extracts obtained from these fruits and vegetables are an important source of essential nutrients for humans. It has been confirmed that there are 600 different carotenoids in nature. Beta-carotene is the most common carotenoid and has been widely used in food processing. Beta-carotene has been used in butter and margarine for many years. It not only provides yellow color to these products, but also Vitamin A can be provided, mainly because β-carotene can be converted into vitamin A in the human body. In many countries, it is stipulated that margarine must be supplemented with vitamin A. Therefore, beta-carotene is the source of vitamin A.
The most abundant carotenoid in nature is the fruit of palm oil, which contains alpha, beta and gamma-carotene and lycopene. Many consumers have recognized that mixed carotenoids are good for human health. Natural carotene has become a very common pigment that can provide attractive yellow and orange color to the product.
Lutein is a yellow pigment from marigold. It was realized that it was an antioxidant that could fight the degradation of spots (a disease that causes blindness in the elderly). Lycopene is a bright red pigment that is a powerful antioxidant that can prevent many types of cancer. Curcumin is also antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory properties.