Anthocyanin Antioxidants Just The Faqs

We’ve been reading a lot in magazines and newspapers about antioxidant plant foods, including berries like blueberries and cranberries, and we keep seeing the word anthocyanins.Anthocyanins (Etymology: Greek. anthos = Flower, kyneos = purple) are water-soluble pigments reflecting the red to blue range of the visible spectrum. The colour depends on the acidity of the surrounding medium.How are anthocyanins synthesized in the plant?The parent material of anthocyanins is a group of similar structures named anthocyanidins or proanthocyanidins which contain no sugar molecules. When sugars become attached, an anthocyanin glycoside is formed, taking the characteristic shape of anthocyanins.The large class of antioxidant cyanidins is also anthocyanins all these compounds belong to the group of compounds called flavonoids within the super-family of antioxidants named phenolics or polyphenols.Anthocyanins exist mainly to preserve the regeneration of the plant. In flowers, the colorful anthocyanins of petals attract pollinators whereas in fruits, like brightly colored berries, they reside in the skin to attract animals that eat the fruit and later disperse the seeds in their droppings. This is nature’s efficient way of symbiosis between a plant and feeding animal.This “sunscreen” function is thought to be the reason why many deciduous plants turn red in autumn. When green chlorophylls break down, and as leaves begin to dehydrate and die, anthocyanins shield the remaining leaf tissues while the plant moves nutrients back into the stems and vascular system of the tree.In berry research particularly, anthocyanins have been shown to possess strong antioxidant qualities that guard cells of the fruit pulp and seeds from reactive oxygen species (free radicals) formed during normal plant metabolism and exposure to ultraviolet light.Among plant foods providing the richest sources of anthocyanins are blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, red currants and cherries (up to 400 mg in every 100 gram serving) and Concord grapes (as high as 750 mg/100 grams). Two of the richest sources of anthocyanins in berries are in the black raspberry and tropical palmberry (or acai).Non-berry plant foods rich in anthocyanins include brightly colored (bluish) vegetables like the purple cabbage and eggplant. White plant foods like banana, pear and potato do not contain significant levels of anthocyanins.Medical research has been examining potential health or anti-disease benefits of having anthocyanin-enriched plant foods like berries included in the regular human diet. Cancer
Diabetes
Inflammation
Heart and vascular disease
Alzheimers disease
Other types of neurodegeneration
High blood cholesterol
Stroke
Bacterial infections
Urinary tract infections
Age-related eyesight deterioration
Premature agingWikipedia, free encyclopedia, http://www.wikipedia.comShahidi F, Naczk M. Phenolics in Food and Nutraceuticals, CRC Press, Boca Raton, 2003.