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What is Blackcurrant?

Blackcurrants have long been regarded as having remarkable health benefits. Early European folklore has blackcurrants being used for treating general fatigue, arthritis, kidney stones, gout, inflammation of the mouth, stomach and bowel, lung and cough aliments, and as a diuretic.
Recent scientific research from eight clinical trials has shown direct effects of Blackcurrants on health and well being. A clinical trial is a comparison test of a treatment versus a placebo (inactive look-a-like), and provides the most compelling evidence that the treatment causes the expected effect on human health.
We now know that it is the high concentrations of anthocyanins, other antioxidants and bioactives in blackcurrants that give these fruit their wonderful properties.
Recent work has shown that the anthocyanins contained in blackcurrants can be seen as free radical “scavengers” capable of combating the ageing of blood vessel walls. In addition, blackcurrant berries are often used for their phlebotonic properties. Vitamin C and anthocyanins increase the strength of capillaries and reduce their permeability, thus improving microcirculation. Blackcurrant can also be used to improve circulation, particularly in the legs. The anthocyanins contained in blackcurrant also help to combat problems associated with work on screens (visual fatigue). Lastly, blackcurrant is recognised and used for draining uric acid. 
A summary of the health benefits that have been studied during these clinical trials is outlined here, for more detailed information on the results please click here.
Subjects consumed anthocyanin (100mg) equivalent to two tablespoons of blackcurrant berries.
→ Anthocyanin content of plasma reached a maximum after 1 hour, and decreased to 50% by 4 hours.
→ After 1 hour the forearm blood flow increased significantly (about 40%) compared to placebo.
In another study 50mg of anthocyanin was shown to improve blood circulation in cold hands.
→ Hands were soaked in cold water at 10°C for 1 minute. For subjects who had consumed blackcurrants hand temperature returned to normal after 7 minutes, compared to 13 minutes for the placebo group.
 A 2009 New Zealand study looked at the effectiveness of blackcurrant to augment the ability of regular exercise to enhance the immune responsiveness of the body.
Subjects consumed blackcurrant capsules, pre and post exercise equivalent to about 1/3 cup berries, for three weeks.
-significantly lower levels of bio markers of oxidative stress in plasma.
-significantly increased ability of plasma to suppress inflammatory responses.
Blackcurrants reduce muscle stiffness by increasing peripheral blood flow and reducing muscle fatigue.
Subjects consumed anthocyanin (50mg) equivalent to one tablespoon of blackcurrant berries and carried out keyboard work for 30 minutes.
→Total haemoglobin was significantly higher (about 40%) in the blackcurrant intake group. Oxygenated haemoglobin was significantly higher in the blackcurrant intake group.
→There was significant stiffening of the trapezius (shoulder) muscle during typing in the placebo but not the blackcurrant intake group. However, final stiffness was not significantly different between the two.
Anthocyanins from berry and grape extracts had a positive effect on chronic musculo skeletal pain (fibromyalgia). Subjects consumed anthocyanin powders for three months with the following significant effects:
→Reduced fatigue.
→Reduced sleep disturbance.
→Increased general health.
Increased intake of blackcurrant and orange juice decreased vascular inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular disorder.
A daily drink of 250 mls of blackcurrant juice and 250 mls of orange juice gave highly significant results after four weeks.
-11% decrease in C-reactive protein.
-3% decrease fibrinogen.
Lower levels of both markers indicate lower risk.
The eye takes approximately 30 minutes to fully adapt from bright sunlight to complete darkness and become one million times more sensitive than at full daylight.
→ Subjects consumed the equivalent of one tablespoon of blackcurrant berries or less.
→ Dark adaptation was significantly improved at the highest level of 50 mg anthocyanin, and two hours after consumption.
In another study, the same dose of blackcurrants was shown to greatly reduce visual fatigue following prolonged Visual Display Terminal work 2 hours after consumption.
Consumption of 330 ml Blackcurrant juice daily for five days increased the
→ urinary pH
→ excretion of citric acid
→ excretion of oxalic acid.
This observation suggests that regular blackcurrant consumption could reduce the likelihood of kidney stone development as persistently low urinary pH is a significant factor for uric acid kidney stone formation.
In another study residents of a nursing home were given a daily glass of blackcurrant juice for 3 months. Residents reported reduced symptoms of urinary scalding, urgency and odour. Staff noted improvements in white cell count on urinalysis and reduced likelihood of recurrent urinary tract infection over a three month period.
Matsumoto, H., Takenami, E., Iwasaki-Kurashige, K., Osado, T., Katsumura, T., Hamaoka, T. Effects of blackcurrant anthocyanin intake on peripheral muscle circulation during typing work in humans. European journal applied physiology  94: 36-45 2005.
Nakaishi, H., Matsumoto, H.,  Tominaga,S., Hirayama, M. Effects of blackcurrant anthocyanoside intake on dark adaptation and VDT work induced transient refractive alteration in healthy humans. 
Alternative medicine review  5: 553-562 2000.
Takenami,E. Kurashige,K.I. Matsumoto, H. Honma,T. Osada, T. Okubo, M. Hamaoka,T. Improvement of cold water immersion induced circulation impairment by blackcurrant extract intake-the investigation on cold constitutional women. The journal of the japanese society of thermology 23, 194-201 2004.
Kebler, T.; Jansen, B.; Hesse, A. Effect of blackcurrant, cranberry and plum juice consumption on risk factors associated with kidney stone formation. European journal of clinical nutrition 56: 1020-1023 2002.
Boyle, L.; Martin, J.; Tilley A.; Ager, C.; Payne, B. Study of use of Blackcurrant Juice
in Nursing Home Residents to Alleviate Urinary Infection and Associated Problems. Aged care Unit, Julia Farr Services, Flinders University Australia Nov 1996
Dalgard,C., Nielsen, F., Morrow, J.D., Enghusen-Poulsen,H., Jonung,T., Hørder, M., de Maat, M.P.M
Supplementation with orange and blackcurrant juice, but not vitamin E, improves inflammatory markers in patients with peripheral arterial disease. BRITISH JOURNAL OF NUTRITION 2009 101, 263-269.
Lyall, K. A., Hurst, S. M., Cooney, J., Jensen, D., Lo, K., Hurst, R. D., Stevenson L. M. Short-term blackcurrant extract consumption modulates exercise-induced oxidative stress and lipopolysaccharide-stimulated inflammatory responses. AM J PHYSIOL REGUL INTEGR COMP PHYSIOL 2009.297: 70-81.
Edwards,A.M., Blackburn, L., Townsend, S., David, J.
Food supplements in the treatment of primary fibromyalgia: a double-blind, crossover trial of anthocyanidins and placebo. JOURNAL OF NUTRITIONAL & ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE 2000 10, 189-199.



