Acai berries are extremely popular for their antioxidant, anthocyanin, but there are many other foods with anthocyanin that you can add to your diet to obtain antioxidant benefits. Anthocyanin is a very fancy term for the pigments that create the red, blue, and purple colors in fruits and vegetables. It is a very powerful and health benefiting pigment that is probably the most important plant pigment aside from chlorophyll! Personally, I love most of the foods with anthocyanin; raspberries are a favorite!
You may have heard that drinking blueberry juice is beneficial for your brain. The reason it is so wonderful for brain health is due to its high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanin helps brain function and protects against neurological diseases by limiting oxidative damage that can occur in the brain. Blueberries certainly have been touted as brain superstars, but adding any type of berry to your diet is a wonderful way to increase the amount of foods with anthocyanin you consume. Next time you have a bowl of cereal try topping it with a cup of your favorite berries. Not only will it taste good, but it will give you a healthy dose of anthocyanin!
Tart cherries, especially Montmorency cherries, are revered for their anti-inflammatory properties. There has been a lot of research conducted on the benefits of Montmorency cherries, and the studies have shown these cherries reduce inflammation and help decrease pain caused by arthritis. The magic in these cherries comes from their extremely high anthocyanin content, which inhibits the pro-inflammatory factors COX-1 and COX-2. These cherries are so beneficial for inflammation that they have been compared to aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications! As an added benefit, tart cherries also contain melatonin, which can help promote sleep. Next time you’re feeling achy and can’t sleep try some tart cherry juice instead of Tylenol PM. It just might help!
When I was little I loved drinking Concord grape juice for its rich, sweet flavor. At the age of six I didn’t know that Concord grapes were extremely healthy, or that my favorite juice could actually be good for me. However, purple grapes and purple grape juice have many health promoting properties due to the anthocyanin content in their skin. Grapes are well known for their positive benefits on heart health. Usually, you hear about red wine as the great benefiter of the heart. However, grape juice can be just as good for the heart, and it doesn’t have the alcohol that stresses your liver. Next time you want to reminisce about childhood, pour yourself some Concord grape juice and reap the anthocyanin benefits while you are remembering your playground days!
Pomegranates are a special treat during the winter months, but their juice is available year round. This jewel colored, tart fruit has had a lot of media coverage because it has so many health benefits. Pomegranates have many different antioxidants, including anthocyanin, which is a large contributor to the health promoting properties of the pomegranate. Just one of the many benefits of eating pomegranates is their potential to protect against cancer. Preclinical laboratory studies have found that consuming pomegranates leads to a decrease in prostate cancer markers, and it has an ability to prevent breast, skin, colon, and lung cancer! This is only one of numerous reasons to indulge in pomegranates for a winter treat.
If you are not a fan of fruit, don’t despair. The beautiful purple color in eggplants is a result of the anthocyanin in the skin, and it provides just as many health benefits as the fruit I previously mentioned. Eggplants can benefit both cardiovascular and brain health, and they have the added benefit of being a good source of manganese. Eggplants can be quite bitter, so I always press some of the moisture out with a paper towel to get rid of some of the bitterness. It is a trick my grandma taught me, and it really seems to work.
For those of you who love asparagus like I do, the purple tips of asparagus spears are a good source of anthocyanin. Asparagus is definitely one of my favorite vegetables, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that this veggie is a source of antioxidants. One of the most amazing benefits of asparagus is its ability to protect against cancer! Researchers have found that asparagus and asparagus extract can change the metabolic activity of cancer cells. Although this research is in early stages, it is very promising. Asparagus is also a great source of Vitamin K, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, and several other key nutrients.
7. Black Beans
I must admit, antioxidants are not the first thing I think of when I think of beans. However, the rich black color of black beans is an excellent source of anthocyanin. Like the fruits and vegetables that contain anthocyanin, black beans promote antioxidant activity and have beneficial effects on cardiovascular health and inflammation, but they also have the extra benefit of protein. Black beans are a great source of protein and provide 1/3 of your daily protein requirements in one cup! As a vegetarian, I often eat black beans, and now I know that I am not just meeting my protein needs, I am also providing my body with antioxidants.
Adding foods rich in anthocyanin is great for your health, and the good news is it is not hard to do. Many common foods contain abundant amounts of anthocyanins. Try adding a few of these foods to your diet to boost your antioxidant intake. What are your favorite purple fruits?