Thursday, August 25, 2011

All About Anthocyanins: What they are, why they are good for you, and how to incorporate them into your diet

We’ve all seen ‘buzz’ about antioxidants in the media. Whether it’s for cancer prevention, free-radical wrinkle fighting, heart health or anti-aging, antioxidants have been deemed necessary for optimum health and wellness. How come? Antioxidants prevent oxidation of cells, which means they fight abnormal cell growth and changes, often related to cancer and illness, which is why they have become known as great cancer fighters. While these miracle compounds have been talked about a great deal, what we haven’t really heard is that there are thousands of different types of antioxidants found naturally in the foods we eat. One type in particular that has proven to be specially beneficial is the anthocyanin, which has a laundry list of health benefits all its own. Why? Let’s find out.  

From a biochemistry standpoint, anthocyanins are any of a class of water-soluble pigments that give flowers the colors ranging from red to blue. When it comes to food, these pigments are reflected in dark red, blue and purple colors found mostly in berries, cherries, plums and grapes. A flavonoid, or compound of nutrients found in food that have been shown to be beneficial for health, anthocyanins have been shown to offer protection to body systems through inflammation fighting properties, prevention of tissue oxidation, decreasing of ‘bad’ ldl cholesterol, diabetes treatment and improvement in eyesight.

Because of the ability of anthocyanins to combat so many health ailments and everyday occurrences, incorporating these antioxidant rockstars into the diet is essential for wellbeing and longevity. In addition, anthocyanins have been dubbed ‘the color of youth,’ offering beauty boosting benefits, including reduced skin inflammation and stabilization of collagen. Anthocyanins have also been shown to alleviate symptoms of photoaging caused by the sun’s UV rays, providing a more youthful glow to the skin.

Fortunate for us, the super antioxidant anthocyanins are not hard to come by. Found in foods that have a dark red, purple or blue pigment, anthocyanins can be incorporated into any diet. Cherries contain some of the highest amounts of anthocyanins compared to some other foods, and are a delicious way to get your daily dose of anthocyanins. Tart cherry juice is another way to consume your anthocyanins, as well as offer many other health benefits.

As the saying goes, you truly “Are what you eat” when it comes to anthocyanins. Eat up, and your body (and skin) will thank you!


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