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What Are Anthocyanins? Why Do They Matter?

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AnthocyaninsAnthocyanins are important within the world of antioxidant fruits, but they don’t get much mention in our day-to-day lives. To understand what anthocyanins are, let’s simplify all of our terms.

  1. Antioxidants are molecules that either slow down or stop other molecules from going through oxidation. Why does this matter? Because an oxidation reaction can sometimes lead to the production of free radicals, which cause chain reactions. These chain reactions can lead to cell death.
  2. Flavonoids are a class of compounds found in plants that are in control of the plant’s pigments (i.e. the color of the flowers to attract pollination). These compounds have powerful antioxidant effects. They serve other purposes as well, but for the sake of this particular topic, we’ll save that for another day.
  3. Anthocyanins are pigments responsible for the blue, red, purple, and black found in some plants, which often have fruit with an astringent taste (e.g. aronia berries). Anthocyanins fall into the class of flavonoids.

Now you can see how these terms all relate to and build upon each other. Anthocyanins are beneficial to both plants and people. The dark color they produce in plants acts as a natural sunblock, enabling its survival in climates with heavy sun exposure. The aronia berry, acai berry, and raspberry contain high levels of anthocyanins; consider their coloring and benefits.

Anthocyanins have been shown to fight against a whole host of physical health problems, such as: prostate and colon cancers, bacterial infections, inflammation, neurological diseases (due to their neuroprotective qualities), diabetes, and obesity. They can also help with emotional problems like depression and anxiety.

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