When you hear about natural blue colorants in food and drinks, what comes to mind?
Blueberries? No, food scientists want to tell you not to be fooled by the name, as blueberries are actually purple anthocyanins.
Currently, the only two natural blue colors found in nature are blue spirulina extract and butterfly pea flower. Let’s compare Blue Spirulina VS Butterfly Pea Extract!
What are blue spirulina extract VS butterfly pea powder?
Blue spirulina extract is also called phycocyanin, spirulina extract, a natural pigment extracted from spirulina. Spirulina is an ancient lower prokaryotic single cell that has been growing on Earth for 3.5 billion years. Spirulina is the most nutrient-rich and comprehensive organism in nature, containing high-quality proteins, vitamins, and various trace elements. Spirulina also contains a unique “diamond component,” phycocyanin. It is the key factor that helps spirulina boost immunity and antioxidant capacity, and it is also the reason why blue spirulina extracts are so bright blue. Blue spirulina extract is a rare natural colorant in nature, and its blue color is close to the color of the sky and the sea, and is known as Tiffany blue in the food industry.
Butterfly pea flower is a common plant and edible herb in tropical and Southeast Asian regions. The flowers are usually used for making herbal tea and cooking, and desserts, drinks, and rice dishes made from butterfly pea flowers have been popular among young people in these regions for a long time. In 2021, the US FDA approved the application of butterfly pea flower extract for use as a food coloring agent. Unlike spirulina extract, the color of butterfly pea flower extract is greatly affected by acidity and alkalinity, and they can display different colors under different pH values. The blue color of butterfly pea flower extract offers new possibilities and choices for food and beverage brands.
What are the differences between butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract?
Although they are both natural blue colors, there are significant differences between Blue butterfly pea flower extract powder VS Blue spirulina extract.
1. The source: The blue color of butterfly pea powder comes from the petals, the butterfly pea flower is shaped like a butterfly resting on a leaf with dark blue petals, about 4cm long and 3 cm wide. Butterfly pea flowers prefer warm climates, and full and half sun are the best forms of light. So its origins are more likely to be in tropical Asia, mainly in India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and southern China, such as Guangdong, Yunnan, Zhejiang, and Taiwan. Butterfly pea flower extract is a common anthocyanin natural pigment that is often heat-resistant and stable.
Blue spirulina extract, on the other hand, is a pigment-protein extracted from spirulina using gentle physical methods. Binmei takes an innovative gentle physical approach, adding only water as an additive throughout. The extraction process of phycocyanin, it is energy-saving and environmentally sustainable. Like proteins, blue spirulina extract is sensitive and can be easily affected by light, heat, and other factors.
2. Nutrient content: Butterfly pea powder is rich in anthocyanins, which have strong antioxidant properties that can protect the body from free radical damage. It can also enhance blood vessel elasticity. It reported, “Compared with many other plants, anthocyanins from flowers of the butterfly pea have very strong stability. CTAE render the color of blue-green within a wide range of pH 4–10. The stability of CTAE declined with the increase in temperature, and it can be stored stably for months at 4 °C. Surprisingly, in terms of pH, CTAEs were most stable under pH 4–8, and exhibited higher thermal stability at pH 7 (blue) than at pH 0.5 (magenta) or pH 10 (blue-green). Tests of antioxidant properties for butterfly pea flowers also showed good scavenging ability for flower extracts around pH 4–7. In conclusion, anthocyanins from C. ternatea were very stable under low temperature and neutral mild pH conditions and possess good antioxidant activity at pH 4–7, the pH range for most of our consumed food. Blue flowers of C. ternatea are good candidates for natural blue colorants that can be added to food. In consideration of easier preservation, dried blue flowers are recommended for commercial use.”
Furthermore, both butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract are safe to use in the food industry. In the EU food regulations, blue spirulina extract is classified as a food coloring ingredient and is allowed to be added to food without restriction, just like carrots and pumpkins.
3. A guide to choosing Blue Butterfly Pea Extract Powder VS Blue Spirulina Extract
When choosing butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract, several factors should be considered:
1. Based on needs: The selection of butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract should be based on personal needs and product characteristics. For example, whether one needs to enhance the color of the food or to supplement nutrition and enhance immunity. Also, choose the natural blue pigment that is suitable for the pH level and specific requirements of the product.
2. Choose reputable brands: For selecting suppliers of butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract, one should choose reliable suppliers and brands to ensure product safety and quality. BINMEI’s butterfly pea extract and blue spirulina extract are produced using gentle physical extraction methods and have product certifications such as Halal and Kosher.
3. Pay attention to the dosage and storage method: Butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract are natural foods that are sensitive to storage environment. After purchasing them, one should seal them tightly after use, protect them from light and high temperature.
Applications of Blue Butterfly Pea Extract Powder VS Blue Spirulina Extract
Butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract have a wide range of applications in the food industry. Both natural blue pigments can be used in the production of beverages, desserts, cakes, ice cream, etc., to improve food color and nutrition. In addition, blue spirulina extract has extensive applications not only in the food and beverage industry but also in cosmetics and health supplements.
1. Food and Beverage
Butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract can be added to beverages and food processing to enhance color and nutrition, such as milkshakes, juices, dairy products, beverages, candies, chocolates, etc.
2. Natural food colorants
Using butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract as natural food colorants avoids the potential health hazards from artificial colorants, making food healthier and safer.
As rare natural blue pigments in nature, butterfly pea powder and blue spirulina extract have extensive application prospects in the food industry, bringing better food quality and a healthier life to people.