Cyanidin 3-glucoside (c3g) is a natural pigment found in a variety of dark-colored fruits, plants, and vegetables. Dietary sources and extracts of c3g are growing in popularity as they act as strong antioxidants, reduce inflammation, may prevent type II diabetes, and fight cancer. Read on to learn more about the health benefits of c3g with dosage and genetics.
What is Cyanidin 3-glucoside?
Also known as chrysanthemin – not to be confused with the chrysanthemum flower – cyanidin 3-glucoside is a member of the anthocyanin family of pigments. Anthocyanins are odorless and can appear blue, red, or black, depending on the acidity of the plant tissues. These are the same pigments that cause leaves to change color in the fall .
Cyanidin 3-glucoside occurs naturally in blueberries, acai, and black soybean among many other plants. Animal and human cell studies suggest strong antioxidant and potential anti-diabetic properties. C3g may also help fight a variety of different cancers, promote bone, heart, and liver health, and manage metabolic syndrome.
How It Works
The mechanism of action of cyanidin 3-glucoside is still an active area of research. Experiments confirm that the molecule acts as a powerful antioxidant. Cyanidin 3-glucoside may protect the heart and blood vessels by reducing oxidative stress [2, 3, 4, 5].
C3g protects the cells by preventing them from losing charge (by blocking pathways that facilitate cell intake of calcium). It increases the survival of brain cells and protects brain tissue (by triggering the release of zinc ions) [2, 6, 6].
Anthocyanin extracts increase the activity of proteins in fat tissues that are involved in burning fat. One of these proteins (UCP-2) is currently being researched as a potential genetic marker and treatment target for type-II diabetes [7, 8].
People who are Th2 dominant experience hyperactive immune symptoms in the form of excessive allergic reactions. Cyanidin 3-glucoside decreases Th2 response by suppressing its related immune signals (IL-4 transcription). This suggests that c3g may help rebalance immune systems to reduce allergic reactions .
Activation of Cyanidin 3-glucoside
The most common anthocyanin in many plants, such as black raspberries, is cyanidin 3-rutinoside. It needs to be activated by specific enzymes to cyanidin 3-glucoside in order to be used in the body .
Digestion of Cyanidin 3-glucoside
Cyanidin 3-glucoside enters the bloodstream from the gut, but it’s uncertain to what extent. Some suggest that less than 1% can be used by the body. It might, in fact, be broken down into other active compounds, which are yet to be discovered [11, 12].
C3g digestion was enhanced in one study in the presence of human gut bacteria in rats, compared to rats without gut bacteria. This suggests that our natural intestinal environment provides an advantage for digesting c3g .
Health Benefits of Cyanidin 3-glucoside
1) May Help with Diabetes
Cyanidin 3-glucoside may help prevent diabetes. For prediabetic symptoms, it had the following effects (in animal studies):
- Reduced fat tissue and cells in diabetic mice with high blood fat levels. C3g increased fat cell differentiation, which is otherwise deficient in diabetes .
- Decreased fasting blood glucose in diabetic mice. It also reduced diabetic complications in mice, such as damage to the kidneys, liver, and pancreas .
- Decreased insulin resistance, increased insulin secretion, and decreased blood glucose levels after meals in treated groups, according to a meta-analysis of rodent studies .
These results point to c3g as a promising supplement for preventing diabetes and improving symptoms.
Pancreas cells are destroyed in type I diabetes, while type II diabetes is caused by insulin resistance and can develop from prediabetes. In mouse cells, c3g prevented early-onset symptoms of diabetes by making fat cells more sensitive to insulin and increasing the energy-burning activity of muscles .
Cyanidin 3-glucoside reduced cell death in mouse pancreatic cells in an environment simulating the oxidative stress in diabetes. In a separate experiment, c3g increased insulin secretion in high glucose conditions in the same cell line [17, 18].
2) May Protect the Heart and Blood Vessels
The cholesterol-lowering effect of c3g could help prevent diseases related to high cholesterol levels, such as clogged arteries (atherosclerosis) .
A study on diabetic rats showed fewer molecular indicators of health complications arising from heart damage in the group treated with cyanidin 3-glucoside compared to controls .
C3g blocked the processes that lead to clogging (such as platelet grouping and the formation of thrombus) when applied to human blood platelets from healthy men and women .
3) May Improve Metabolic Syndrome
People with metabolic syndrome usually have high blood fat levels, increased belly fat, and higher glucose levels and blood pressure, putting them at high risk for numerous diseases. A study on rats showed that c3g reversed symptoms of metabolic syndrome [22, 23].
4) May Protect the Liver
5) Is An Antioxidant
Anthocyanin extracts from purple wheat (including cyanidin 3-glucoside) showed high antioxidant activity .
