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See also: Betalain
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Chemical structure of the betalain amaranthin.


Coined to describe the pigments as derivatives from betalamic acid, from Latin bēta (beet), +‎ -in.


betalain (plural betalains)

  1. A class of red and yellow indole-derived water-soluble pigments found in beets and other plants of the Caryophyllales and used commercially as coloring agents.
    • 1981, Arthur Cronquist, An Integrated System of Classification of Flowering Plants, page 237:
      Among the angiosperms, betalains are known only in the Caryophyllales, although they also occur in some Basidiomycetes.
    • 1992 — Frank B. Salisbury & Cleon W. Ross, Plant Physiology, 4th ed., p. 325.
      Neither the red betacyanins nor the other kind of betalain pigments, the yellow betaxanthins, are at all structurally related to the anthocyanins, and anthocyanins and betalains do not occur together in the same plant.
    • 2004 — Luisa Tesoriere, Mario Allegra, Daniela Butera, & Maria A. Livrea. "Absorption, excretion, and distribution of dietary anioxidant betalains in LDLs: potential health effects of betalains in humans." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80: 941-945.
      Betalains, known for a long time as safe colorants for food or other industrial purposes, are phytochemicals that were recently classified as antioxidants.