Scientific ASIA

Anthocyanins: Potent Therapeutic Compound

Anthocyanins are the colored pigments found in plant. They play essential roles in plant physiology, in the food industry and human health. Numerous studies have been performed to investigate the health-promoting effects of anthocyanins against some diseases, using in vitro and in vivo models. Most of the studies only focused on certain types of diseases or the selected health benefits1.

Although, several studies has reported the potential health benefits of anthocyanins from plants, but there is need to cover the antioxidant capacity, anticancer and antimicrobial effects of anthocyanins. Therefore, a new study reviewed the health benefits of anthocyanins with anti-oxidative and antimicrobial effects, improving coronary heart disease, anti-obesity and anti-diabetes, anticancer activities, improving neurodegenerative disorders and increasing visual acuity2.

Anthocyanins are the phenolic compounds that exhibit antioxidative properties. Several studies demonstrated that anthocyanins-rich foods such as berries, blackcurrant and grapes exhibited great antioxidant properties. The compounds are able to scavenge free radicals and cease the chain reaction that will cause oxidative damage3.

Anthocyanin-rich red cabbage extract is reported having hypocholesterolaemia, cardio-protective and hepato-protective properties on atherogenic diet-induced oxidative stress and tissue injury in rats4. Anthocyanins from berry extracts exhibited antimicrobial activity through different pathways, such as inducing damage to the cell wall, membrane and intercellular matrix5.

The study reported on the potential health benefits of anthocyanins in the prevention of several diseases. These purple pigments from plants have antioxidative, cardioprotective, antimicrobial, anticancer and several metabolic diseases including antiobesity and antidiabetes potential. Anthocyanins also improve cognitive function and neurodegenerative disorder as well as visual acuity. These evidence-based reports are useful for the scientific community to further research on anthocyanin pigments and for the general public to fully utilise anthocyanins in the prevention of diseases.

Many studies have proven the efficacies of anthocyanins in the prevention of these diseases and improve general health. Although, most studies did not specify the type of anthocyanin used, these studies reported the efficacy of anthocyanin-rich extracts from fruits and vegetables. However, the efficacy of anthocyanins is not mainly due to the compounds themselves. The synergetic effect of anthocyanins and other phenolic compounds is essential for prevention of diseases as well as their antioxidative activities. In a nutshell, anthocyanins are the colored pigments isolated from plants with therapeutic effects in the prevention of several diseases and health complications.

Keywords: Anthocyanin, antimicrobial, cancer, health benefit, obesity, phenolic compounds, health complications, antioxidative activities, colored pigment, chain reaction, therapeutic potential, pharmacology.


  1. Bridle, P., & Timberlake, C. F. (1997). Anthocyanins as natural food colours—selected aspects. Food chem., 58(1-2), 103-109.
  2. Wang, H., Cao, G., & Prior, R. L. (1997). Oxygen radical absorbing capacity of anthocyanins. J. agri. Food Chem., 45(2), 304-309.
  3. He, J. and M.M. Giusti, 2010. Anthocyanins: Natural colorants with health-promoting properties. Annu. Rev. Food Sci. Technol., 1: 163-187.
  4. Sankhari, J.M., M.C. Thounaojam, R.N. Jadeja, R.V. Devkar and A.V. Ramachandran, 2012. Anthocyanin-rich red cabbage (Brassica oleracea L.) extract attenuates cardiac and hepatic oxidative stress in rats fed an atherogenic diet. J. Sci. Food Agric., 92: 1688-1693.
  5. Pojer, E., F. Mattivi, D. Johnson and C.S. Stockley, 2013. The case for anthocyanin consumption to promote human health: A review. Compr. Rev. Food Sci. Food Saf., 12: 483-508.

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