Around one in ten persons in the United States now has diabetes, and many more have elevated blood sugar levels and prediabetes symptoms. However, eating more berries and receiving the benefits of their health-promoting anthocyanins and flavonoids is proving to be a powerful step toward avoiding this disease.
Anthocyanins are the colorful pigments found in plant components such as berries and other fruits, flowers, leaves and stems. They are what give plants their deep, rich red, blue and purple hues. All told, there are at least 560 different anthocyanins. However, research is calling attention to the edible flavonoid anthocyanins found in berries as showing tremendous health benefits, including help in the war against diabetes.
Anthocyanins in berries reduce the risk of diabetes and prediabetes
The Harvard School of Public Health released a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that showed flavonoids in blueberries significantly lower type 2 diabetes risk. Previous studies have shown consuming more berries improve insulin sensitivity. The compounds in berries also reduce signs of metabolic syndrome – which involves biomarkers that indicate a likelihood of diabetes.
Studies about blueberries found that these flavonoid-rich berries help shield participants against diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Over 180,000 men and women free of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease were tracked in terms of health and eating habits for two decades. Higher intake of berries was associated with a significantly lowered risk for type 2 diabetes.
Anthocyanins in berries reduce inflammation, cardiovascular issues, neurological disorders and cancer risk
Anthocyanins contain potent antioxidants that could help heal a range of health conditions in addition to diabetes, including inflammation, arthritis, gout, neurological disorders, and cancer. Black raspberry, in particular, can inhibit esophageal cancer in rats by up to 60 percent and block colon cancer development by as much as 80 percent.
Studies of polyphenolic extracts from cranberries were found to inhibit tumor growth in breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancers. While anthocyanins played a role, researchers speculate that cranberries have a unique combination of phytochemicals that may be the reason for these potent anti-cancer effects.
Some of the best berry sources for anthocyanins and flavonoids include blueberries, cranberries, chokeberries, raspberries, acai berries, cherries, blackberries, currants, mulberries and elderberries. These healing compounds are also present in dark colored grapes, red cabbage, red and purple olives, blood oranges, and eggplant skins.
High concentrations of anthocyanin are the most effective against disease
While eating fresh, organic berries offers a range of health benefits, seeking out fruit concentrates can increase their healing benefits and effects dramatically. Juices, dried berries and freeze dried berries are up to 10 times more potent in some cases.
For best health results, consume at least half a cup of organic berries per day. You can also take an anthocyanin-rich supplement to receive its protective effects against diabetes and other health issues.
Editor’s Note: For those in need of a good superfood powder, Village Green Apothacary offers up a variety of the best – including those with anthocyanin-rice berries.