Anthocyanin Color
May 18, 2021

Anthocyanin Color

Anthocyanins (also anthocyans; from Greek: ἄνθος (anthos) "flower" and κυάνεος/κυανοῦς kyaneos/kyanous "dark blue") are water-soluble vacuolar pigments that, depending on their pH, may appear red, purple, blue or black. Food plants rich in anthocyanins include the blueberry, raspberry, black rice, and black soybean, among many others that are red, blue, purple, or black. Some of the colors of autumn leaves are derived from anthocyanins.

Anthocyanins belong to a parent class of molecules called flavonoids synthesized via the phenylpropanoid pathway. They occur in all tissues of higher plants, including leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and fruits. Anthocyanins are derived from anthocyanidins by adding sugars. They are odorless and moderately astringent.

Although approved to color foods and beverages in the European Union, anthocyanins are not approved for use as a food additive because they have not been verified as safe when used as food or supplement ingredients. There is no conclusive evidence that anthocyanins have any effect on human biology or diseases.

Anthocyanin Color absorption

Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments produced via the flavonoid pathway in the cytoplasm of the colored plant cell. The attachment of the sugar molecule makes them particularly soluble in the sap of the vacuole, where these molecules are stored…..once they are launched. These are responsible for the pink-red colors of most flower petals, of most red fruits (like apples) and almost all red leaves during the autumn. Anthocyanins absorb light in the blue-green wavelengths, allowing the red wavelengths to be scattered by the plant tissues to make these organs visible to us as red.

Anthocyanin foods

Anthocyanin foods

Anthocyanins are plant pigments that exhibit show-stopping antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power. Here is the list of foods that offers the highest concentration of anthocyanins per serving. For best results, include these foods in your diet regularly.

Black raspberries

Black currants



Red cabbage

Black plums

Red radish

Red raspberries

Because past studies have indicated that anthocyanins may offer unique benefits for the lungs, John’s Hopkins scientists decided to investigate further. Anthocyanins are exceedingly potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds that provide brilliant purple/bluish hues to plant-based foods.

For this study, 463 adults had their diets and lung function carefully assessed in 2002 and then again in 2012. Researchers then grouped the study subjects into quartiles based on their dietary intakes of foods high in anthocyanin pigments. Relative to study subjects reporting the lowest intakes of anthocyanin foods, those consuming the most (the upper quartile) experienced significantly less decline in their lung function over the 10- year study period.

Anthocyanin pigment in plants

Anthocyanins are a group of polyphenolic pigments that are ubiquitously found in the plant kingdom. In plants, anthocyanins play a role not only in reproduction, by attracting pollinators and seed dispersers, but also in protection against various abiotic and biotic stresses.

Anthocyanin in leaves

Anthocyanins diminish the oxidative load in a leaf simply by filtering out yellow-green light, since the majority of reactive oxygen in plant cells is derived from the excitation of chlorophyll. Anthocyanins are, in addition, excellent scavengers of free radicals.

Anthocyanin vegetables

Anthocyanin vegetables

Anthocyanins give fruits and vegetables a blue-purple color. Anthocyanins may have antioxidant and anti-aging benefits and may even enhance memory. Common fruits and vegetables rich in anthocyanins include blueberries, black grapes, raisins, blackberries, plums, purple cabbage, eggplant, purple cauliflower and purple potatoes.

Anthocyanin structure

The empirical formula for flavylium ion of anthocyanin is C15H11O+ with a molecular weight of 207.24724 g/mol. On the other hand, anthocyanins are the glycosylated form of anthocyanidins. The conjugated bonds of anthocyanins result in red, blue, and purple-colored plants.

Why do Anthocyanins change color

The color of anthocyanins is depending on the pH of the solution. This is because of the molecular structure of anthocyanins having an ionic nature. In acidic condition, some of the anthocyanins appear red. Anthocyanins have a purple hue in neutral pH while the color changes to blue in an increasing pH condition.

What color does Anthocyanin absorb

Anthocyanins absorb light in the blue-green wavelengths, allowing the red wavelengths to be scattered by the plant tissues to make these organs visible to us as red.

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