The acceptance of foods is influenced by their colour. Colourants have been used in the food industry for millennia to improve or at least restore the original appearance of foods, as well as to assure uniformity and as a quality indication. Color is the first element that the senses pick up on. Synthetic colourants have always been a subject of conflict over their safety. Natural colourants are preferred over synthetic colourants by consumers, who are increasingly concerned about the safety of synthetic colourants. As a result of both governmental action and consumer awareness, interest in natural colourants has risen dramatically. Many of these synthetic colourants might be replaced with anthocyanins, which have a lot of potential. Anthocyanins (Greek: Anthos = flower, kianos = blue) are a type of pigment found in a wide range of plants (Table 1). Anthocyanins are phenolic compounds that belong to the flavonoids family and have two benzene rings connected by a three-carbon linear chain with the basic skeleton C6–C3–C6. There have been over 600 distinct anthocyanins and their substituents described. Anthocyanins are generated when glycosyl and aromatic or aliphatic acyl moieties are added to anthocyanidins. They can be found in the leaves, flowers, and fruits of plants. Anthocyanins are a family of pigments that come in a variety of colours, particularly purple, red, blue, and orange. They influence the colour quality of both fresh and processed fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based commodities. In the vacuolar fluid of epidermal cells, anthocyanins are generally uniformly dissolved. Because of their colouring capabilities, anthocyanin-rich extracts are becoming more popular in the food sector as natural alternatives to synthetic FD&C colours and lakes. They are non-toxic and water soluble, making them easier to incorporate into food systems. As a result, they have a lot of potential as a natural water-soluble colourant.

Anthocyanins from selected plant source

The aglycon form of anthocyanins, commonly known as anthocyanidin, has hydroxyl and methoxyl groups in different places and is structurally based on the flavylium ion or 2-phenylbenzopyrilium. Several dozen distinct anthocyanidins have been described in publications, depending on the amount and position of the hydroxyl and methoxyl substituents, six of which are regularly found in fruits and vegetables.

Basic Anthocyanin Structure
Fig 1: Basic Anthocyanin Structure


Anthocyanins are phenolic chemicals that belong to the flavonoid family and are responsible for the colour of flower petals and fruits from a wide range of plants, as well as the colour of products made from colourful vegetable matrices such as wine. Anthocyanins have two benzene rings connected by a three-carbon linear chain (C2, C3, C4), as seen in Figure 1. This indicates that they have a C6–C3–C6 fundamental skeleton. Anthocyanins are anthocyanidins with glycoside moieties generated from flavylium or 2-phenylbenzopyrilium cations. Six anthocyanidins found in nature are cyanidin, delphinidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, petunidin, and malvidin and they are the most abundant and widespread (Figure 2). Since, anthocyanins are polar in nature, they are soluble in polar solvents including methanol, ethanol, and water. This is why solvents of this type are used in the majority of extraction techniques. To stabilize anthocyanins in the flavylium cation, these solvents are acidified. The amount of –OH moieties in the molecule, the degree of methylation of –OH moieties, the kind and number of the sugar moiety connected to the aglycone molecule, and the specific position of these attachments all contribute to structural differences in anthocyanins. Furthermore, the quantity of anthocyanins varies depending on the source in which they are found.



Anthocyanins Chemistry

Role Of Anthocyanins In Human Health

Anthocyanins have strong anti-oxidant properties, which aid in the prevention of neurological illnesses, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and a range of other diseases. Anthocyanins are thought to help with cancer treatment and human nutrition. They’re thought to work by stopping cell division between the S and G2 phases of the cell cycle, decreasing tumour growth. Because of their ability to battle oxidants, anthocyanins are anti-atherosclerosis fighters. Anthocyanins have been shown to relax blood vessels and protect endothelial cells that line the insides of blood vessels from injury. Anthocyanins have been shown to relax blood vessels and protect endothelial cells that line the insides of blood vessels from injury. Strawberry has been shown in animal experiments to have an inhibitory effect on oesophageal cancer and to reverse neurological and behavioural ageing. The anthocyanin content of strawberries has been connected to their medicinal properties. Allergy relief, a healthier heart, enhanced eyesight, ulcer treatment, and cognitive function are some of the other health benefits of anthocyanins. They’ve been discovered to be beneficial and can be used in the treatment of a variety of disorders caused by capillary fragility. Preventing cholesterol-induced atherosclerosis and reducing platelet aggregation are two examples. As a result of the intriguing colour and health benefits, scientists are investigating the natural potential of anthocyanins. In the literature, there are numerous reports on anthocyanin purification and separation techniques, food applications of anthocyanins, identification and distribution of anthocyanins in plants, stability, quantitative analysis using chromatographic and electrophoretic techniques and their degradation kinetics.


Anthocyanins are pigments found naturally in many fruits, vegetables and cereals. They provide a number of health benefits in addition to possessing colouring capabilities. However, they remain particularly sensitive to environmental conditions during manufacturing and storage. Anthocyanins are high-value colourants that can help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, several metabolic diseases, and microbial infections.









About the Authors:
1. Mehvish Habib
Research Scholar
Department of Food Technology,
Jamia Hamdard University
New Delhi, India
2. Kulsum Jan
Assistant Professor,
Department of Food Technology,
Jamia Hamdard University
New Delhi, India
3. Khalid Bashir
Assistant Professor,
Department of Food Technology,
Jamia Hamdard University
New Delhi, India
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