Anthocyanins are a group of red and blue pigments extracted from plants, with an antioxidant and anti-aging action, useful as a prevention of many degenerative diseases. Let’s find out better.
What are Anthocyanins
Anthocyanins (also known as anthocyanins in red wine) are a large and varied group of water-soluble molecules belonging to the flavonoid family.
They are pigments that vary from red to brown to blue depending on the pH of the environment in which they are found. They are present in most of the higher plants, where they carry out the fundamental task of attracting pollinators and animals responsible for dispersing the fruits and therefore the seeds. From a chemical point of view, anthocyanins are glucosides, whose aglycones (the sugar-free molecule), called anthocyanidins, have a structure similar to the yellow vegetable pigments, flavonols.
The color they give to the plant depends on the pH of the environment in which they are found. Example of the economy of nature: the same pigment can take on different colors in the same plant cell depending on the acidity of the cellular juices that contain it.
Man exploits the properties of anthocyanins for their antioxidant and therefore anti-aging and prevention of many degenerative diseases.
Where are anthocyanins found
Anthocyanins are found in the flowers and fruits of many higher plants. They give color to the flowers of mallow and petunias, as well as to fruit, grapes, blueberries, strawberries, and to vegetables, red cabbage and red onion. The color of beetroot and bougainvillea are, on the other hand, given by other compounds, the betacyanins.
Various anthocyanidins can be obtained by enzymatic hydrolysis of the glycosides of the anthocyanins. Cyanidin forms the pigment of red roses, red grapes, blueberry fruits; delphinidin forms the purple pigment in Viola tricolor L.
Properties of anthocyanins
The beneficial properties of anthocyanins have been known for centuries. Man’s diet has always been rich in foods in which these molecules were concentrated; herbal remedies based on extracts containing anthocyanins have been present in Chinese, Indian and European medicine for centuries.
In traditional medicine, anthocyanins were and still are used to treat fever, liver disorders, arterial hypertension, dysentery, diarrhea, infections, colds.
They seem to be useful for improving visual function; their positive role has been demonstrated in reducing capillary permeability and fragility to the advantage of blood circulation; they also act in preventing the formation of atherosclerotic plaques due to high cholesterol levels and in reducing platelet aggregation.
The antioxidant properties of this molecule have been demonstrated and in reducing damage to DNA, a capacity that inserts them into the field of molecules useful for preventing cancer and for antiaging action. Furthermore, they can stimulate the production of cytokines and therefore the immune response.
As for flavonoids, of which they represent a subgroup, the antioxidant action and therefore their role in the prevention of degenerative diseases, is given by the ability to disperse the excess energy of free radicals on their molecule, preventing them from causing damage to structures. mobile phones. Since a stressed life, an unbalanced diet, smoking, alcohol and pollution are the main causes of free radical formation, every individual should increase the daily dose of fruits and vegetables rich in anthocyanins.
Lastly, recent studies have shown how this antioxidant action plays a role in reducing the accumulation of saturated fatty acids in the tissues located in the belly and hips. By preventing the formation of saturated fatty acids, anthocyanins can be useful in the treatment of overweight and obesity.
Anthocyanins have no contraindications. Eating fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants is essential for our health.