Anthocyanins are a group of water-soluble pigments that color fruits and vegetables in bright colors (purple, red, yellow, blue). Natural dyes are concentrated in the generative organs of plants (pollen, flowers), vegetative parts (leaves, roots, shoots), fruits, seeds. Their amount in the product depends on the energy of photosynthesis and climate features.
To maintain health, an adult needs to take 15 milligrams of these substances per day, and 30 milligrams during the period of illness. The need for natural pigments increases with:
- genetic susceptibility to malignant neoplasms;
- living in regions with long summer;
- regular contact with ionizing radiation or high-frequency currents.
However, due to the high biological activity of pigments, it is advisable to increase the daily dosage of the substance only under medical supervision.
Anthocyanins do not accumulate in the body, are rapidly excreted, so you need to monitor the amount and regularity of their intake. By biological effects, they are similar to vitamin P: they have decongestant, bactericidal effects, strengthen the walls of capillaries, restore the outflow of intraocular fluid, improve the structure of connective tissue (fibers and cells).
The first experiments on the study of anthocyanins conducted English biochemist Robert Boyle in 1664 year. The scientist discovered that under the influence of alkali the blue color of the petals of the cornflower changed to green, and under the influence of the acid the flower turned red. Further study of the properties of pigments (the ability to change shade) led to a “breakthrough” in the field of biochemistry, since it helped scientists of the 17th century to identify chemical reagents.
An invaluable contribution to the study of anthocyanin compounds was made by Professor Richard Willstätter, who first isolated pigments from plants in pure form. To date, biochemists have extracted more than 70 natural dyes, the main precursors of which are the following aglycones: cyanidin, pelargonidin, delphinidin, malvidin, peonidin, petunidine. Interestingly, glycosides of the first type paint the plants in a purple – red color, the second – in a red – orange tone, the third – in a blue or blue tint.
The quantitative composition of anthocyanins in the product depends on the growing conditions and varietal characteristics of the plant (pH values in vacuoles, where pigment accumulates). At the same time, the same pigment, due to a change in the acidity of the cellular fluid, may acquire a different shade. When the dyes accumulate in an alkaline medium, the plant “gets” a yellow – green color, in neutral – purple, in acid – red.
What foods have anthocyanins?
Natural dyes are contained in plants and protect them from harmful radiation, accelerate the process of photosynthesis, converting light into energy.
The leaders in the number of such glycosides are dark – violet and burgundy berries: blueberries, blackberries, blueberries, black chokeberries, shadberries, elderberries, cranberries, black currants, cherries, raspberries, grapes (dark varieties). Anthocyanins are rich in eggplants, beets, tomatoes, red cabbage, red peppers, leafy lettuce. In addition, glycosides in small quantities are contained in the “light” plants: potatoes, peas, pears, bananas, apples.
Interestingly, low temperatures and intense illumination contribute to the accumulation of the natural “dye” in fruits. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the maximum concentrations of anthocyanins contain northern and alpine meadow plants.
Anthocyanins have a broad spectrum of biological activity.
In humans, the compounds exhibit the following properties:
Given that the anthocyanins in the body are not synthesized, for the prevention of functional disorders it is important to consume at least 15 milligrams of the compound per day. To do this, the diet is enriched with “colored” food.
Functions performed by anthocyanins:
- activate the metabolism at the cellular level;
- reduce capillary permeability;
- increase the elasticity of blood vessels (due to the inhibition of hyaluronidase activity);
- strengthen the retina;
- normalize intraocular pressure;
- potentiate collagen synthesis;
- stabilize cell membrane phospholipids;
- prevent sticking of cholesterol plaques on the walls of blood vessels;
- improve night vision (by regenerating rhodopsin);
- protect the heart muscle from ischemia (prevent the production of proteins that activate apoptosis of cardiomyocytes);
- reduce blood pressure (relax blood vessels);
- prevent the development of cataracts (due to the suppression of aldose-reductase activity in the lens);
- improve the condition of connective tissues;
- inhibit the growth of malignant neoplasms (stimulate apoptosis of cancer cells);
- increase the body’s antioxidant protection;
- prevent damage to the DNA structure;
- reduce the negative impact of radio emission and carcinogenic substances on the body;
- promote rapid recovery from respiratory diseases.
Indications for the use of natural pigments in increased amounts (up to 500 milligrams per day):
- coronary insufficiency;
- chronic inflammatory processes;
- prevention of cardiovascular pathologies;
- deterioration of vision;
- inflammation of the gums;
- flu, sore throat;
- focal alopecia;
- malignant neoplasms;
- diabetic retinopathy;
- prevention of osteoporosis;
- allergic reactions;
- degenerative diseases;
- blood vessel pathology;
- reduced eye fatigue;
- night blindness;
- diabetes (to improve blood circulation).
Interestingly, oligomeric proanthocyanides (procyanidins) are “stronger” than vitamin E in antioxidant properties 50 times, and ascorbic acid are times more 20 times.
Drugs with anthocyanins
The lack of glycosides in the human body causes nervous exhaustion, depression, fatigue, reduced immunity. To maintain health and improve well-being, nutritionists recommend including anthocyanins in the daily diet. Compounds protect the internal organs from the adverse effects of the environment, reduce psychological stress, have a positive effect on the body as a whole. Do not be afraid to get an overdose from glycosides, in medical practice there are no signs of excess compounds.
The variety of useful properties of anthocyanins determines their use in pharmacological preparations and biologically active complexes (BAA).
Let’s consider some of them:
- Anthocyan Forte (B – MIN +, Russia). The composition of the drug includes blueberry and blackcurrant glycosides, proanthocyanides of red grape seed, zinc, vitamins C, B2 and PP.
- “Blueberry Concentrate” (DHC, Japan). The main components of the supplement are blueberry extract, calendula (lutein), carotenoids, thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), cyanobalamin (B12).
- “UtraFix” (Santegra, USA). Bioadditive containing anthocyanins of hibiscus flowers.
- Zen Thonic (CaliVita, USA). The antioxidant complex includes: concentrates of mangosteen, red grapes, lingonberries, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, apples, cranberries, pears.
- Glazorol (Art – Life, Russia). This is a preparation based on the anthocyanins of chokeberry and calendula, carotenoids, amino acids and vitamins C, B3, B5, B2, B9, B12.
- Xantho PLUS (CaliVita, USA). The main components of the dietary supplement are mangosteen (tropical fruit), green tea extracts, grape seed, pomegranate fruits, blueberries, and blueberries.
- “Living Cell VII” (Siberian Health, Russia). The complex consists of two drugs: Antoftam and Carovizin (for the morning and evening reception). The first composition contains blueberry anthocyanins and spirullins, and the second one contains organic carotenoids, zeaxanthin, lutein, and rose hips pigments.
Drugs containing anthocyanins are contraindicated for people with hypersensitivity to these components. In addition, they are used with caution during pregnancy and lactation, only under the supervision of the attending physician.
Anthocyanins are a group of natural pigments that color fruits and vegetables in bright colors.
Compounds have a beneficial effect on the human body, because they exhibit antioxidant, bactericidal, anti-inflammatory, adaptogenic and antispasmodic properties. Natural sources of pigments: blueberry, elderberry, black currant, blackberry, blueberry, black chokeberry.
Natural dyes are used in the complex therapy of diabetes, seasonal infections (influenza, SARS), oncology, degenerative disorders, and ophthalmological pathologies (retinal dystrophy, myopia, diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, glaucoma). In addition, anthocyanins are used in the food industry (in the manufacture of confectionery, yogurt, beverages), cosmetology (like collagen), the electrical industry (for paint solar cells).