Polyphenols, Phytochemicals, Anthocyanins, what are they and what are the benefits of such compounds? Phytochemicals characterize, or sum up the whole picture of the beneficial compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and certain teas. They are the protective living matter in which plants are able to thrive in some uncertain environments such as climate and insect infestations. When consumed by humans, these compounds act as antioxidants so vital to good health and longevity. Many studies suggest that the use of antioxidants may help in the fight against anti-aging, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and so many other age related degenerative diseases including ophthalmology. Anthocyanins are some of the more potent forms of antioxidants. We have all heard of the “French Paradox”, how the people of France with their high fat diets and not uncommon unhealthy lifestyles are still below the percentage of related deaths from cardiovascular disease than many of the populations which exist today. One reason may be that they consume large amounts of red wine. Wine, made from grapes have very high levels of the antioxidant anthocyanins. The polyphenols (anthocyanins) in red wine, are believed to mitigate the effects of a fatty diet and smoking. Anthocyanin, a polyphenol which is proven to reverse, halt, and improve the conditions of many age related diseases inflicted on the general population. Anthocyanins (flavonoids) found in various fruits have a unique chemical structure that makes them 6 to 8 times more potent than vitamin C. One particular fruit, known as Acai (ah-Sa-E) contains the most highly concentrated forms of anthocyanins known thus far through intense research. The anthocyanin content in the Acai is proven to be 3.5 times the amount of that present in a glass of red wine, volume to volume when tested in an ORAL analysis ( measure of capacity). Anthocyanins and their protective properties: Inflammation and Collagen: Anthocyanins neutralize enzymes that destroy connective tissue. Their antioxidant capacity prevents oxidants from damaging connective tissues and repair damaged proteins in the blood-vessel walls. The Nervous System: By preventing tyrosine nitration, the anthocyanin properties in Acai may help protect against neurological diseases. The primary anthocyanins in Acai known as Cyanidin-3-glucoside have been found to help in the reversal of age related neurological deficits. Large and Small Blood-Vessels: Anthocyanins ability to counter oxidants make them a powerhouse in the fight against arteriosclerosis. Even in trace amounts, anthocyanins effectively protect against LDL oxidation. Anthocyanins protect the integrity of the endothelial cells that line blood vessel walls and help to maintain micro capillary integrity. Diabetes: One of the serious diabetic complications is retinopathy, which in most cases can cause blindness. This condition occurs when the body attempts to repair leaking, damaged capillaries, but does so by over producing abnormal proteins. The protection of anthocyanins may help prevent these capillaries from leaking and to help prevent abnormal protein proliferation. Eyesight: Anthocyanins may also help improve eyesight by numerous mechanisms. In the Second World War, British fighter pilots were found to have improved night vision. These findings were thought to be contributed by the large amounts of bilberry in the pilot’s diet. The effects of the improved night vision were not long lasting after the initial consumption of bilberry lasting just hours after initial consumption. With this new found advantage, the pilots would consume the bilberry fruits just prior to the mission. Sources: Pigmentated fruits are known to carry the highest amounts of anthocyanins. Fruits that can be eaten with skin on, offer the highest value of anthocyanins. These fruits would consist of cherries, grapes, raspberries, blueberries, bilberry, and Acai to name a few.
Whole Foods Magazine The Hidden Secrets Written By: Jeffrey Bliss