by Matt Weik
If you are a berry-lover, you might be aware of how these tiny berries are full of powerful antioxidants and the incredible health benefits they offer.
Fruits and vegetables are a part of a balanced diet, but do you know that you can get health benefits from food items with a vibrant purple hue? Anthocyanin is one of the best examples. Let’s see what’s so special about anthocyanin and why you should incorporate it into your nutrition plan.
What is Anthocyanin?
Anthocyanin is an antioxidant that belongs to the flavonoid family (the same family as found in wine, dark chocolate, and tea). Flavonoids are a part of polyphenol, which help prevent and treat health conditions related to oxidative stress and inflammation, including things like cancer, heart disease, and more.
Anthocyanin is derived from plants and is commonly used for dyes, food colorants, and additives. It is commonly found in red, purple, and blue fruits and vegetables.
Undoubtedly, anthocyanins can be an excellent addition to your diet. It is not just packed with nutrients but is extremely delicious.
Food Sources That Contain Anthocyanin
Here are a few fruits and veggies that contain anthocyanins (per 100 grams):
- Mulberries: 1.4-704 mg
- Black Elderberries: 17-463 mg
- Strawberries: 4-48 mg
- Red Raspberries: 5-38 mg
- Blueberries: 11-26 mg
- Red Wine: 4-10 mg
- Red Onions: 7 mg
Apart from that, items like black carrot, cabbage, purple corn, and more can provide anthocyanins around 200-300 mg per 100 grams. The anthocyanin content varies mostly because of area, climate, temperature, and many other factors. To maximize anthocyanin consumption, make sure to eat it in the raw form.
The Health Benefits Associated with Anthocyanins
Below are some of the benefits generally associated with the consumption of foods that contain anthocyanins.
1. Reduce Inflammation
As per studies, anthocyanins help in reducing inflammation. A study on people with high cholesterol shows that people supplementing with 320 mg of anthocyanins twice a day had a reduction in inflammation.
The consumption of anthocyanins also helps reduce health conditions caused by chronic inflammation like type-2 diabetes, heart conditions, and more. Including anthocyanins in your nutrition plan can also protect you from various diseases.
2. Improve Brain Function
According to the studies, anthocyanins help improve brain function, as it aids in boosting memory, attention, and processing speed.
A review says that anthocyanins help to improve verbal learning in children and adults with cognitive disorders.
If you’re looking for something to help protect your memory, improve coordination, and neural function, start adding foods high in anthocyanins to your daily nutrition plan.
3. Improve Heart Health
Having a balanced diet rich in anthocyanins can help in improving your heart health. A study found that drinking 200 ml of cherry juice (rich in natural anthocyanins) can help in regulating blood pressure.
Additionally, a review found that a diet rich in anthocyanins can reduce the risk of heart diseases by around 9%.
4. Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Studies say that anthocyanins contain strong cancer-fighting abilities. Also, these properties help in cancer treatment. Anthocyanins help in preventing the cancer cells from multiplying and spreading throughout the body. Also, it helps activate genes that may help kill prostate cancer cells.
What Are the Symptoms of an Anthocyanin Deficiency?
There are no proper studies to back the symptoms of anthocyanins deficiency. But let’s say, if your body doesn’t get enough antioxidant compounds or anti-inflammatory compounds, you may notice:
- Fatigue and slow recovery from illness.
- Unclear thinking or various cognitive issues.
- Slow muscle recovery after a physical exercise.
Potential Side Effects of Anthocyanins
Though anthocyanins are generally considered safe, supplementing with too many may lead to various issues. It is basically because the anthocyanin supplements provide polyphenols in larger quantities than what you will get from sources found in a healthy diet.
A study on animals shows that supplementing with a high dose of anthocyanins may damage the kidneys, cause tumors, or lead to unbalance in thyroid hormones.
Another study shows that polyphenol supplements interact with various medications and may lower the absorption of nutrients in the diet.
Should You Be Using or Supplementing with Anthocyanins?
Anthocyanins can help in treating various health conditions and improving overall health.
There are various anthocyanins supplements available on the market, but it is recommended to obtain it from whole foods whenever possible, as it is rich in various other health-promoting nutrients as well.