Anthocyanins are naturally occurring plant pigments that are classified as flavonoids. Anthocyanins have important antioxidant properties which may help in prevention of cancer, arthritis, and cardiovascular disease. Finding common sources and possibly increasing levels of anthocyanins in food could be important to human health. This research project determined amount and type of anthocyanins in 16 cultivars and breeding lines of cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata). The information obtained from this research project will be used to improve anthocyanin content of cowpeas by breeding. Of the 16 cultivars and breeding lines, only a black cowpea breeding line, 95-356, contained measurable levels of 3 types of anthocyanins: delphinidin, peonidin, and an unknown anthocyanin. Total anthocyanin content was 0.00242 mg·g–1, which is equal to 0.21 mg per ½-cup serving. In another study with 95-356 Rabi A. Musah, found a total anthocyanin content of 121.26 mg per serving and also found three other types of anthocyanins. The difference in the studies could be explained by the storage time of two weeks after the anthocyanins were extracted, but before they were eluded in this study. Additional studies are needed to determine if cowpeas can provide anthocyanin levels comparable to other fruits and vegetables.
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