Unraveling Anthocyanin Bioavailability for Human Health

Mary Ann Lila, Britt Burton-Freeman, Mary Grace, Wilhelmina Kalt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This review considers the bioavailability of health-protective anthocyanin pigments from foods, in light of the multiple molecular structures and complicated traffic patterns taken by anthocyanins both as flavonoid metabolites and as phenolic acid metabolites within the body. Anthocyanins have generally been considered to have notoriously poor bioavailability, based on the very low levels typically detected in routine human blood draws after ingestion. Although some investigations have assessed anthocyanin bioavailability solely based on the measurement of parent anthocyanins or phenolic acid breakdown products, more recent research has increasingly revealed the presence, qualitative diversity, relatively high concentrations, and tenacity of molecular intermediates of anthocyanins that retain the unique flavonoid C6-C3-C6 backbone structure. We argue that the persistence of anthocyanin metabolites suggests enterohepatic recycling, leading to prolonged residence time, and supports the notion that anthocyanins are far more bioavailable than previously suggested.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)375-393
Number of pages19
JournalAnnual Review of Food Science and Technology
StatePublished - Feb 28 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Anthocyanin metabolites
  • Bioaccessibility
  • Enterohepatic recycling
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • Phenolic acid metabolites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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