Health Benefits of Anthocyanins in Black Rice and Red Rice

Health Benefits of Anthocyanins in Black Rice and Red Rice

November 26, 2016

Anthocyanins are a type of flavonoid, a class of compounds with antioxidant effects. Found naturally in a number of foods, anthocyanins are the pigments that give black rice and red rice their rich coloring. In addition to acting as antioxidants and fighting free radicals, anthocyanins may offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits. 

Heart Disease 
Anthocyanins may enhance heart health, according to a 2010 report published in Nutrition Reviews. The report's authors note that anthocyanins appear to improve cholesterol levels and blood sugar metabolism, as well as fight oxidative stress (a process known to play a role in heart disease). Dietary intake of anthocyanins may also help prevent high blood pressure (a major risk factor for heart disease), according to a 2011 study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 

Preliminary research suggests that anthocyanins may protect against obesity. In a 2008 study from the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists found that mice fed an anthocyanin-enriched high-fat diet for eight weeks gained less weight than mice fed a high-fat diet without anthocyanins. 

Antioxidants are considered to be great combatants against free radical activity within the body. One study found anthocyanins to be the strongest antioxidant of 150 different flavonoids. Anthocyanins may aid in the prevention of breast cancer, according to a laboratory study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2010. In test-tube experiments, scientists showed that anthocyanins extracted from blueberries helped inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. 

Anthocyanins increase blood sugar metabolism and studies show that they may have a positive effect on abnormal collagen production, a side effect of diabetes that contributes to poor blood sugar control. One study also suggested that anthocyanins may be effective in preventing retinopathy, a diabetic condition that can lead to blindness. The anthocyanins not only prevent an overproduction of proteins but were also shown to repair leaking, damaged capillaries. 

Experiments with animals have shown that anothocyanins may be a useful anti-inflammatory due in part because they prevent blood-vessel damage. Research suggests that they may be useful in fighting chronic inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, arthritis, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and many other diseases.