Usage of beetroot extract in plant-based meat

Beetroot (Beta vulgaris L. ssp. vulgaris) is a root vegetable from the Amaranthaceae family, which is a rich antioxidant source for phenolic compounds and betalains. Betalain is a water-soluble nitrogenous pigment, and its basic structure comprises of betalamic acid. Betalamic acid, which forms the structure of the betalains, convert into betacyanins (red) and betaxanthin (yellow) as a result of biosynthesis with different molecules. Betacyanins are betanidine glycosides while betaxanthins are condensation products of betalamic acid and amino acids or amines, sequentially. Approximately 60 betacyanins and 33 betaxanthins are found in nature.

Usage of beetroot extract in plant-based meat

Betalains are nontoxic as compared to synthetic colorants which are considered toxic and do not cause allergic reactions. Anthocyanins which are acid resistant are mainly used as natural pigments, the color of betalains is relatively stable over a wide pH range (3–7) and are a suitable colorant for low acid foods. The coloring power of Betalains is more as their molar extinction coefficient value is higher as compared to synthetic colorants. Betalains have been proven to be beneficial to human health due to their potential values like anti-inflammatory activity, inhibit lipid oxidation and peroxidation, provide chemo preventive effects, and increases resistance to the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins.

Sodium nitrate and nitrite are extensively used in meat products for various purposes like in providing an antimicrobial effect, typical taste and aroma, and desired curing color, and preventing autooxidation. But nitrate and nitrite cause the formation of carcinogenic nitroso compounds such as N-nitrosodimethylamine in cured meat products It is also stated that nitrate is a potentially toxic food additive. Hence, the use of synthetic additives has been reduced because of their toxicity and has gradually increased the demand for natural colorants such as annatto, curcumin, betalains, pepper, tomato and Monascus fungi, which provide a stable bright red color.

Usage of beetroot extract in plant-based meat

Plant based meat has taken the world by storm, which are used to describe foods that mimic meat products but are made from plants. Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat Burger both have redefined the veggie burger and meat products market as both of them mimic the texture and flavor of real beef.

Usage of beetroot extract in plant-based meat

The Impossible Burger contains:

Soy Protein Concentrate, Water, Sunflower Oil, Coconut Oil, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Potato Protein, Methylcellulose, Yeast Extract, Cultured Dextrose, Food Starch Modified, Soy Leghemoglobin, Soy Protein Isolate, Salt, Zinc Gluconate, Mixed Tocopherols (Vitamin E), Thiamine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1), Sodium Ascorbate (Vitamin C), Niacin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride (Vitamin B6), Riboflavin (VitaminB2), Vitamin B12.

Usage of beetroot extract in plant-based meat

The Beyond Burger contains:

Pea Protein Isolate, Water, Refined Coconut Oil, Expeller Pressed Canola Oil, contains 2% or less of the following: Cellulose from Bamboo, Methylcellulose, Potato Starch, Natural Flavor, Maltodextrin, Yeast Extract, Sunflower Oil, Salt, Dried Yeast, Vegetable Glycerin, Gum Arabic, Citrus Extract (to protect quality), Ascorbic Acid (to maintain color), Beet Juice Extract (for color), Succinic Acid, Acetic acid, Annatto (for color), Modified food starch.

The ingredients of the two burgers are quite similar, the exception being the main protein source. In Beyond Meat pea protein is used instead of soy protein, and no soy leghemoglobin used for providing red color, which is Impossible’s key ingredient that makes the burger “bleed.”

Red color in Beyond Burger’s patty is due to beet extract and not from heme which comes from the leghemoglobin in the case of Impossible patty.

ProsMeat and dairy products lacks fiber and natural phytochemicals that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, which we can get from some meatless alternatives. Meat substitutes have low amount of saturated fats and higher in fiber. Meat substitutes can provide the same amount of protein as ground beef and can taste just as good too. Beyond meat (pea protein, gluten/soy free) mimics the taste and texture of real meat.

Despite the fact that some of the meat analogues are highly processed and are not considered ecofriendly in all ways but they are usually associated with lower greenhouse gas emissions and less impact on global warming.

Cons: However, these plant-based meats have some not so good qualities too like they can be heavy in food colorings, textural additives and are high in sodium.

Some of the issues related with the meat substitutes, such as soybeans in which, Hexane, which is a chemical solvent used to remove oil from soybeans, is a neurotoxin and an air pollutant.


Beetroot is truly an exceptional source of biologically active compounds of great nutritional, health, and technological value. Some of them are betalains, phenolic compounds (flavonoids and phenolic acids), and inorganic nitrate, which are of key interest for the meat industry due to their functional and technological properties, such as colorants, antioxidants, and preservatives.

The use of beetroot extracts instead of the direct application of dehydrated beetroot or beetroot juice has several advantages, including the concentration of bioactive compounds. Due to this, a greater antioxidant power and coloring is expected when beetroot extracts are used as opposed to the direct addition of beetroot ingredients. In addition, the major drawback which limits the direct application of beetroot in meat products is the presence of geosmin, which gives an undesirable earthy flavor, which could be solved by using extracts and not direct addition of beetroot ingredients.

The extraction conditions and processing conditions of the bioactive compounds from the beetroot must be optimized according to the meat (of food) product application.

Lastly, the effects of the addition of beetroot (or beetroot extracts) in the formulations of plant-based meat products should be extensively studied. This allows partial or full replacement of synthetic additives for use in multiple meat products.

Read our latest article on: IMITATION FOODS


Review Paper-Red Beetroot. A Potential Source of Natural Additives for the Meat Industry Rubén Domínguez , Paulo E. S. Munekata , Mirian Pateiro , Aristide Maggiolino ,Benjamin Bohrer and JoséM. Lorenzo


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