What are Anthocyanins? Benefits and Side Effects of Consuming Anthocyanins

What are Anthocyanins?

Anthocyanins, which are also called anthocyanins, are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that, depending on their pH, may appear in different colors such as red, purple, blue, or black.

The word “anthocyanins” is gotten from the Ancient Greek words ἄνθος (ánthos) ‘flower’, and κυανος/κυανοῦς (kuáneos/kuanoûs) ‘dark blue’).

A German pharmacist, Ludwig Clamor Marquart gave the name “anthokyan” to a chemical compound that gives flowers a blue color for the first time in his treatise “Die Farben der Blüten” in 1835.

Food plants such as blueberry, raspberry, black rice, and black soybean, among many others are rich in anthocyanins and some of the colors of autumn leaves are derived from anthocyanins.

Types of Anthocyanins

Types of Anthocyanins

Among the 6,000 known flavonoids, there are six main types of anthocyanins and they are:

  1. Cyanidin
  2. Delphinidin
  3. Malvidin
  4. Pelargonidin
  5. Peonidin
  6. Petunidin

Anthocyanins in Fruits and Vegetables

Anthocyanins are found in some fruits and veggies. Here is a list containing the names of fruits and vegetables that contain anthocyanins and the amount of anthocyanin they contain.

Fruits and Vegetables  Amount of Anthocyanins Present 
Mulberries Mulberries contain 1.4–704 mg of anthocyanins.
Black chokeberries Black chokeberries contain 46–558 mg of anthocyanins.
Black elderberries Black elderberries contain 17–463 mg of anthocyanins.
Black currants Black currants contain 25–305 mg of anthocyanins.
Sweet cherries Sweet cherries contain 7–143 mg of anthocyanins.
Blackberries Blackberries contain 10–139 mg of anthocyanins.
Lingonberries Lingonberries contain 4–49 mg of anthocyanins.
Strawberries Strawberries contain 4–48 mg of anthocyanins.
Sour cherries Sour cherries contain 3–44 mg of anthocyanins. 
Red raspberries Red raspberries contain 5–38 mg of anthocyanins.
Black grapes Black grapes contain 3–39 mg of anthocyanins.
Plums Plums contain 5–34 mg of anthocyanins.
Blueberries Blueberries contain 11–26 mg of anthocyanins.
Black beans Black beans contain 1–15 mg of anthocyanins.
Red currents  Red currants contain 2–11 mg of anthocyanins.
Red wine Red wine contains 4–10 mg of anthocyanins.
Red onions  Red onion contains 7 mg of anthocyanins.

Possible Health Benefits of Anthocyanins

Why you need to consume anthocyanins.

Here are some of the possible Health benefits of consuming anthocyanins.

  • Anthocyanins May Lower Blood Pressure.

According to a review done by 66 studies, anthocyanins may help in reducing blood pressure. The study participants diagnosed with hypertension took a variety of extracts and preparations from anthocyanin-containing plants and when the study was carried out, it was discovered that there was a consistent lowering effect on blood pressure. 

  • Anthocyanins May Prevent Neurological Diseases.

Neuroinflammation plays a very critical role in the development of many brain disorders and data gathered from in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that anthocyanins significantly reduce the chronic inflammatory state in such pathological conditions.

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Some research carried out have also shown that anthocyanins May help protect and improve the brain function.

In one study, they found out that a daily dose of cherry juice improved speech and memory in people aged 70 and over with mild or moderate dementia and in another study, anthocyanins were reported to increase blood flow and activate brain areas that control memory, language and attention.

  • Anthocyanins May Slow Cancer Growth.

Anthocyanins may act in many ways to slow or stop the growth of cancer. Some studies have shown that anthocyanins might do any of the following:

  1. Anthocyanins can block the changes in DNA that can cause cancer.
  2. They may destroy cancer cells or stop their growth.
  3. They may prevent tumors from becoming malignant (cancerous).
  4. They may reverse drug resistance and increase tumors’ sensitivity to chemotherapy.
  • Anthocyanins May Reduce Inflammation.

Anthocyanins are said to contain antimicrobial, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-mutagenic properties, which play a role on the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases such as metabolic disorders, cancer, eye diseases and cardiovascular diseases and a whole lot more!.

  • Anthocyanins May Improve Heart Health.

Anthocyanins contain protective oxidative stress properties which are used in cardiovascular disease prevention. They are believed to act on different cells associated with the development of atherosclerosis.

Atherosclerosis is defined as the buildup of cholesterol plaque in the walls of arteries, causing obstruction of blood flow.

Extraction Process Of Anthocyanins

Extraction is defined as the first step to separate desired natural products from the raw materials. There are so many types of extraction methods, among these extraction methods, the most applied techniques to extract anthocyanins are: 

  1. Ultrasound-Assisted Extraction (UAE)
  2. Microwave-Assisted Extraction (MAE)
  3. Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE)
  4. High-Pressure Liquid Extraction (HPLE)
  5. Pulsed Electric Fields (PEFE)
  6. High Voltage Electrical Discharge (HVED)
  7. Enzyme Assisted Extraction (EAE). 

Side Effects of Consuming Excessive Anthocyanin Supplements

Anthocyanin supplements are drugs made fr anthocyanins.

Foods rich in anthocyanin are generally considered safe. However, the same cannot be said about anthocyanin supplements as some of them can be very harmful to the body.

Anthocyanin supplements may provide a larger quantity of polyphenols than can be gotten from a healthy diet.

Animal studies indicate that a high dose of polyphenol supplements may damage the kidneys, cause tumors, or unbalance thyroid hormones.