Top 23 Anthocyanin Rich Superfoods And Their Amazing Benefits

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Anthocyanins and Health
Anthocyanins and Health graphic ©
Food images – Wikipedia lic. under CC (see foot of article for full license info)

Anthocyanins are a class of over 600 pigments that occur naturally in plants. A type of flavonoid, they appear red, purple or blue – exhibiting color change depending on pH. Anthocyanins are responsible for the rich colors in red, blue and purple berries, purple corn, red grapes, eggplant, blood oranges and other red, purple or violet plants.

Anthocyanins are now widely considered to have numerous amazing health benefits. Laboratory evidence has suggested that they may be beneficial against cancer, inflammation, heart disease, diabetes, bacterial infections, age-related neurodegenerative disease and other neurological diseases.

Anthocyanin-rich mixtures and extracts were used in old times to treat many conditions including hypertension, liver disorders, dysentery and diarrhoea, urinary problems (including kidney stones and urinary tract infections), colds and flu. [1]

Anthocyanins and anthocyanidins are also thought to possess analgesic, neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory ability.

Anthocyanins – particularly from blackcurrant – are strongly suggested by a number of studies to improve sharpness of vision. It has even been suggested by researchers that they may help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Anthocyanins are of particular interest in the fight against cancer. In research, anthocyanins have been found to reduce cancer cell proliferation and to inhibit tumor formation. A study at the University of Illinois showed that supplementation of the diet with black raspberries led to a reduction in incidence of colorectal cancer by 45%.

We’ve also written in-depth articles about anticancer foods and anticancer herbs.

Top 23 Anthocyanin Rich Superfoods

We’ve compiled a list for you using data provided by the USDA in 2006 and from Wikipedia (where stated), of the top foods by anthocyanin content. Note that due to differences in the varieties, growing conditions, harvesting / extraction methods and preparation, the values should not be seen as absolute – in fact there is potential for considerable variation. Anthocyanin content is measured in milligrams per 100g.

Chokeberry 2,147
Elderberry 1,993
Purple Corn 1,642 (Wikipedia)
Black raspberry 845
Eggplant 750
Blueberry, wild 705
Blackcurrant 533
Blueberry, cultivated 529
Marion blackberry 433
Blackberry 353
Açaí Berry 320
Orange 200 (Wikipedia)
Concord grape 192
Sweet Cherry 177 (350-400 according to Wikipedia)
Cranberry 133
Red raspberry 116 (365 according to Wikipedia)
Red radish 116
Red cabbage 113
Black Plum 82.2
Strawberry (Oregon OSC) 69.2
Red grape 42.7 (888 according to Wikipedia!)
Red onion 38.8
Red wine 24 to 35 (Wikipedia)

The data was compiled from Concentrations of Anthocyanins in Common Foods in the United States and Estimation of Normal Consumption; Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2006, 54, 4069-4075 – and from

One thing worth noting is that it is now thought that saliva breaks down anthocyanins at least partially, significantly reducing their potential. Nonetheless, numerous studies have found actual benefits from the consumption of anthocyanin rich foods. Note also that there is no “official” RDA for anthocyanins.

Sources Consulted / Further Reading:

“Anthocyanins and Human Health: An In Vitro Investigative Approach” (2004)


[1] “Anthocyanins—More Than Nature’s Colours”

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