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Anthocyanin

  • In a new 2017 study by the University of Exeter, healthy people who consumed concentrated blueberry every day for 12 weeks showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain, and activation of the brain while carrying out cognitive tests. 
  • There was also evidence suggesting improvement in working memory. 
  • Research suggests that a large part of the cognitive protection that certain berries provide is due to nerve cell protection from oxidative damage. 

Anthocyanin Sources

Plants rich in anthocyanins are Vaccinium species, such as blueberry, cranberry, and bilberry; Rubus berries, including black raspberry, red raspberry, and blackberry; blackcurrant, cherry, eggplant (aubergine) peel, black rice, Concord grape, muscadine grape, red cabbage, and violet petals. The reds, purples, and their blended combinations responsible for autumn foliage are derived from anthocyanins.

Chemistry

Anthocyanins are water-soluble glycosides of polyhydroxyl and polymethoxyl derivatives of 2-phenylbenzopyrylium or flavylium salts. Individual anthocyanins differ in the number of hydroxyl groups present in the molecule; the degree of methylation of these hydroxyl groups; the nature, number and location of sugars attached to the molecule; and the number and the nature of aliphatic or aromatic acids attached to the sugars in the molecule.[1],[2],[3] Hundreds of anthocyanins have been isolated and chemically characterised by spectrometric tools; cyanidins and their derivatives are the most common anthocyanins present in vegetables, fruits and flowers.[4]

Demonstrated Effects

In a new 2017 study by the University of Exeter, healthy people who consumed concentrated blueberry every day for 12 weeks showed improvements in cognitive function, blood flow to the brain, and activation of the brain while carrying out cognitive tests. There was also evidence suggesting improvement in working memory. Research suggests that a large part of the cognitive protection that certain berries provide is due to nerve cell protection from oxidative damage. 

Side Effects

There are no known side effects in the current research on this phytonutrient. 

Safety

Anthocyanin is a naturally derived phytonutrient, and regarded as safe by the FDA. Specifically, it is approved as a dietary supplement component under provisions of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994. It is classified as generally regarded as safe (GRAS) according to FDA standards. 

Published Research

1. Hertog MG, et al. (1993). Intake of potentially anticarcinogenic flavonoids and their determinants in adults in the Netherlands. Nutr Cancer; 20:21-9. 

2. Cao G, et al. (2001). Anthocyanins are absorbed in glycated forms in elderly women: a pharmacokinetic study. Am J Clin Nutr; 73:920-6. 

3. Kuhnau J. The flavonoids (1976). A class of semi-essential food components: their role in human nutrition. World Rev Nutr Diet; 24:117-91. 

4. Watson, A. W., Haskell-Ramsay, C. F., Kennedy, D. O., Cooney, J. M., Trower, T., & Scheepens, A. (2015). Acute supplementation with blackcurrant extracts modulates cognitive functioning and inhibits monoamine oxidase-B in healthy young adults. Journal of Functional Foods, 17, 524-539. 

5. Bowtell, J. L., Aboo-Bakkar, Z., Conway, M., Adlam, A. L. R., & Fulford, J. (2017). Enhanced task related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, (ja). 

6. Bookheimer, S. Y., Renner, B. A., Ekstrom, A., Li, Z., Henning, S. M., Brown, J. A., ... & Small, G. W. (2013). Pomegranate juice augments memory and FMRI activity in middle-aged and older adults with mild memory complaints. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.