The key difference between anthocyanins and anthoxanthins is that anthocyanins are a group of blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants, while anthoxanthins are a group of white or yellowish color pigments found in plants.
Pigments are a set of compounds that has a peculiar color and are extensively used in the coloring of materials. Pigments are also known as biological pigments or biochromes as they are true pigments found in plants and animals. Anthocyanins and anthoxanthins are two groups of plant pigments.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What are Anthocyanins
3. What are Anthoxanthins
4. Similarities – Anthocyanins and Anthoxanthins
5. Anthocyanins vs Anthoxanthins in Tabular Form
6. Summary – Anthocyanins vs Anthoxanthins
What are Anthocyanins?
Anthocyanins are blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants. These pigments give colors to flowers, fruits, and tubers. They are also known as anthocyans. They are water-soluble vacuolar pigments. Depending on the pH, these pigments may appear red, purple, blue, or black. This name was first coined by German pharmacist Ludwig Clamor Marquart in 1835. Some plant foods that are rich in anthocyanins include blueberry, raspberry, black rice, and black soybean. Moreover, some of the colors of autumn leaves are also derived from anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins occur in all tissues of higher plants, including leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and fruits. They originate from anthocyanidins by adding sugar molecules to the structure. Anthocyanins are usually odorless and moderately astringent. Anthocyanins belong to a parent class of compounds called flavonoids synthesized through the phenylpropanoid pathway. European Union has approved the use of anthocyanins to color foods and beverages. However, they are not approved for use as a food additive because they have not been verified as safe when used as supplement ingredients. Furthermore, there is no conclusive evidence to prove that anthocyanins play a role in human diseases.
What are Anthoxanthins?
Anthoxanthins are white or creamy yellow pigments found in plants, especially in flower petals. They are colorful flavonoid pigments present in plants. They are also water-soluble in nature. Anthoxanthins change their color based on the pH in the medium. Therefore, they are whiter in an acid medium and yellowish in an alkaline medium. Similar to anthocyanins, anthoxanthins are also susceptible to color changes with minerals and metal ions.
Like all flavonoids, anthoxanthins also possess antioxidant properties. Anthoxanthins are used in the food industry as food additives. Therefore, they are very valuable nutritionally. Anthoxanthins that are darkening with iron are particularly prominent in food products. Furthermore, they are considered to have more variety than anthocyanins. Some examples of anthoxanthins are quercetin, betaxanthin, and canthaxanthin.
What are the Similarities Between Anthocyanins and Anthoxanthins?
- Anthocyanins and anthoxanthins are two types of plant pigments
- They are flavanoids.
- Both pigments are susceptible to color changes with minerals and metal ions.
- Both pigments are water-soluble.
- They have antioxidant properties.
What is the Difference Between Anthocyanins and Anthoxanthins?
Anthocyanins are blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants, while anthoxanthins are white, creamy, or yellow pigments found in plants. Thus, this is the key difference between anthocyanins and anthoxanthins. Furthermore, anthocyanins are considered to have less variety compared to anthoxanthins, while anthoxanthins are considered to have more variety compared to anthocyanins. Moreover, anthocyanins are not used as food additives, while anthoxanthins can be used as food additives.
The below infographic presents the differences between anthocyanins and anthoxanthins in tabular form for side-by-side comparison.
Summary – Anthocyanins vs Anthoxanthins
There are four major pigments found in plants. These are chlorophyll, carotenoids, anthocyanins, and anthoxanthins. They are also known as biological pigments. Anthocyanins are blue, red, or purple pigments found in plants, while anthoxanthins are white or creamy yellow pigments found in plants. They are flavonoids, and both have antioxidant properties. Anthocyanins are used to color foods and beverages, while anthoxanthins are used as food additives. So, this summarizes the difference between anthocyanins and anthoxanthins.
1. Khoo, Hock Eng, et al. “Anthocyanidins and Anthocyanins: Colored Pigments as Food, Pharmaceutical Ingredients, and the Potential Health Benefits.” Food & Nutrition Research, Taylor & Francis, 13 Aug. 2017.
2. “Anthoxanthin.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
1. “Figure 1 Chemical structures of the three main types of anthocyanins” By FlowerPowerH2020 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Chou-fleur 02” By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia