Anthocyanins lower cholesterol and raise HDL

September 04, 2009

Anthocyanins are beautiful pigments found in plants that make them attractive to animals and insects that act as pollinators. Anthocyanins give the beautiful purples, reds, and blues to so many healthy foods. In the plant Anthocyanins also act as a sunscreen and as powerful antioxidants.

Plants rich in Anthocyanins include blueberry, cranberry and bilberry (Vaccinium species), berries in the Rubus family including black raspberry, red raspberry and blackberry, blackcurrant, and cherry. The highest recorded amount appears to be specifically in the seed coat of black soybean and in skins and pulp of black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa L.). However, the Amazonian palm berry, Acai, is also very high.

In this newly published study Anthocyanin supplementation improved both LDL- and HDL-cholesterol concentrations in patients with high cholesterol. In previous research Anthocyanins have been shown to exert benefits on the lipid profile in many animal models. The current objective was to investigate the effects of berry-derived Anthocyanin supplements on the serum lipid profile in patients with cholesterol issues.

A total of 120 dyslipidemic subjects 40 to 65 years of age were given 160 mg Anthocyanins twice daily or placebo for 12 weeks in a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Anthocyanin consumption increased HDL-cholesterol concentrations (13.7% vs. 2.8% in the Anthocyanin and placebo groups respectively) and decreased LDL-cholesterol concentrations (13.6% and 0.6% in the Anthocyanin and placebo groups, respectively. The study is published in the September 1, 2009 issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.