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Berry Compounds Anthocyanins Help Type 2 Diabetes

berry compounds anthocyanins help type 2 diabetes

Compounds found in berries as well as other fruits, vegetables, and some grains, have been tested in humans and appear to be helpful in type 2 diabetes. The berry compounds, known as anthocyanins, are potent antioxidants that have a positive impact on factors involved in this common disease.


The pigments that are responsible for the red, purple, and blue colors of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and cereal grains are one class of flavonoid substances. Rich sources of anthocyanins include berries (e.g., blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries), cherries, red cabbage, and purple grapes.

Scientists have been studying the health advantages of anthocyanins for many years, including their potential benefits for type 2 diabetes. Much of the research has reported on the effects in animal models, while this new study focused on humans.

Anthocyanin study
During the 24-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 58 individuals with type 2 diabetes took either 160 mg of anthocyanins twice daily or a placebo. The 320 mg daily dose was equivalent to about 100 grams of blueberries or black currants.

Here’s what the authors found when they compared the anthocyanin supplement with placebo:

  • 7.9% decline in bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein, LDL)
  • 23% decline in triglyceride levels
  • 19.4 rise in good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein, HDL)
  • 8.5% decline in fasting plasma glucose levels
  • 13% decline in insulin resistance
  • 23.4% rise in adiponectin levels. Adiponectin is a hormone released from fat cells. It plays an important role in regulating insulin sensitivity and energy.
  • 42.4% decline in beta-hydroxybutyrate, a substance which, although not a ketone, is elevated in individuals who have ketosis and can help indicate diabetic ketoacidosis.

Why this study is important
The authors indicated that their findings are important because they support data previously observed only in cell and rodent models. Thus this study demonstrated that “anthocyanins have the potential to improve metabolic health in subjects at risk of developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome.”

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More specifically, the authors pointed out that the rate of cardiovascular disease declines by nearly 1 percent for every 1 percent drop in LDL and by 1 percent for each 1 percent rise in HDL. Therefore, the results of this study suggest a nearly 27.3 percent decline in coronary artery disease risk.

Another report just published in Reviews of Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders also reflect positive findings. The authors point out that “Epidemiological studies suggest that increased consumption of anthocyanins lowers the risk of T2DM” and that many studies “also reveal an array of mechanisms through which anthocyanins could prevent or reverse obesity—and T2DM-related pathologies.”

Should you consider taking anthocyanin supplements and/or including more berries and other foods rich in these flavonoids in your diet if you have type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome? The findings of this study and dozens of others suggest there could be a benefit to doing so.

Also Read: 8 reasons women should eat berries

Guo H, Ling W. The update of anthocyanins on obesity and type 2 diabetes: experimental evidence and clinical perspectives. Reviews of Endocrine & Metabolic Disorders 2015 Jan 4
Li D et al. Purified anthocyanin supplementation reduces dyslipidemia, enhances antioxidant capacity, and prevents insulin resistance in diabetic patients. Journal of Nutrition 2014 Feb 4 online

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