Anthocyanins are water-soluble plant pigments that give flowers, fruits and leaves their blue, red and purple colors (some red-colored vegetables however are not pigmented by anthocyanines but by betalains).
The word “anthocyanin” comes from two Greek words: “anthos” which means flower and “cyan” wich means blue.
Over 500 different types of anthocyanins have been detected and isolated from plants. The food industry uses them to color foods because they are not
known to be toxic.
They are extracted from grapeskin, a byproduct of grape juice production. But other sources are red cabbage and aronia.
Berries are a very important dietary source of anthocyanins, they are tasty, easy to include in your diet and, as we will see below, very good for your health.
Anthocyanins have strong antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, and scientific studies have shown in different tests involving animals,
clinical trials with humans and cell culture studies that they have some surprising health effects (source):
- Improved visual health
- Improved neurological health and neuroprotective effects
- Prevention of Cardiovascular disease
- Anti-cancer properties
- Diabetes management
Visit our website to learn more about the Health benefits of berries
Eat a varied and colorful diet
According to one study
Americans obtain their anthocyanines from different sources such as berries (20%), wine (16%), grapes (11%), non-citrus fruit juices (6%), yougurt (6%).
A regular daily intake of colorful fruits and vegetables is crucial for your health (read more about the role of fruits and veggies a balanced diet).
This study also asserts that not reaching the recommended daily intake levels of fruits and vegetables cause arond 1.7 million deaths each year, glocally. These deaths are due to heart disease, stroke and gastrointestinal cancer.
Anthocyanin concentrations in different types of food
Below we list the “TOP” vegetables and fruits according to their anthocyanin contant (see full list):
The values are given in mg per 100g of vegetable or fruit:
- 1480 – chokeberry
- 1375 – elderberry
- 687 – black raspbery
- 487 – wild blueberry
- 476 – blackcurrant
- 387 – cultivated blueberry
- 322 – red cabbage
- 245 – blackberry
- 140 – cranberry
- 120 – concord grape
- 100 – red radish
- 92 – red raspberry
- 86 – eggplant
- 48 – red onion
- 44 – back bean
- 42 – strawbery
- 12 – red delicious apple
As you can see, berries occupy the top positions, but there are some veggies there too (red cabbage, eggplant, black beans and red raddish).
Anthocyanins are found in black carrot, purple corn, purple potato, edible flowers (red clover, red pinepple sage, red hibiscus).
Eat them fresh or frozen
During the summer berry season you can eat them fresh, adding them to your breakfast cereal or yougurt. You can garnish salads with them or use them as
savory healthy snacks.