In this era where most people are extremely busy, they usually do not have the time to look for healthier lifestyle choices. With the increased consumption of fatty food incorporated with a lack of physical activity, many compromise their health.
These lifestyle choices go a long way and impact not just the body's major organs but sometimes can also be a result of a fatal life event. It has been seen that some of the diseases that occurred in old age are now affecting young adults as well. This is all due to unhealthy lifestyle choices, weakening the immune system, and inviting many different diseases.
It is very important that these individuals can try to inculcate healthy activities in their life and consume anything that improves their overall health. A healthy body is equivalent to a healthy mind, and it is very important to take care of your body to live life to its fullest.
Nature has always been man's best friend, and this holds even in this age of time. There have been many medicines that have been derived from plants, and they continuously prove to help with many of the diseases that are occurring inside the human body. So is the case with one such compound that occurs in a majority number of plants; anthocyanin.
Anthocyanin is a type of flavonoid (the compound responsible for imparting color in fruits and vegetables). It was always considered a great coloring agent in the food industry, but later research on this compound has helped understand the many wondrous benefits offered by this one compound.
One of the most prominent effects of anthocyanins in the human body is eliminating toxic free radicals. The reduction in the amount of these damaging ions from the body can prevent the destruction of the cells and give the body the time to repair the damage caused by these toxins.
Structure and Types
Anthocyanin belongs to the class of phenolic phytochemicals. It is one of the pigments responsible for imparting colors to the many vegetables, fruits, and plants. It is in the form of a glycoside. They are grouped into two main categories; acylated anthocyanins and anthocyanidin glycoside.
Anthocyanin is a derived form of flavonols, and its conjugated bonds result in red, blue, and purple-colored plants.
Natural sources of Anthocyanin
Anthocyanin is a compound that exists in several forms. It is very abundantly present in the many fruits, seeds, and flowers. This compound is what gives the bright colors, helping them pollinate. It also protects these plants against UV radiation. Many kinds of cereal are rich in anthocyanin.
Some of the sources of anthocyanin-rich plants are mentioned below;
- Leaves of Chica
- Scales of Red Onion
- Flowers of Peruvian Lily
- Seeds of Black Currant
- Purple Cauliflower and Red Cabbage
- Flowers of Spanish Marigold
- Pulses such as Red lentils and beans
- Leaves of White Water lily
- Leaves and stems of Thale Cress
- Wild berries
- Flowers of Asian Pigeonwings
- Flowers of Blue Poppy
- Purple Broccoli
- Flowers as well as leaves of Tea tree
- Flowers of Ginger leaf
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grains of Winter blue barley
Benefits of using Anthocyanin
A lot of research has been done on anthocyanins in the past decade. Many reviews have vouched for the excellent efficacy, bioavailability, and absorption of this compound. This dietary fiber has long been used in Chinese and Indian Medicine. Fruits, seeds, leaves, and roots that are rich in anthocyanin have been used to treat many different conditions, including; fever, hypertension, diarrhea, dysentery (blood in feces), and urinary tract infections.
Anthocyanins have greatly been linked to providing anti-cancer effects in the body. A big explanation owes to its great antioxidant activity. There have been many anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables that have been studied to decrease the initiation and progression of many cancers.
This compound works by protecting the cell's DNA from injury. This is done through its property of neutralizing hazardous free radical species, such as hydrogen peroxide, superoxide, and hydroxyl ions. This gene protective mechanism is what mainly helps prevent the many cancers in the body.
These compounds also work by inhibiting lipid peroxidation. Anthocyanins have been beneficial in inhibiting the promotion of blood cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer, some types of skin cancer, prostate cancer, as well as intestinal cancer. Certain plants have protective properties against a specific kind of cancer. For instance, anthocyanins present in blackberry have been seen to have chemoprotective activity in colon cancer, breast cancer, leukemia, and lung cancer.
A tropical plant called Pourouma cecropiifolia has fruits that are rich in anthocyanin have shown great improvements in inhibiting cancer cells, promoting breast and laryngeal cancer.
On the other hand, the blueberry extract was greatly seen to improve the prognosis of patients with melanoma and colon cancer. It promotes the apoptosis of these cancer cells (experimented on mouse models).
As more research is underway, many molecular mechanisms are being investigated in the anti-cancer activity of anthocyanins through their signaling pathways that suppress tumor growth.
Prevention against liver injury
The liver is responsible for many metabolic processes that happen in the body. When the liver undergoes injury, it usually regenerates on its own. However, if the extent of injury surpasses the ability of the liver to rectify the damage, many processes of the body come to a stop. Therefore, it is very important to have a healthy functioning liver. Anthocyanins have been studied to help the liver recover steadily and slowly from some diseases, such as NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease).
A clinical trial was conducted in 2015, published in the Journal of Medicine (Baltimore), to study the effects of anthocyanin on patients with NAFLD.
