Back to top
  • Open Daily at 10am
  • Call Ahead for Curbside Pickup
  • 443-438-3659

What Are Anthocyanins?

Exploring the Potential of Anthocyanins

Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments found in a variety of edible plants and even in some types of cannabis. With over 635 identified in nature, these molecules are a key element in the plant world. Not only do anthocyanins create brilliant colors in fruits, vegetables, and herbs, but they also offer significant therapeutic potential.

Colour and Presence

Anthocyanins are responsible for the vibrant red, purple, and blue hues seen in many plant species. From leaves to fruits to cannabis flowers, these pigments create visually striking colors that attract animals to disperse seeds and aid in germination success. Some plants high in anthocyanins include black raspberries, blueberries, red cabbage, and red radishes, among others.

Supporting Research

Recent research indicates that anthocyanins possess various health benefits. They exhibit antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticarcinogenic properties, and may help prevent cardiovascular disease and control obesity. Studies have shown that anthocyanins can protect against oxidative stress, reduce inflammation, inhibit cancer cell growth, and prevent the buildup of plaque in arteries. Moreover, these pigments have shown promise in controlling body weight and fat mass in mice.

Anthocyanins have undergone rigorous testing, including preclinical and human clinical trials. Various studies have demonstrated their antioxidative effects on cells, animals, and even human red blood cells. Moreover, the compounds have displayed anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting specific enzymatic activity related to inflammation. Anthocyanins have also shown potential against cancer cells, promoting their apoptosis without harming normal cells.

Furthermore, research suggests that anthocyanins could play a crucial role in preventing cardiovascular diseases by boosting serum antioxidant levels and protecting against atherosclerosis. The compounds may also help in addressing obesity by decreasing body weight gain and adipose mass.

Safety and Side Effects

Anthocyanins are generally safe for consumption, with no adverse effects reported from consuming anthocyanin-rich foods. Their low toxicity levels allow companies to use them as natural food colorings. While the effects of overconsumption are not well understood, it is believed that high levels may be required to experience side effects.

In conclusion, anthocyanins are not just colorful pigments but essential compounds with potent health benefits. From their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to their anticarcinogenic properties, these water-soluble pigments offer a promising avenue for disease prevention and management.


[1] Tsuda, T., Watanabe, M., Ohshima, K., Norinobu, S., Choi, S. W., Kawakishi, S., & Osawa, T. (1994). Antioxidative Activity of the Anthocyanin Pigments Cyanidin 3-O-.beta.-D-Glucoside and Cyanidin. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 42(11), 2407–2410. [Source]

[2] Tedesco, I., Luigi Russo, G., Nazzaro, F., Russo, M., & Palumbo, R. (2001). Antioxidant effect of red wine anthocyanins in normal and catalase-inactive human erythrocytes. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, 12(9), 505–511. [Source]

[3] Ramirez-Tortosa, C., Andersen, Y. M., Gardner, P. T., Morrice, P. C., Wood, S. G., Duthie, S. J., Collins, A. R., & Duthie, G. G. (2001). Anthocyanin-rich extract decreases indices of lipid peroxidation and DNA damage in vitamin E-depleted rats. Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 31(9), 1033–1037. [Source]

[4] SEERAM, N. (2001). Cyclooxygenase inhibitory and antioxidant cyanidin glycosides in cherries and berries. Phytomedicine, 8(5), 362–369. [Source]

[5] He, J., & Giusti, M. M. (2010). Anthocyanins: Natural Colorants with Health-Promoting Properties. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 1(1), 163–187. [Source]

[6] Lin, B., Gong, C., & Song, H. (2017). Effects of anthocyanins on the prevention and treatment of cancer. NCBI. Published. [Source]

[7] Malik, M., Zhao, C., Schoene, N., Guisti, M. M., Moyer, M. P., & Magnuson, B. A. (2003). Anthocyanin-Rich Extract From Aronia meloncarpa E. Induces a Cell Cycle Block in Colon Cancer but Not Normal Colonic Cells. Nutrition and Cancer, 46(2), 186–196. [Source]

[8] Kausar, H., Jeyabalan, J., Aqil, F., Chabba, D., Sidana, J., Singh, I. P., & Gupta, R. C. (2012). Berry anthocyanidins synergistically suppress growth and invasive potential of human non-small-cell lung cancer cells. Cancer Letters, 325(1), 54–62. [Source]

[9] Lazze, M. C. (2004). Anthocyanins induce cell cycle perturbations and apoptosis in different human cell lines. Carcinogenesis, 25(8), 1427–1433. [Source]

[10] Prior, R. L., Wu, X., Gu, L., Hager, T. J., Hager, A., & Howard, L. R. (2008). Whole Berries versus Berry Anthocyanins: Interactions with Dietary Fat Levels in the C57BL/6J Mouse Model of Obesity. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(3), 647–653. [Source]

[11] Azzini, E., Giacometti, J., & Russo, G. L. (2017). Antiobesity Effects of Anthocyanins in Preclinical and Clinical Studies. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2017, 1–11. [Source]

[12] Khoo, H. E., Azlan, A., & Tang, S. T. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. NCBI. Published. [Source]

[13] Burton-Freeman, B., Sandhu, A., & Edirisinghe, I. (2016). Anthocyanins. Nutraceuticals, 489–500. [Source]