Anthocyanins are dietary flavonoids commonly consumed in the diet, which have been suggested to have a preventative effect on cardiovascular disease (CVD) development among epidemiological studies. We systematically reviewed randomized controlled trials (RCTs) testing the effects of purified anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich extracts on markers of CVD (triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and blood pressure) in both healthy and diseased populations. Eligible studies included RCTs of adults published in English. We searched PubMed, Web of Science Core Collection, and BIOSIS Previews for relevant articles from inception until 1 July 2014. Twelve RCTs representing 10 studies were included in this review. Supplementation with anthocyanins significantly improved LDL cholesterol among diseased individuals or those with elevated biomarkers. Supplementation did not significantly affect other markers of CVD in either healthy individuals or those with elevated markers. No adverse effects of anthocyanins were reported across studies at levels up to 640 mg/day. Limitations of trials in the qualitative analyses include short trial duration and large variability in the dose administered within the trials. Longer-duration trials assessing dose response are needed to adequately determine whether an effect of supplementation exists.
Keywords: LDL cholesterol; anthocyanins; cardiovascular disease.