Natural pigments are food colorings obtained from natural sources. Pigments mainly extracted from animal and plant tissues and microorganisms (cultures), of which plant colorants are the majority. Natural pigments not only have the function of coloring food, but also a considerable part of natural pigments have physiological activity.
Most plant pigments have no side effects and are highly safe. Plant pigments are mostly anthocyanins, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which are a class of biologically active substances and functional active ingredients in botanical medicines and health food. In view of the fact that plant pigments are used as coloring additives in food, medicine and cosmetics, the dosage cannot reach the dose-effect ratio of medical and health care products. In the application of health food, this type of plant pigment can play an auxiliary role in enhancing human immune function, anti-oxidation, lowering blood lipids, etc.
Natural pigments are divided into three categories according to their sources: plant pigments, such as chlorophyll in green leaves, carotene in carrots, lycopene in tomatoes, etc.; animal pigments, such as heme in muscles, astaxanthin in shrimp shells, etc. ; Microbial pigments, such as Monascus pigments on the surface of soy tofu.
Natural pigments can also be classified into porphyrin derivatives and isoprene derivatives according to their structure. Polyphenol derivatives, ketone derivatives, quinone derivatives and six other categories.