anthocyanins-healthAnthocyanins are a plant pigment that gives fruits, leaves, and plants a red, blue, or purple color. They are found in almost all types of berries (blueberry, cranberry, cherries) and over 500 types of anthocyanins have been identified today. You can find anthocyanins from vegetables like eggplant and olive. What is so special about anthocyanins, however, lies in the numerous health benefits they provide.

For starters, anthocyanins contain antioxidant properties and have been showing promise in the treatment and management of conditions such as cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and inflammatory disorders (like arthritis and gout). Anthocyanins have a wide range of biological properties as an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, neuroprotective, and helps increase intercellular levels of vitamin C. We’ll tell you why taking anthocyanins may be the answer in treating and managing conditions like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease. 

In 2013, researchers conducted a study where participants with osteoarthritis consumed 16oz of tart cherry juice (which is FULL of anthocyanins) daily, found a significant improvement in pain, stiffness, and physical function. They also discovered that participants showed a significant decrease in something called “high-sensitivity C-reactive protein” (CRP). CRP is how we can measure the amount of inflammation in an individual’s body. Anthocyanins also inhibit nuclear factor-kB activation, (say that three times fast). This helps to reduce linked to pro-inflammatory intermediaries that may be linked to degenerative diseases such as arthritis.

Anthocyanins and other flavonoid compounds are also useful in fighting heart disease. Another study (also in 2013) demonstrated that regularly consuming anthocyanins significantly lowers your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Research shows that anthocyanins help lower blood glucose by improving insulin resistance. They also protect beta-cells, increase secretion of insulin, and reduce digestion of certain sugars in the small intestines. Another long-term study which analyzed the diet and lifestyle of 200,000 adults, discovered that people who consumed the most anthocyanins were 15% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and those who ate the most blueberries (a berry high in anthocyanins) were 23% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes. Anthocyanins also contain high antioxidant properties, which help fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are known to change or damage cell structure, which can often lead to some form of cancer.

So which berries should you eat to get your daily dose of anthocyanins? Chokeberries (also known as Aronia) seem to have the highest concentrations of anthocyanins (around 1,480mg for every 100g of chokeberries).  Other berries with high counts of anthocyanins are black raspberries (589 mg/100g), acai berries (320 mg/100g), blueberries (558 mg/100g), and the cherry (350-400 mg/100g).

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