The Anthocyanins Explained

The Anthocyanins Explained

WHAT ARE THE ANTHOCYANINS?

The anthocyanins are a group of health boosting nutrients that are mainly found in berries.  They are part of the flavonoid sub-class of phytonutrients (a group of chemical compounds which occur naturally in plants and have numerous health benefits but are not considered essential nutrients).

The anthocyanins and the other flavonoids were discovered and isolated by the Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgi in 1938.  At first he named the flavonoids vitamin P but it was later discovered that they are not essential to human health and therefore not technically vitamins.

Whilst the anthocyanins are not believed to be essential in humans it is still a good choice to make them part of your diet.  They all act as powerful antioxidants and protect your body’s cells from damaging free radicals (harmful by-products of oxygen related reactions).  The anthocyanins also help fight various diseases and support many vital functions within your body.

In this article I will be discussing 6 of the main athocyanins in greater details:

1) CYANIDIN

A collection of elderberries on a green leaf.Functions:- Cyanidin is a powerful anti-inflammatory (a substance which prevents unnecessary inflammation within the body), antioxidant (a substance which protects your body’s cells from the damaging free radicals that are released during oxygen related reactions) and antitoxic (a substance which fights harmful toxins within the body).  It has also been shown to prevent atherosclerosis (a condition where hard plaques form in the artery walls and restrict the flow of blood throughout the body which ultimately increases your heart disease risk), prevent various types of cancer (including colon cancer, leukaemia, lung cancer, prostate cancer and skin cancer) and prevent heart disease.  Additionally, cyanidin can treat type 2 diabetes by reducing blood glucose levels and increasing insulin sensitivity.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA):- There is currently no RDA for cyanidin.

Food Sources:- Berries are often the best source of cyanidin with bilberries (112.59 milligrams (mg) per 100 grams (g)), blackberries (90.31mg per 100g), black raspberries (323.47mg per 100g), blueberries (16.97mg per 100g), chokeberries (435.78mg per 100g), cranberries (41.81mg per 100g), elderberries (758.48mg per 100g), lingonberries (44.21mg per 100g), red raspberries (35.84mg per 100g) all being excellent cyanidin foods.  Other fruits and vegetables also contain good levels of this anthocyanin with blackcurrants (85.63mg per 100g), cowpeas (94.72mg per 100g), red cabbage (72.86mg per 100g) and sweet cherries (75.18mg per 100g) being very rich sources.

Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with cyanidin consumption.

Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with cyanidin consumption.

2) DELPHINIDIN

3 blackberries on a white background.Functions:- Delphinidin is a powerful antioxidant within the human body.  Early research suggests that this anthocyanin may also act as an anti-inflammatory, prevent atherosclerosis, prevent and treat various types of cancer, prevent heart disease and protect the skin’s cells from ultraviolet (UV) damage.  However, further evidence is required before these health benefits are confirmed.

RDA:- There is currently no RDA for delphinidin.

Food Sources:- Blackcurrants (181.11mg per 100g), bilberries (161.93mg per 100g), blueberries (47.4mg per 100g) and cowpeas (94.6mg per 100g) are all excellent sources of delphinidin.  Bananas (7.93mg per 100g), black beans (11.98mg per 100g), cranberries (7.66mg per 100g) and eggplant (13.76mg per 100g) are also good sources of this anthocyanin.

Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with delphinidin consumption.

Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with delphinidin consumption.

3) MALVIDIN

A bunch of red grapes, a glass of red wine and a bottle of red wine.Functions:- Malvidin is a powerful antioxidant.  It may also protect the muscles from damage during exercise and treat cancer but more research is needed to confirm these health benefits.

RDA:- There is currently no RDA for malvidin.

Food Sources:- Bilberries (54.37mg per 100g) and blueberries (61.35mg per 100g) are by far the richest source of malvidin.  Cowpeas (34.28mg per 100g) and red grapes (34.71mg per 100g) are also good malvidin foods.

Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with malvidin consumption.

Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with malvidin consumption.

4) PELARGONIDIN

A selection of raspberries.Functions:- Pelargonidin is a potent antioxidant which may also prevent cancer, prevent heart disease, prevent neurodegenerative disorders (such as Parkinson’s disease) and treat diabetes (by reducing blood glucose levels and enhancing the action of insulin).  However, more research is required before these health benefits can be confirmed.

RDA:- There is currently no RDA for pelargonidin.

Food Sources:- Radishes (25.66mg per 100g) and strawberries (31.27mg per 100g) are 2 of the best pelargonidin foods.  Some other good sources of this anthocyanin are chokeberries (1.44mg per 100g), kidney beans (2.42mg per 100g) and raspberries (1.85mg per 100g).

Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with pelargonidin consumption.

Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with pelargonidin consumption.

5) PEONIDIN

A selection of cranberries.Functions:- Peonidin is a powerful antioxidant which may also act as an anti-inflammatory and prevent cancer.  However, further research is needed before these health benefits are confirmed.

RDA:- There is currently no RDA for peonidin.

Food Sources:- Berries are an excellent source of peonidin with bilberries (51.01mg per 100g), blueberries (23.49mg per 100g) and cranberries (42.1mg per 100g) all containing very high levels.  Cherries (4.47mg per 100g), cowpeas (11.07mg per 100g) and purple plums (5.21mg per 100g) are also very good choices for getting this anthocyanin.

Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with peonidin consumption.

Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with peonidin consumption.

6) PETUNIDIN

A close up view of 3 blueberries.Functions:- Petunidin is a potent antioxidant.  Since berries are an extremely rich source of this anthocyanin, petunidin may also be responsible for the health benefits linked with eating berries such as preventing cancer, preventing diabetes and reducing your heart disease risk.  However, no research has been performed to validate this.

RDA:- There is currently no RDA for petunidin.

Food Sources:- Bilberries (51.01mg per 100g), blueberries (26.42mg per 100g) and cowpeas (27.82mg per 100g) are all excellent sources of petunidin.  Other fruits and vegetables including black beans (9.57mg per 100g), blackcurrants (3.87mg per 100g) and red grapes (2.11mg per 100g) also contain good levels of this anthocyanin.

Overdose Symptoms:- There are no reported overdose symptoms associated with petunidin consumption.

Deficiency Symptoms:- There are no reported deficiency symptoms associated with petunidin consumption.

ANTHOCYANINS SUMMARY

Although the anthocyanins are not considered essential to human health, there are still plenty of reasons to make them part of your diet.  The anthocyanins listed above can fight cancer, reduce your heart disease risk, treat diabetes and much more.  By eating the foods listed above on a regular basis you can keep your body topped up with anthocyanins and enjoy all the health benefits listed in this article.  Berries in particular are available all year round and can be eaten on their own as a tasty snack, eaten with yogurt as a healthy dessert or mixed with other fruits to create a tasty, nutritious fruit salad.

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