Tag Archives: Anthocyanins

Insane Medicine: What are phytochemicals?

  • Phytochemicals are plant-derived compounds that are present in fruits, vegetables, beans, cereals, and plant-based beverages such as tea and wine. They are believe to confer disease protection. Some phytochemicals have either antioxidant or hormone-like actions. There is evidence that some phytochemicals prevent cancers by interfering with carcinogens.
  • Phytochemicals are broken up into Phenolic acids, Flavonoids, and Stilbenes/Lignans.
  • Flavonoids are further broken up into Anthocyanins/Flavones/Isoflavones/Flavonones and under a separate group, the Flavanols.
  • Flavonols include Catechins, epicatechins, and the proanthocyanidins.
  • Flavonoids are the largest and most diverse group of phytochemicals and contribute to the decreased mortality in people who consume large amounts of plant-based foods. The more flavonoids you consume, the lower the risk of a heart attack!
  • Flavonoids act by inhibiting xanthine oxidase and arachidonic acid metabolism in the body.


Chart of flavonoids Below:
Class of flavonoid           Example                  Common Food Source
Flavonol      ————-Quercetin      ———Apples, Onions
Flavanol        ————Catechin         ———Tea, Coffee, Chocolate
Isoflavone   ———– Genistein     ———Soy
Flavonone   ———— Hesperitin  ——— Grapefruit
Anthocyanidin  ——–Cyanidin     ———- Berries

  • A diet high in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of chronic diseases. Consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables of multiple colors, shapes, and types optimizes health benefits from diet.
  • Carotenoids, which give carrots, yams, cantaloupe, butternut squash, and apricots their orange color, are promoted as anti-cancer agents . Tomatoes, red peppers, and pink grapefruit contain lycopene, which proponents claim is a powerful antioxidant (see Lycopene). The phytochemicals lutein and zeaxanthin are carotenoids found in spinach, kale, and turnip greens that may reduce the risk of some cancers. Another group of phytochemicals, called allyl sulfides, are found in garlic and onions. These compounds may stimulate enzymes that help the body get rid of harmful chemicals and strengthen the immune system. Some polyphenols (including some flavonoids) act as antioxidants. These are thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell’s DNA and may trigger some forms of cancer and other diseases. These compounds are commonly found in teas and in vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower. Grapes, eggplant, red cabbage, and radishes all contain anthocyanidins — flavonoids that are thought to act as antioxidants and may protect against some cancers and heart disease. Quercetin is another flavonoid that appears to have antioxidant properties and is found in apples, onions, teas, and red wine. Ellagic acid, found in raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, strawberries, and walnuts,may have anti-cancer effects. Red clover, garbanzo beans, soy, and licorice and the lignans found in flaxseed and whole grains have isoflavones that are similar to estrogens and may play a role in protecting the body against some hormonal-sensitive cancers.

Benefits of Phytochemicals are discussed below:
Soy Beans, Soy Milk, and Tofu have  Isoflavones (Genistein and
Daidzein) and may cause a reduction in blood pressure and
increased vessel dilation.
Strawberries, Red Wine,Blueberries have
Anthocyanins that cause an improvement of vision, inhibition of nitric
oxide production, induction of apoptosis (cell death), decreased platelet aggregation, and  give neuroprotective effects.
Red Wine, Grape Juice, Grape Extracts, Cocoa have
Proanthocyanidins and flavan-3-ols which cause inhibition of LDL oxidation, inhibition of  cellular oxygenases, and inhibition of proinflammatory responses in the arterial wall.
Garlic, onions, leeks, olives, scallions have sulfides and thiols that decrease  LDL cholesterol.
Carrots, tomatoes, and tomato products, and various types of fruits and vegetables have carotenoids such as lycopene and beta-carotenes which neutralize the free radicals that cause
cell damage.
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, such as kale and horseradish, have isothiocyanates(such as sulforaphane). They cause the neutralization of free radicals that cause cell damage and protection against some cancers.

  1. There is no recommended daily allowance of phytochemicals. Supplements are not proven to be helpful, but rather a balanced diet with large amounts of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are best for health.

Plant Sterols:

  • The plant kingdom has a number of sterols that are different from cholesterol by variations in chemical structure. The primarty ones are sitosterol, stigmasterol and campesterol.  sitosterol appears to lower cholesterol and inhibit the formation of atherosclerosis. Sitostanol, a saturated sitosterol derivative, reduces the absorption of cholesterol and decreases blood cholesterol. Some margarine brands started to have stanols or sterol esters added in the hopes it may decrease cholesterol.
  • There are  cholesterol-lowering alcohols in rice bran oils.
  • Sitosterols and squalene are present in both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated vegetable oils and may be responsible for some of the cholesterol-lowering effects.
  • Cafestol is a terpene present in coffee that may positively impact cholesterol levels.

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/phytochemicals < Some information about phytochemicals


The bottom line is eating fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains may reduce the risk of cancers. Its not the particular phytochemical supplement that you choose, but rather following a well diversified diet containing a variety of foods that is protective to the individual.



Insane Medicine – Eat a Rainbow of vegetables – but Red vegetables have a lot of goodies in them!!

Insane medicine - Red vegetables are in!
Insane medicine – Red vegetables are in!

red beets red cabbage tomatoe

  • It is important to paint your plate with a spectrum of vegetables – green, red, yellow, orange, purple, and white, to obtain the full nutritional effects, but red and red-orange veggies have special importance as they have been added to the 2012 dietary guidelines.
  • Red vegetables, including tomatoes, rhubarb, beets, radishes, onion, cabbage, and red peppers are packed with anti-oxidants such as lycopenes and anthocyanins, which supply the rosy color to the vegetables.
  • Lycopene is what gives tomatoes their red color and helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, and infertility.
  • People who consume high amounts of tomatoes have a lower incidence of prostate cancer.
  • Anthocyanins are a flavinoid that gives red, blue, purple, and black colors to fruits and vegetables, such as eggplants, blueberries, and radishes. They are linked to prevention of cardiovascular disease prevention, diabetes control, and obesity control.
Insane medicine - Anthocyanins give blueberries their color
Insane medicine – Anthocyanins give blueberries their color
  • Anthocyanins work to neutralize highly reactive free radicals that damage our cells and DNA. These anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory properties and are linked to cancer prevention and improved cognitive function and heart health.
  • Purple sweet potatoes have anthocyanins that protect against colorectal cancer.
  • Bilberry and blackcurrant in the diet helps protect against Alzheimer’s disease through the presence of anthocyanins.
  • Anthocyanins also lower cardiovascular disease related biomarkers.
  • Red grapes, in particular, their skins, have high amounts o f anthocyanins and resveratrol. They reduce Alzheimer’s risk, stroke , and heart disease.

Anthocyanins and plant color – those listed below with Anthocyanins:

  1. Black color: Blackberries, black beans, mission figs, currants
  2. Red: Apples, beets, blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, kidney beans, peaches, red grapes, pomegranates, red potatoes, radishes, red onions, radicchio.
  3. Blue-purple: Purple potatoes, raisins, blueberries, eggplant, plums

Remember – put a rainbow of colored vegetables and fruits on your plate, but don’t forget the red’s!!