PIGMENT PROFILING OF FLOWER CROPS: A REVIEWPoonam Kumari, Sapna Panwar, Thaneshwari, Namita, Sapna Kaushal and Shisa Ullas P.
Pigments responsible for the appearance of colors in higher plants are classified as chlorophylls, carotenoids, flavonoids and betalains. Pigments not only endow nature with attractive colors but also contribute towards improving health and lower the risk of diseases. The antioxidant properties of pigments have been suggested as being the main mechanism by which they impart their beneficial effects. Anthocyanin compounds have high free radical scavenging capacity and play an essential role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes and other diseases. Similarly, carotenoids have health-promoting effects: immune enhancement and reduction of the risk of developing degenerative diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, cataract and macular degeneration. In spite of the health benefits the natural pigments accrue, the use of synthetic pigments comprising of heavy metals is rampant in the food and beverage industry. In this era of going back to nature it is imperative to use the natural pigments in pharmaceutical and food industry. Pigment profiling involves the isolation, separation and characterization of pigments. Trends in pigment analysis reflect not only advances in analytical methodology and instrumentation, but also on current knowledge of their functions or actions. The biology and health benefits of plant pigments have led researchers to discover modify and utilize techniques for the extraction, separation and quantification of these compounds from natural sources. Techniques like HPLC-MS, HPLC-PAD and HPLC- NMR are most effective techniques for characterization of pigments. In recent years, research on plant pigments attracted more and more attention, especially their isolation and purification in some of the pigment rich fruit and vegetable crops. In contrast, there have been few studies on flower crops which are otherwise well known for the presence of a variety of pigments with myriad colours.
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