What Are Anthocyanins ?

Fruit are wonderful sources of anthocyanins
Photo by Ann Jury, c/o Pixabay.

Anthocyanins are natural pigments belonging to the flavonoid family and are responsible for a wide range of colors in fruits, vegetables and flowers.

Chemical Structure

They are polyhydroxy or polymethoxy derivatives of 2-phenyl-benzopyrylium. Many  are present in plants attached to sugars as mono, di or triglycosides by α- or β-linkages (Marta et al., 2009 ).

There are more than 500 anthocyanins in nature, and the most common anthocyanins in plants are cyanidin (Cn), pelargonidin (Pg), peonidin (Pn), delphinidin (Dp), petunidin (Pt) and malvidin (Mv), which have a 3-glycoside structure (Ali et al., 2016).

Due to the urgent need for natural and healthy pigments in the food industry, the exploration of anthocyanins from edible plants is receiving increasing attention (Araceli et al., 2009).


Ali, H.M., Almagribi, W., Alrashidi, M.N. (2016) Antiradical and reductant activities of anthocyanidins and anthocyanins, structure-activity relationship and synthesis. Food Chemistry. 194 pp. 1275–1282. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.09.003.

Araceli C, Madelourdes PH, Maelena P, Joséa R, Carlosandrés G. Chemical studies of anthocyanins: A review. Food Chemistry. 113 pp. 859–871. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2008.09.001. 

Marta, Á., et al. (2009) Bioconversion of anthocyanin glycosides by Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. Food Research International. 42 pp. 1453–1461. doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2009.07.026.

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