How to fight cancer with natural food dyes

Monica Giusti’s lab budget wasn’t limitless. And the anthocyanins she studied weren’t cheap. So the OARDC scientist made her own — slashing costs 10- to 20-fold. Now newly formed Anthocyantific LLC is commercializing her patented process. Giusti serves as the company’s chief scientist.

Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that also give color to most red, orange, purple and blue fruits and vegetables. Giusti (pictured), associate professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology, is internationally known for her research on their potential as cancer-fighters and as natural food dyes.

“Most companies sell anthocyanin standards, one anthocyanin at a time. And only a small portion of the 700 anthocyanins known to exist is available as pure standards,” Giusti said. “What we produce is unique.”

Video: CFAES Communications.

The process provides a complete blend of anthocyanins from specific foods: the single primary anthocyanin from strawberries, for example, or the 15-plus anthocyanins from blueberries. Giusti hopes the new products’ availability and low cost will galvanize new research on the pigments.

“What we produce is unique.”—Monica Giusti

Antho answers

  • Giusti’s anthocyanins research has garnered more than $500,000 in private industry support since 2009. Results: Two patents, with five more pending.
  • Giusti was named Ohio State’s Early Career Innovator of the Year in 2013. She is co-editor of Anthocyanins in Health and Disease, the first book to summarize advances in research on anthocyanins’ role in disease prevention.
  • Giusti is a member of CAFFRE, Ohio State’s Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship (featured last issue), which focuses on developing health-promoting functional foods and ingredients.
  • To contact the scientist: Monica Giusti at

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