When you were a kid did your parents tell you to eat your fruits and veggies? Have you been told that red, purple and blue fruits are healthy to eat? They’re right – because of dietary anthocyanins.
The anthocyanins are a group of flavonoids, pigments in fruits, flowers, plant leaves and seeds that have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. There are a lot of studies that have looked into the effects of dietary anthocyanins on obesity, inflammation and other metabolic markers of health.
In 2016 it was estimated that nearly 40% of American adults were obese. In 2018, 30 million Americans were KNOWN to have heart disease. Almost 650,000 Americans are newly diagnosed with heart disease every year. Dietary change is key to addressing obesity and heart disease. Diabetes and heart disease are not skyrocketing because we’re deficient in metformin and Lipitor, for Pete’s sake. It’s because of what we put in our mouths. Every. Day.
What sorts of foods are we talking about? Red cabbage, blueberries, blackcurrants, mulberries, cherries, black elderberry, black soybean and chokeberry contain a variety of anthocyanins. Foods that have red, purple and blue colors are incredibly healthy to eat because of these powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pigments.
A group out of Korea published a very good review of the literature on the effect of anthrocyanins in the diet. Turns out eating foods containing anthocyanins reduces a number of markers of inflammation and metabolic illness, such as C reactive protein, LDL cholesterol, leptin, glucose, tumor necrosis factor, insulin and triglycerides. Eating these foods also down-regulates genes involved in weight gain and obesity.
We can do a lot with diet to impact our risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and other illnesses. Decreasing animal foods and saturated fat, sodium and salt in the diet and increasing fruits and vegetables, dietary fiber and other plant based foods are good steps in the right direction.
When you’re picking fruits and vegetables, pick red, blue and purple ones so that you’re getting lots of dietary anthocyanins!