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J Food Sci Technol. 2017 May;54(6):1729-1741. doi: 10.1007/s13197-017-2579-7. Epub 2017 Mar 16.

Achiote (Bixa orellana L.): a natural source of pigment and vitamin E.

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Programa de Doctorado en Biología Experimental, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 09340 Iztapalapa, Mexico, D.F. Mexico.
Laboratorio de Fisiología, Bioquímica y Biología Molecular de Plantas, Departamento de Ciencias de la Salud DCBS, Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, 09340 Iztapalapa, Mexico, D.F. Mexico.
Instituto de Biotecnología, Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (IB-INTA) y Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET), PO Box 25, B1712WAA Castelar, Argentina.
Cátedra Divisional Amelia Samano Bishop, Universidad Autónoma, Metropolitana, Iztapalapa, Colegio de Ciencias y Humanidades, Plantel Casa Libertad, Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México, México, D.F. México.
Instituto Tecnológico de Conkal, 97345 Conkal, Yucatán Mexico.
Unidad de Bioquímica y Biología Molecular de Plantas, Centro de Investigación Científica de Yucatán (CICY), 97200 Mérida, Yucatán Mexico.


Commercialization of agricultural products, including seeds and its derived products, represents an important economic source for developing countries. Natural colorants obtained from the seeds of achiote plant (annatto) have been used since pre-Hispanic times. Also, production of this crop has been important for Mayan cuisine. Annual world production of achiote seeds is approximately 14,500 tons (dry weight). Two thirds of the production is commercialized as dried seeds and the rest as colorant. Latin America produces 60% of the total world production, followed by Africa (27%) and Asia (12%). The main producers in Latin America are Peru, Brazil and Mexico. The purpose of the present paper is to review the most recent literature on Bixa orellana L. focusing on bixin, norbixin, tocotrienols and tocopherols biosynthesis, use and industrial applications of annatto extracts, as well as its nutraceutical potential and its benefits for human health.


Annatto extract; Bixin; Norbixin; Tocopherols; Tocotrienols

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