What is Anthocyanins?Anthocyanins are water-soluble phytochemicals with a typical red to blue color. Anthocyanins belong to the group of flavonoids, polyphenolic molecules containing 15 carbon atoms and which can be visualized as two benzene rings joined together with a short three carbon chain. They can be found in tissues of plants, including leaves, stems, roots, flowers and fruits. Anthocyanins occur mainly as glycosides of anthocyanidins such as cyanidin, delphinidin, peonidin, pelargonidin, petunidin and malvidin.
DistributionAnthocyanins can be found in numerous plants, but high levels are present in acai, backcurrant, blueberry, bilberry, cherry, red grape and purple corn.
Health Benefits of AnthocyaninsAlthough anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants in vitro, their real biological activity will be low because of their low stability and poor absorption. Most studies on the potential health benefits of anthocyanins have been focused on its effect on cardiovascular health, its anti-cancer activity and anti-inflammatory properties.
The beneficial biological effects of anthocyanins on cardiovascular health may be driven by their affinity for proteins and their antioxidant activity. Anthocyanins can act on different cells involved in the development of arthrosclerosis.
Studies have shown that anthocyanins may act as anti-cancer agents by inhibit promotion and progression of tumor cells by stopping the growth of pre-malignant cells, increasing the apoptosis of cancer cells and inhibiting the growth of new blood vessels that nourish tumors.
The anti-inflammatory action of anthocyanins may be attributed to its direct and strong antioxidant action but also its regulatory effect on the expression of genes involved in the inflammatory response.
Facts about AnthocyaninsPlants produce anthocyanins for many different reasons. Animals are attracted to the red and purple colours in fruits, whereas the bright anthocyanin colors in flowers attract insects for pollination. Anthocyanins also protect the plant cells against damage caused by UV radiation.