Anthocyanin-rich beverages have shown beneficial effects on coronary heart disease in epidemiological and intervention studies. In the present study, we investigated the effect of black currant anthocyanins on atherosclerosis. Watanabe Heritable Hyperlipidemic rabbits (n = 61) were fed either a purified anthocyanin fraction front black currants, a black currant juice, probucol or control diet for 16 weeks. Purified anthocyanins significantly increased plasma cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Intake of black currant juice had no effect on total plasma cholesterol, but lowered very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol significantly. There were no significant effects of either purified anthocyanins or black currant juice on aortic cholesterol or development of atherosclerosis after 16 weeks. Probucol had no effect on plasma cholesterol but significantly lowered VLDL-cholesterol and decreased aortic cholesterol accumulation. The erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme glutathione peroxidase was significantly increased by purified anthocyanins and superoxide dismutase was increased by both anthocyanin-containing treatments. Other markers of plasma antioxidant capacity, antioxidant enzymes, protein and lipid oxidation were not affected by any of the anthocyanin treatments. Adverse effects of purified anthocyanins were observed on plasma- and LDL-cholesterol. These effects were not observed with black currant juice, suggesting that black currants may contain components reducing the adverse effects of anthocyanins.
Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, 2005, Vol 49, Issue 4, p. 301-308