Ever wonder why certain fruits and vegetables are so vibrant? The red to blue-violet hues come from protective plant compounds called anthocyanins.
Along with providing color, anthocyanins may help protect your heart.
They are found in:
Anthocyanins may decrease blood pressure and increase flexibility of artery walls. They have also been associated with reducing inflammation in the body, which may decrease risk of chronic diseases like heart disease. Anthocyanin-rich foods might also defend against heart attacks by protecting the lining of heart and blood vessels.
But having strawberries solely on Valentine’s Day isn’t going to cut it.
Research suggests consuming at least ½ cup of anthocyanin-containing foods daily may have benefits. As for those berries? They may be particularly good for your heart – eating them more than 3 times per week may reduce risk of a heart attack.
Need inspiration? Try this quinoa breakfast bowl with strawberries.
Bhagwat H, Haytowitz D, Holden J. USDA database for the flavonoid content of selected foods. USDA Agriculture Research Service. 2013.
Cassidy A, Mukamal K, Liu L, Franz M, Eliassen A, and Rimm E. High anthocyanin intake is associated with a reduced risk of myocardial infarction in young and middle-aged women. Circulation. 2013;127(2): 188-196.
Cassidy A, Rogers G, Peterson J, Dwyer J, Lin H, et al. Higher dietary anthocyanin and flavonol intakes are associated with anti-inflammatory effects in a population of US adults. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2015; 102(1): 172-181.
Hassellund S, Flaa A, Kjeldsen S, Selijeflot I, Karlsen A, Erlund I, and Rostrup M. Effects of anthocyanins on cardiovascular risk factors and inflammation in pre-hypertensive men: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled crossover study. Journal of Human Hypertension. 2013; 27: 100-106.
Jennings A, Welch A, Fairweather-Tait S, Minihane A, Chowiencyzk P, et al. Higher anthocyanin intake is associated with lower arterial stiffness and central blood pressure in women. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 96(4): 781-788.
By Alyssa Tisdale, MGH Dietetic Intern