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Dietary anthocyanin-rich plants: Biochemical basis and recent progress in health benefits studies


  • Takanori Tsuda

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Chubu University, Kasugai, Aichi, Japan
    • College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Chubu University, 1200 Matsumoto-cho, Kasugai, Aichi 487-8501, Japan Fax: +81-568-51-9659
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Anthocyanins are one type of flavonoid phytopigment. Although the role of anthocyanins as a functional food factor remains relatively less established than that of other flavonoids, progress in this area has been made at the molecular level in recent years. This review discusses the potential health benefits of plant-derived anthocyanin-rich foods, with a focus on the role of anthocyanins in obesity control, diabetes control, cardiovascular disease prevention, and improvement of visual and brain functions, areas that have attracted much attention. Such health benefits are not necessarily derived from the antioxidant effect of anthocyanins, but in fact are produced by currently unestablished chemical properties beyond the antioxidant capacity of the molecules. However, a better understanding of the physiological functionality of anthocyanins remains to be elucidated. It is desirable, therefore, to clarify the molecular type and composition of the anthocyanins that confer specific health benefits and to conduct further investigation into the underlying molecular mechanisms. The pharmacological actions of anthocyanins could not be fully established without knowledge on the effects of treatment of anthocyanins alone, the effects of non-anthocyanin components, and the possible interactions between anthocyanin and non-anthocyanin species.