Anthocyanins are flavonoids that are found in certain plant pigments. The anthocyanins found in plants give flowers, fruit and wine their dark red, purple, or blue color. These phytochemicals are important parts of a diet. They provide many health benefits to people due to their antioxidant power. When you eat a food containing anthocyanins you are ingesting super-foods that help alleviate many conditions and prevent disease. Here is a small sampling of the conditions that anthocyanins have been proven to help in the body:
Inflammation: Inflammation causes pain for many people, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Instead of relying on over the counter pain relievers and meds, try using a natural approach. Fill your diet with berries and fruit containing anthocyanins. Anthocyanins neutralize the enzymes that cause inflammation and destroy connective tissue. They also prevent oxidants from damaging the tissues, and repair damaged blood vessel proteins.
Brain damage: Brain damage is a debilitating condition that is often due to old age, but this flavonoid can help. It also may have an effect on memory and acuity. Anthocyanin has been shown to reverse age-related brain damage and neurological conditions via blueberry supplements. In the brain, anthocyanin is especially useful since its antioxidant properties protect the brain, which is vulnerable to oxidant damage.
Atherosclerosis: Atherosclerosis is the thickening of blood vessel walls and can cause blockage. Plaque build up clogs arteries and can result in a heart attack. Anthocyanin prevents the damage from low-density lipoproteins or LDL (the bad cholesterol). People who have a diet rich in fruits and wine have been shown to have reduced LDL. They also protect cells that line the walls in the blood vessels, preventing the synthesis of atherosclerosis.
Diabetes Complications: Diabetes is marked by an inability to properly metabolize blood sugar and uncontrolled diabetes causes many problems. The complications of diabetes are caused by micro-vessel damage from the blood sugar levels. Anthocyanins have been shown to reduce abnormal collagen production in adults with diabetes. Anthocyanins also help prevent abnormal protein growth that causes retinopathy by preventing the damaged capillaries from leaking.
Tumors: Tumors are mass growth of cancer-causing cells. Although cancer currently has no cure, some tests have shown that anthocyanins may have an effect on reducing tumor cells in humans. This could help stop cancer-causing tumors from growing rapidly.
Bilberries and blueberries have the most anthocyanins and should be part of a daily diet. Blueberries and bilberries could be thrown in cereal in the mornings or eaten with yogurt. Berry-based wines are another way to offer antioxidants to your body when they are drank in moderation. Anthocyanins have many benefits for people and they are found in berries and other fruit that we should have as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Although this is exciting news for our berry buddies, they should not be used as the sole medication for these conditions. Testing of the effects of anthocyanins in various fruit is still being performed and there is much research to be done before significant conclusive evidence can occur. Other reactions and nutrients are involved and work together with the anthocyanins. It is difficult to do good research without isolating the anthocyanins. They may work well in laboratories, but fruit is eaten as a whole. It is better to eat fresh food rather than rely on supplements. People are still advised to take care of themselves by exercising regularly and eating a varied, balanced diet. A healthy diet is the key to preventing many of these conditions by providing the cells with antioxidants, nutrients, and vitamins essential for growth, development, and repair.