Seventy-four individuals were part of this study on whom a double-blind, randomized control trial was conducted. These individuals were randomly grouped into two, with one group receiving the anthocyanin supplement extract, whereas the other received a placebo. All biomarkers related to NAFLD were noted before the start of this trial.
It was seen that after 12 weeks of consuming purified anthocyanin, there were improvements in insulin resistance (one of the major markers of liver injury and damage). The clinical picture of these patients also improved with better liver markers than the placebo group.
Anti-inflammatory effects in the body
Many destructive processes are happening inside the body resulting in significant damage. Inflammation is one such process that not just causes destruction but also takes a while to settle. Therefore, the body must get rid of these inflammatory processes to preserve the healthy cells from damage.
One such activity of anthocyanins is to protect the body against such processes indeed. There are many diseases such as Peyronies disease, colitis, laryngeal reflux disease, and periodontal disease that cause many inflammatory cells to emerge and cause destruction. It has been seen that anthocyanins have positively worked in walling off the damage and the effects of these inflammatory processes.
This works by blocking the key inflammatory cytokines, lipid mediators, enzymes, and vasoactive mediators.
Cycloxygenase (COX-2) and Prostaglandins (PG E2) are markedly suppressed by anthocyanin extract, limiting edema formation. It also works by suppressing Nitric Oxide (NO) production, which also progresses many inflammatory diseases.
The brain controls all the activities happening in the body. A simple act of breathing is also controlled and regulated by the higher centers. Therefore, it is very important to protect it from any injury or damage. Most of the damage that happens in the brain due to any event usually causing irreversible damage, and a severe decline in performance is observed in such individuals.
Many scientific and epidemiological studies have shown that anthocyanin supplement has greatly improved neuronal function. Improved cognitive, motor and memory functions have given considerable hope to help protect the brain from many neurodegenerative diseases.
Diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's are some of the most common neurodegenerative disorders that are not completely treated. Many medicines have been used to slow the progression of the disease, but none have shown conclusive evidence of repairing the damaged neuronal cells.
Parkinson's disease involves dopaminergic pathways. The destruction of these pathways results in loss of control of the many motor functions. Anthocyanin-rich extracts present in the seed of grapes, Chinese Mulberry, Blueberries have significantly inhibited the loss of these dopaminergic cells.
It has also been seen that improper functioning of mitochondrial enzymes is also one of the leading factors resulting in Parkinson's disease; the compounds of anthocyanin also limit this dysfunction.
Prevention of Cardiovascular disease
The incidence of cardiovascular diseases is increasing at an alarming rate. It is one of the most common causes of death in the middle and old-aged population. Therefore, it is very important to opt for healthy options for your heart to prevent any such event.
Usually, the detrimental health choices for an extended period affect the heart; these cause several problems that significantly impact the heart's health. This includes high blood pressure, high levels of LDL in the blood, and high blood glucose levels.
However, it has been seen that the use of anthocyanin extracts has been very effective in decreasing the risk of the development of any cardiovascular disease. This owes to the cardioprotective properties offered by this compound.
One of the biggest precipitating factors responsible for myocardial infarction is atherosclerosis. The narrowing of the blood vessels due to the deposition of lipids significantly impacts the blood's travel. This makes it difficult for the heart to pump blood, making it exert more force. These lipids that mainly come from the liver are what promote the process of atherosclerosis. It has been noted through many epidemiological studies that the extract of anthocyanin helps lower lipid-cholesterol levels. With this extract aiding in lowering the total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, it significantly decreases the risk of getting a myocardial infarction.
Studies also showed evidence of anthocyanin extracts working by expressing genes responsible for promoting cholesterol elimination and excretion. This helps prevent the formation of cholesterol plaques in the vessels. It also significantly helps many organs for the damage apart from the heart.
A study conducted in 2013, which was conducted on middle-aged women who consumed a good amount of anthocyanin was studied. The results of this study showed a 32% reduction in the risk of myocardial infarction.
Another survey, including almost 34,000 women, showed a decrease in mortality due to cardiovascular events. These women had an intake of anthocyanin-rich strawberries in their daily life.
Management of diabetes
The global prevalence of diabetes has significantly increased over the years. The potential effects of high blood glucose levels have damaged many vessels, leading to stroke, cardiovascular disease, neuropathy, and kidney damage.
The primary defect in this disease is the low levels of insulin being produced by the beta cells of the pancreas. Damage to these cells results in decreased sensitivity and increased resistance to insulin, which ultimately increases glucose levels in the blood.beh
The effects of anthocyanin have been studied and shown to improve insulin resistance in many people with type-2 diabetes. Bilberry-containing anthocyanin has shown evidence of improving insulin sensitivity and controlling the rising glucose concentration in the blood. It also works by inhibiting the AMPK (adenosine monophosphate-activated protein kinase) activity, which otherwise leads to diabetic nephropathy.
The regular use of anthocyanin-rich supplements improves the immune status of a person and helps get rid of the many free radicals in the body. Its antioxidant effect is known to prevent damage and save from the many diseases that are common to man.