When I think of foods that have “super” health-promoting properties, berries are on my list of top ten favorites. Not only are they delicious, but bilberries, black currants, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, raspberries, strawberries—in fact, every berry you can think of—offer an enormous range of health benefits. What all of these berries have in common are anthocyanins—the pigments that give them their rich deep red and purple coloring
In 2010, a report in Nutrition Reviews evaluated studies on anthocyanins, and concluded that berries (either fresh, juiced, or freeze-dried) and purified anthocyanin extracts convey significant improvements in cardiovascular risk factors including LDL oxidation, lipid peroxidation, total plasma antioxidant capacity, dyslipidemia, and glucose metabolism.
According to the report, both healthy subjects and people with existing metabolic risk factors benefited from anthocyanins. Among other favorable actions, anthocyanins increase endothelial nitric oxide formation, decrease oxidative stress, and inhibit inflammation. In 2011, a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that anthocyanins also help to normalize blood pressure. Anthocyanins appear to help mitigate the effects ofangiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE), which causes arteries to constrict and raises blood pressure.In a subsequent study reported in 2012, researchers found that a higher intake of anthocyanins and flavones are inversely associated with less arterial stiffness, central blood pressure, and atherosclerosis.
The evidence continues to mount for the benefits of anthocyanins and other flavonoid compounds. A 2013 review and analysis of studies reported that dietary intake of six classes of flavonoids, namely flavonols, anthocyanidins, proanthocyanidins, flavones, flavanones and flavan-3-ols, significantly decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.