Anthocyanin Benefits: These Plant Pigments Fight Inflammation, Cancer and Heart Disease
The reddish and purple pigments that give many fruits, vegetables and berries their appealing color continue to shine as super functional nutrients that help prevent disease. Research published in the journal, Molecular Cancer, found that a special anthocyanin pigment found in the skins of deeply colored vegetables and berries, known as cyanidin-3-glucoside (C3G), is a powerful antioxidant that can sacrifice itself to blunt the effect of health-damaging free radicals.
Grapes, blueberries and black currants provide a potent source of C3G anthocyanins. Extensive scientific research is uncovering the specific mechanism that this nutrient exerts on our genes as a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. C3G is shown to protect against many deadly age-related conditions including cancer, heart disease and metabolic syndrome.
C3G Shown to Directly Influence Genes
As improved techniques evolve that are capable of revealing the efficacy of specific compounds at the molecular and genetic level, C3G is beginning to shine as a potent influence on DNA strands that effect the production of free radicals. Researchers have found that this natural nutrient is able to prevent the formation of new free radicals and can neutralize the damaging effect of those already formed.
A high intake of fruits and vegetables is associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, largely due to polyphenols in the anthocyanin family including C3G. The result of a study published in Molecular Cancer provides insight into the powerful protective mechanism exhibited by anthocyanins toward developing cancer cells. C3G was shown to inhibit the action of special oncogenes (genes that lead to cancer formation), known to be the first stage in tumor genesis.
Further research identifies the link between C3G and suppression of the master inflammatory switch called NF-kB. Inflammation is a leading cause for cancer initiation and this functional compound has been shown to sacrifice itself as it inhibits the effect of NF-kB to prevent the formation of many tumor types.
Compound Lowers the Risk From Heart Disease
C3G is also an important player in preventing heart disease and the events that lead to a potentially fatal heart attack. Nitrogen-based free radicals are known to attack the inner endothelial lining of the coronary arteries, causing the surface to become resistant to the continual demands necessary to react quickly to changes in blood pressure. C3G neutralizes the effect of these damaging free radicals and helps to restore the normal elastic integrity of the delicate arteries that supply blood to the heart.
Results from the European EPIC study show that eating at least 8 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day can lower the risk of all-cause mortality by 22%. Anthocyanins such as C3G are one example of essential nutritional compounds found in natural foods that have been identified with a specific action shown to lower the risk of chronic disease. Health conscious individuals will want to ensure they eat at least 10 daily servings of vegetables and fruits (especially berries highly concentrated in C3G) to ward off many of the common diseases associated with aging.
John Phillip is a diet, health and nutrition researcher and writer with a passion for understanding weight loss challenges and encouraging health modification through natural diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation. John’s passion is to research and write about the cutting edge alternative health technologies that affect our lives.
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Article updated on: March 30th, 2011