- Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects. Found naturally in a number of foods, anthocyanins are the pigments that give berries, red onions, kidney beans, pomegranates, and grapes their rich coloring. In addition to acting as antioxidants and fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anti-cancer benefits.
- In herbal medicine, anthocyanin-rich substances have long been used to treat a number of conditions (including high blood pressure, colds, and urinary tract infections). Recent research suggests that anthocyanins may also help fend off major health problems, including heart disease and cancer.
- Heart Disease: According to a 2010 report published in Nutrition Reviews, anthocyanins appear to improve cholesterol levels and blood sugar metabolism, as well as fight oxidative stress (a process known to play a role in heart disease).
- High Blood Pressure:Dietary intake of anthocyanins may also help prevent high blood pressure (a major risk factor for heart disease), according to a 2011 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Obesity: In a 2008 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists found that mice fed an anthocyanin-enriched high-fat diet for eight weeks gained less weight than mice fed a high-fat diet without anthocyanins.
- Breast Cancer: Scientists have shown that anthocyanins extracted from blueberries helped inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells.