The Newest Inflammation Fighter
Anthocyanins, the compounds that make raspberries red and blueberries blue have receieved some recent credibility in the Journal of Nutrition report. It turns out that anthocyanins may protect you from the dreaded I-word: inflammation.
Chronic inflammation has been linked to a variety of conditions including Alzheimer’s, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. It occurs when the body’s normal protective mechanisms are lacking or even over-acting. According to Norwegian researchers, anthocyanins may dampen the activation of cells responsible for the body’s inflammatory response.
This study was part of a large program where antioxidant- and phytochemical-rich foods or food components were identified and tested. A multitude of different study designs were used to determine whether these foods, extracts and components might stymie oxidative stress or inflammation. In the lab, anthocyanins reduced inflammation precusor cell activation by 27.6%. In clinical trials involving 120 men and women, those taking 300 mg of an anthocyanin extract daily for three weeks experienced a decrease of between 25 and 60% in many different inflammatory mediators. How anthocyanins hinder inflammation isn’t fully understood, but one possibility is that they serve as buffers that are capable of suppressing oxidative stress, which in turn does not allow the inflammatory response to begin in the first place.
You could eat deeply hued fruits and vegetables like blueberries and rhubarb until the cows come home and still not get enough of these anti-inflammatory compounds to have a therapeutic effect. If you really want to reap the benefits of anthocyanins, reach for an extract, which is the end product of taking pounds and pounds of a whole food and making it more concentrated for consumption. So you get all the benefits without the full belly.
Source: A Karlsen, L. Retterstol, P. Laake, et al. “Anthocyanins Inhibit Nuclear Factor-B Activation in Monocytes and Reduce Plasma Concentrations of Pro-Inflammatory Mediators in Healthy Adults” Journal of Nutrition 137: 1951-1954, 2007.