It is well known that beetroot quality is determined mainly by the red pigment content (betacyanins) and its uniformity of the root. The effect of the most important red pigment components (betanin). the total polyphenol content and antioxidants were studied in 20 beet root varieties. Antioxidants were expressed in FRAP (ferric reducing ability of plasma) values in pM/I.
Our results indicated a close correlation (r = 0.7799 and r = 0.7435. respectively) between betanin and total polyphenol contents of the root as well as between FRAP values.
Our measurements showed more than threefold differences in total antioxidant activity among varieties. the lowest value being 196.4 13M/1 and highest 702.57 pM/I. The corresponding betanin (16.3 and 57.8 mg/100 ml) and total polyphenol (37.5 and 85.5 mg/100 ml respectively) contents show similar differences. Based on our results it can be stated that varieties of higher betanin and poliphenol contents have higher antioxidant values as well.
Accordingly, the two compounds must have a role in the evolution of antioxidant effects.
Information of the total pigment content of table beet roots is not sufficient enough to estimate their suitability to processing. Differences in the occurrence of the red pigment components of different thermostability determine the mode of processing of the varieties. Pigment extraction methods which require heat treatment (e.g. table beet root powder) need raw materials of higher betanin content.
Of the tested varieties — Bonel, Nero, Favorit, Rubin and Detroit — Bonel and Favorit had the highest betanin content (50.03 and 49.53 mg/100g, respectively).
The isobetanin quantity varies according to varieties (13.10-26.62 mg/100g). Values between 2.92-6.63 mg/100g and 0.96-2.96 mg/100g. respectively were found for betanidin and isobetanidin.
Data revealed the highest BC/BX ratio in the variety Rubin (2.08) indicating good inner colour in sensory tests. However, the high total pigment content (81.01 mg/I00g) was associated with lower betanin content (46,26 mg/100g) and at the same time, with higher isobetanin (25.16 mg/100g), betanidin (6.63 mg/100g) and isobetanidin (2.96 nig/100g) contents. Out of the tested varieties Nero had the lowest total red pigment content (57.43 mg/100g) but the relative betanin value was the highest with nearly 70 %.
Laboratory testing of the table beet root varieties will be required to find the most suitable material to produce colouring agents.