Anthocyanins are one of the six subgroups of large and widespread group of plant constituents known as flavonoids. These are responsible for the bright and attractive orange, red, purple, and blue colors of most fruits, vegetables, flowers and some cereal grains. More than 600 structurally distinct anthocyanins have been identified in nature. Earlier, anthocyanins were only known for their coloring properties but now interest in anthocyanin pigments has intensified because of their possible health benefits as dietary antioxidants, which help to prevent neuronal diseases, cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, diabetes, inflammation, and many such others diseases. Ability of anthocyanins to counter oxidants makes them atherosclerosis fighters. Therefore, anthocyanin-rich foods may help to boost overall health by offering an array of nutrients. However, the incorporation of anthocyanins into food and medical products is a challenging task due to their low stability toward environmental conditions during processing and storage. Encapsulation seems to be an efficient way to introduce such compounds into these products. Encapsulating agents act as a protector coat against ambient adverse conditions such as light, humidity, and oxygen. Encapsulated bioactive compounds are easier to handle and offer improved stability. The main objective of this review is to explore health benefits of anthocyanins and their extraction, characterization, encapsulation, and delivery.
Keywords: Anthocyanins; antioxidants; coloring agent; encapsulation; flavonoids; health benefits.