161f Rhodoxanthin

Posted 25 Oct 2023
161f Rhodoxanthin

What is rhodoxanthin, and where is it used?

Rhodoxanthin, also known as E161f, is a natural carotenoid pigment used as a food additive. It belongs to the carotenoid family and is derived from a variety of plant sources such as red peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit [1]. Rhodoxanthin imparts a pink to red colour, and finds applications in various food and beverage items, including dairy products, baked goods, and candies. Rhodoxanthin's stability during processing and storage further contributes to its popularity as a food colouring agent [2].

Purported Health Benefits

  • Antioxidant Activity: Rhodoxanthin possesses potent antioxidant properties, contributing to the neutralisation of harmful free radicals [3]. Its unique chemical structure enables it to scavenge free radicals and protect cells from oxidative stress.

  • Skin Health Promotion: As an antioxidant, rhodoxanthin may aid in supporting healthy skin [3]. This may contribute to maintaining skin integrity and a youthful appearance.

  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Rhodoxanthin exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, potentially helping to reduce inflammation in the body [3]. By inhibiting inflammatory pathways, it may benefit individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions.

  • Potential Anti-Cancer Effects: Preliminary studies suggest that rhodoxanthin may possess anti-cancer properties [3-4]. It may inhibit the growth of cancer cells and offer protection against certain types of cancer. However, further research is needed to fully understand its specific mechanisms and effectiveness.

  • Cardiovascular Health: Preliminary research suggests that rhodoxanthin may have cardiovascular benefits [5]. It may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by preventing oxidative damage, inflammation, and the formation of arterial plaques.

  • Eye Health Support: Rhodoxanthin has been suggested to promote eye health due to its presence in the macula, a part of the retina [6]. It may help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and support optimal visual function.

Recommendations for Safe Consumption

When consuming rhodoxanthin as a food additive, it is generally considered safe for the general public within recommended limits. As with many food additives, moderation is key.

Regarding cooking methods, the recommendations for rhodoxanthin may align with those for other carotenoids. Cooking techniques like steaming or roasting can break down plant cell walls, enhancing the absorption of rhodoxanthin [7]. Steaming helps retain nutrient content, while roasting adds flavour without significant nutrient loss. It is important to avoid overcooking or subjecting rhodoxanthin-rich foods to high temperatures that may degrade the pigment.

While the information regarding pairing rhodoxanthin-rich foods with a source of fat for enhanced absorption is generally applicable to fat-soluble carotenoids, such as cryptoxanthin, there is limited specific research on this aspect for rhodoxanthin [8]. However, incorporating healthy fats like olive oil when consuming rhodoxanthin-rich foods may aid in the absorption of the carotenoid.


  1. Rodriguez-Concepcion M, Avalos J, Bonet ML, Boronat A, Gomez-Gomez L, Hornero-Mendez D, Limon MC, Melendez-Martinez AJ, Olmedilla-Alonso B, Palou A, Ribot J. A global perspective on carotenoids: Metabolism, biotechnology, and benefits for nutrition and health. Progress in lipid research. 2018 Apr 1;70:62-93.

  2. Mussagy CU, Giuffrida D, Meléndez-Martínez AJ, Dufossé L. Rhodoxanthin: The new hit of the natural carotenoids market?. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2023 Apr 23.

  3. Padmavathy K, Sivakumari K, Rajesh S. Exploring Squalene and Rhodoxanthin from Hylocereus undatus as a Therapeutic Agent for the Treatment of Human Liver Cancer using Docking Analysis. Chettinad Health City Medical Journal (E-2278-2044 & P-2277-8845). 2022 Jun 30;11(2):24-32.

  4. Dumitraş DA, Dreanca AI, Pall E, Gal AF, Rus V, Morohoschi AG, Cotul M, Nan MI, Andrei S. Inhibition of tumor growth and modulation of antioxidant activity of rhodoxanthin isolated from Taxus baccata Aril against B16F10 murine malignant melanoma. Antioxidants. 2022 Nov 16;11(11):2264.

  5. Mookerjee A, Borugadda VB, Dalai AK, Meda V. Valorization of hemp hearts oils by advanced extraction techniques and their comparative physicochemical characterization. Applied Food Research. 2022 Jun 1;2(1):100051.

  6. Bone RA, Landrum JT, Hime GW, Cains A, Zamor J. Stereochemistry of the human macular carotenoids. Investigative ophthalmology & visual science. 1993 May 1;34(6):2033-40.

  7. Lee S, Choi Y, Jeong HS, Lee J, Sung J. Effect of different cooking methods on the content of vitamins and true retention in selected vegetables. Food science and biotechnology. 2018 Apr;27:333-42.

  8. Brown MJ, Ferruzzi MG, Nguyen ML, Cooper DA, Eldridge AL, Schwartz SJ, White WS. Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2004 Aug 1;80(2):396-403.


We do our best to source robust information from a number of credible sources.  There is, however, a large amount of information on various aspects of nutritional elements along with  claims in terms of their contribution to helping in body health which may contradict the above.