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J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Jul 30;51(16):4539-48.

Anthocyanin glycosides from berry fruit are absorbed and excreted unmetabolized by both humans and rats.

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  • 1The Horticulture and Food Research Institute of New Zealand Ltd, Private Bag 11 030, Palmerston North, New Zealand.


Anthocyanins, the red/blue pigments found in plants, are polyphenolic compounds consumed by humans and are part of a normal diet. Recent studies have shown that anthocyanins have substantial bioactivity including antioxidant activity and therefore may have beneficial effects on human health. Anthocyanins are a group of over 500 compounds of diverse structures containing different core phenolic aglycons and conjugated with sugars in a variety of glycosylation patterns. In this study, we have investigated the bioabsorption of 15 anthocyanins with structures containing different aglycons and conjugated sugars extracted from blueberry, boysenberry, black raspberry, and blackcurrant in both humans and rats. Intact and unmetabolized anthocyanins were detected in urine of rats and humans following dosing for all molecular structures investigated, thus demonstrating that anthocyanins with diverse molecular structure and from different dietary sources are bioavailable at diet relevant dosage rates. In addition, the relative concentrations of anthocyanins detected in urine following dosing varied, indicating that differences in bioavailability are due to variations in chemical structure. Our results suggest that the nature of the sugar conjugate and the phenolic aglycon are both important determinants of anthocyanin absorption and excretion in rats and humans.

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