The name "betalain" comes from the Latin name of the common beetroot Beta vulgaris. They are found in the petals of flowers, but may colour the fruits, leaves, stems and roots of plants that contain them. Betalains are aromatic indole derivatives synthesised from the amino acid tyrosine and are a form of hydrochloric acid and there are two categories of betalains.
Beta-cyanins are the red to violet pigments. Among the betacyanins present in plants include betanin, isobetanin, probetanin, and neobetanin.
Beta-xanthins are yellow to orange pigments. Among the betaxanthins present in plants include vulgaxanthin, miraxanthin, portulaxanthin, and indicaxanthin.
Where betalains occur in plants, they sometimes coexist with anthoxanthins (yellow to orange flavonoids), but never occur in plant species with anthocyanins (blue to purple and black flavonoids).
Betalains provide a higher antioxidant value than beta-carotene and have
anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and detoxifying properties and help to make red blood cells.