6) Reduces Inflammation
Chronic inflammation is linked to many different health complications — from the formation of tumors to autoimmune disorders and infectious diseases — that it has prompted research into the “inflammation theory of disease”; reducing inflammation may improve many common diseases .
In inflammatory bowel disease, localized inflammation affects intestinal cells. C3g reduced inflammation in intestinal cells (both human and animal). This may be expected in humans since part of c3g remains in the gut after ingestion [26, 27, 4].
7) May Help Prevent and Fight Cancer
Anthocyanins are under investigation for their cancer-fighting effects. Cyanidin 3-glucoside may fight skin, colon, brain, and lung cancer. According to cell studies, c3g:
- Reduced DNA damage in human skin cell exposed to a cancer-causing pollutant 
- Reduced cancerous growth in human colon cancer cells more than other similar compounds .
- Killed 40% of aggressive human brain tumor cells .
- Cyanidin 3-glucoside decreased the spreading of human lung cancer cells (by reducing proteins responsible for cancerous growth) .
8) May Protect the Brain
Cyanidin 3-glucoside increased survival of rat brain cells under conditions similar to stroke (oxygen and glucose deprivation), where insufficient blood flow poses a danger to brain cells. C3g may be able to protect the brain in such condition .
9) May Help Strengthen Bones
Cyanidin 3-glucoside activated human bone cells involved in bone growth and healing while blocking the activity of bone-destructive cells. This suggests that c3g may be beneficial for treating and improving bone-related diseases, such as osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis .
10) May Reduce Allergies
Cyanidin 3-glucoside reduced Th2 dominant allergic immune responses a study in human cells .
11) May Reduce Damage from H. Pylori
Helicobacter Pylori is a bacteria that can lead to a host of digestive problems, including ulcers and stomach cancer. One study found that cyanidin 3-glucoside reduces cell death in human stomach cells affected by H. Pylori by blocking the release of toxins triggered by it [34, 35].
12) May Improve Night Vision
A study on frog eye cells found that cyanidin 3-glucoside stimulates the regeneration of rhodopsin, a protein found in cells that enables night vision in humans (rod cells) .
Limitations and Caveats
There is an absence of large-scale human clinical trials on cyanidin 3-glucoside. Because of this, findings from animal and cell studies may not translate into the same health benefits in humans. More studies are needed before they can be recommended for treating diseases .
It’s uncertain what the ideal dose of c3g would be, as studies in overweight and diabetic mice administered c3g via diet (at about 1 g c3g / 1 lb food) .
Side Effects & Precautions
Anthocyanins are present in many commonly consumed fruits. They are safe and no health risks are known. Extracts with cyanidin 3-glucoside were well tolerated in a study of 12 human subjects, without any related adverse reactions .
Cyanidin 3-glucoside’s antioxidant effects were reduced by the anthocyanin Pelargonidin, which is present in multiple types of berries, such as strawberries .
C3g and other anthocyanins may interfere with chemotherapy drugs by either increasing or decreasing their activity .
Low doses of statins and c3g can potentially be combined for enhanced treatment of atherosclerosis .
When combined with immune cancer therapy, trastuzumab, c3g was enhanced antitumor activity .
Genetics of Cyanidin 3-glucoside
Cyanidin 3-glucoside may increase the activity of beneficial insulin-regulated glucose transporter, GLUT4. Increased GLUT4 activity helps the body reduce glucose levels after a meal, and becomes less efficient in diabetes .
At the same time, c3g also reduces another harmful protein (RBP4), which may worsen diabetes. Dietary c3g turned “off” this protein in diabetic mice, reducing glucose levels and increasing response to insulin .
Cyanidin 3-glucoside Supplementation
Although cyanidin 3-glucoside occurs naturally in many berries, it is also available as a supplement in the form of capsules and soft gels. Black bean extract is a common source for many commercially available supplements. C3g doses range from 30mg to 600 mg.
Animal studies administered high daily doses of cyanidin 3-glucoside, which would be equivalent to 700 mg daily for a person weighing about 150 lbs (anti-diabetic effects) up to 2000 mg per day (for liver health). None of these have been confirmed in human studies [21, 24].
It’s unlikely to receive such high doses of cyanidin 3-glucoside from natural sources like acai or raspberries, although the health benefits of including fruits and berries into your diet are worth considering. Supplements are necessary to receive higher doses.
Reviews for the product are mixed without reports of negative side effects. Many supplement users seek out Cyanidin 3-glucoside to increase muscle mass, endurance and boost weight loss. Some users express positive results, while others are not convinced that c3g made any observable difference.