Anthocyanins are among the most interesting and vigorously studied plant compounds, representing a large class of over 700 polyphenolic pigments within the flavonoid family that exist ubiquitously in the human diet. They are “nature’s colors,” responsible for providing the beautiful red-orange to blue-violet hues present in many leaves, flowers, vegetables, and fruits, especially berries. The beginning of the 21st century has witnessed a renaissance in research activities on anthocyanins in several areas, mainly related to their potential health-promoting properties and their increased use as alternatives to synthetic food colors. There is increasingly convincing scientific evidence that supports both a preventative and therapeutic role of anthocyanins towards certain chronic disease states. Many anthocyanin-based extracts and juice concentrates from crop and/or food processing waste have become commercially available as colorants and/or value-added food ingredients. There is a large and evolving peer-reviewed literature on how anthocyanin chemistry and concentration may affect their coloring properties in food. Equally as important is the food matrix, which can have large impacts on anthocyanin color expression, stability and degradation, particularly regarding the applications of anthocyanins as food colorants and their health-promoting properties. This Special Edition of Foods, titled “Anthocyanins in Foods,” presents original research that extends our understanding of these exciting and complex compounds.
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