Anthocyanins: They are good for everything not just your heart

Anthocyanins are type of pigments that belong to the family of flavonoids. They are found in fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs. However, dark colored berries are the best food source.

Frequent consumption of anthocyanin rich berries has shown to reduce the risk of age related diseases, including heart disease.

These compounds are strong antioxidants which can protect the heart muscle and blood vessels from oxidative damage. However, they may also help rejuvenate the cardiovascular system and help repair the damaged tissue.


The best food sources of anthocyanins are berries such as:

  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Cranberry
  • Strawberry
  • Elderberry
  • Bilberry
  • Acai and Goji berry
  • Gooseberries
  • Chokeberry
  • Raspberry and other berries
  • However other foods also good source:

  • Cherries
  • Red grapes
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruit
  • Eggplant
  • Olives
  • Red Vegetables (Red potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and red onions)
  • Tomatoes and Blue Corn
  • Carrots
  • Red apples
  • Pomegranates
  • Black rice and black beans
  • Usually, the darker and more unusual the color of the plant, more anthocyanins it contains. It is worth mentioning that these compounds are even more effective, when combined with carotenoids and chlorophyll rich plants.


    Besides their cardio protective characteristics, they may improve blood lipids as well as slow down build up of atherosclerotic plaque or even reduce it.

    There are many foods which can reduce LDL cholesterol but there aren't that many food that can increase HDL cholesterol. However, anthocyanin rich berries can do both.

    While being antioxidants by themself, they may also increase the amount of natural antioxidants in our body such as glutathione and reduce the risk of autoimmune heart diseases such as rheumatic fever.

    They promote healthy immune system reaction, thanks to their strong anti-inflammatory properties, by increasing cytokine production where its needed, while inhibiting several key enzymes and protecting the DNA.


    Thanks to their positive effect on DNA, anthocyanins can prevent and even reverse gene damage, while activating the good genes.

    Flavonoids in berries have shown to be effective in preventing the spread of cancer cells and reducing tumor size, by killing 20 percent of the malignant cells. They do this, by inducing apoptosis and inhibiting angiogenesis which causes the tumor cells to starve to death.

    However, combining several healthy foods together would probably give even better results and stronger effect.

    Although there are several types of flavonoids found in berries, it seems that mainly anthocyanins are responsible for these benefits. They seem to work, by suppressing the activity of a protein needed for the disease to progress.

    Anthocyanin rich berries are shown to be very useful in treating digestive cancers such as colon cancer. However, they may be useful in treating other cancers too, including breast, prostate and brain cancer.


    Bilberry is very popular herb used for keeping and improving eyesight,  primarily thanks to flavonoids such as anthocyanin. Since they are also a type of pigments, they work great with carotenoids in keeping healthy vision and avoiding age related eye diseases.

    It seems that they can pass the blood-brain barrier and enter the retina in a similar way as some carotenoids can.

    When they reach the eye, they prevent oxidative damage by neutralizing free radicals, while  increasing the production of retinal pigments, repairing the damage to the eye and protecting against UV light.


    By reducing the risk of diabetes and lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic people, the risk of heart disease also goes down. High blood sugar can damage the tissue, including pancreas, kidneys, blood vessels and heart muscle.

    However, berries and its flavonoids help clear out excess glucose from the bloodstream thereby lowering high blood sugar levels. They may also improve insulin sensitivity, reduce insulin resistance and prevent damage to microcapillaries, associated with diabetes.


    If you can, get the flavonoids from the berries. Don't try to obtain them from processed berry products such as marmalade or jam, since they contain too much sugar.

    If you choose to get anthocyanins from supplements too, as myself, rather choose the product which contains mix of fruits, berries, vegetables and superfoods.

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