• Katie Floyd

Do Anthocyanins Have an Effect on Metabolic Syndrome?

Updated: Apr 15

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), metabolic syndrome is becoming more prevalent in the United States. Approximately 34 percent of American adults have metabolic syndrome, and the risk of developing it increases as we age (1).

The AHA defines metabolic syndrome as “a group of risk factors that raises risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other health problems.” A diagnosis is given when an individual exhibits at least three of the five risk factors (1):

- High blood glucose (sugar)

- Low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood

- High levels of triglycerides in the blood

- Large waist circumference or “apple-shaped” body

- High blood pressure

Another disease with similar risk factors is atherosclerosis. A number of research studies have provided links between metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis. One such study published in “Vascular Health and Risk Management” journal indicated that “interactions between the innate immune system with lipid-derived products seem to play a major role in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis in relation with metabolic syndrome (2).

The Mayo Clinic defines atherosclerosis as the buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances (plaque) in and on your artery walls, which can restrict blood flow (3). Atherosclerosis is a specific type of arteriosclerosis – when the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from your heart to the rest of your body (arteries) become thick and stiff (3).

A study published in Nutrition Research journal investigated the link between anthocyanins in berries and whether they exhibited anti-atherogenicity and antiplatelet activity in people with metabolic syndrome. They hypothesized that patients with metabolic syndrome (and three or more risk factors of the disease) who consumed the anthocyanin supplement would have a greater improvement in cardiometabolic biomarkers.

Anthocyanins are colored, water-soluble pigments belonging to the phenolic group and are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors found in fruits and vegetables. Fresh berries, blackcurrants, purple corn, black carrot, red cabbage, and purple potato are some examples of fruits and vegetables with high amounts of anthocyanins (4).

For this study, 55 participants, ages 25-75 years old, were split in two groups: normal, healthy individuals and individuals with metabolic syndrome. Participants were given 320 mg anthocyanin supplements twice a day for 4 weeks. Before and after participants took the supplements, several oxidative stress and cardiometabolic biomarkers were measured. These included platelet coagulant activities, lipid profiles, fasting blood glucose, and inflammatory oxidative stress biomarkers. Researchers then evaluated the atheroprotective effects of anthocyanins in the study subjects (5).

After the biomarker measurements were collected and assessed, researchers found that anthocyanin supplementation (5):

1.) Significantly decreased cardiometabolic risk factors including the average fasting blood glucose (by 13.3%) and a significant reduction in triglycerides (by 24.9%) and LDL-C (by 33.1%) in the metabolic syndrome group.

2.) Decreased high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) level by 28% in women.

3.) Decreased ADP-induced platelet activation configuration expressed as P-selectin by 40%.

4.) Produced a positive correlation between decreased high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) values and the levels of LDL-C and fasting blood glucose in the metabolic syndrome group.

These results supported the researchers’ initial hypothesis that “anthocyanin supplementation exerts anti-atherogenicity effects by improving cardiometabolic risk factors and reducing thrombogenicity in the metabolic syndrome population (5).”

The original study can be found here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0271531719310875?via%3Dihub


(1) About Metabolic Syndrome. (July 31, 2016). American Heart Association. https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome/about-metabolic-syndrome

(2) Mathieu, P., Pibarot, P., & Després, J. P. (2006). Metabolic syndrome: the danger signal in atherosclerosis. Vascular health and risk management, 2(3), 285-302. https://doi.org/10.2147/vhrm.2006.2.3.285

(3) Arteriosclerosis/atherosclerosis. (April 24, 2018). Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/arteriosclerosis-atherosclerosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20350569

(4) Khoo, H. E., Azlan, A., Tang, S. T., & Lim, S. M. (2017). Anthocyanidins and anthocyanins: colored pigments as food, pharmaceutical ingredients, and the potential health benefits. Food & nutrition research, 61(1), 1361779. https://doi.org/10.1080/16546628.2017.1361779

(5) Aboonabi, A., Meyer, R., Gaiz, A., & Singh, I. (2020). Anthocyanins in berries exhibited anti-atherogenicity and antiplatelet activities in a metabolic syndrome population. Nutrition Research. 76. 82-93. 10.1016/j.nutres.2020.02.011.

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