A Berry Good Memory




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Feb 22, 2006

A basket of berries may be a good way to boost your memory.

In a recent study, researchers discovered that the extracts of certain berries helped combat oxidative stress and DNA damage, both of which play roles in the development of Alzheimer's disease. The researchers studied extracts from blackcurrants and boysenberries, two kinds of berries high in potent disease-fighting anthocyanins.

Blackcurrants are small, juicy, dark purple berries that are high in vitamin C and have a slightly bitter taste. Boysenberries are genetically similar to blackcurrants. Both berry types are rich in anthocyanins, potent disease-fighting antioxidants. Fruits high in anthocyanins tend to have deep red or purple hues. In a recent study, researchers discovered that both blackcurrant and boysenberry extracts helped combat oxidative stress and DNA damage, two processes that contribute to Alzheimer's disease, cancer, and aging. Although the study results are preliminary and need to be confirmed with further research, antioxidant-rich fruits remain a smart food choice. Eat a colorful assortment of different fruits and vegetables to get a healthy mix of disease-fighting compounds every day.



Why blackcurrants are good for you

Blackcurrants are packed with vitamin C and micronutrients – they're Britain's very own superfood.

• Try our blackcurrant and lemon posset recipe

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o    Joanna Blythman and Rosie Sykes

o    The Guardian, Friday 19 July 2013

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Good for you: blackcurrants

Blackcurrants: three times more vitamin C than oranges... Photograph: Joerg Lehmann/Getty Images/StockFood

Blackcurrants are much too good to be relegated to jams and cordials. In all their purple might, they have an intensely punchy flavour, unmatched even by damsons or raspberries. And while those ubiquitous blueberries often disappoint, blackcurrants always deliver. Just a handful brings colour and a tangy tart edge to everything from summer pudding to creamy fool. One blackcurrant leaf adds a blousy perfume to a glass of chilled Pimm's.

It's criminal that fresh British blackcurrants are given so little retail shelf space during their season. They only need a quick pick over, and the results are an ample reward. The ready-to-use frozen sort is not to be sniffed at, either. Blackcurrants freeze well and make a fantastic, near instant compote. They're wonderful in porridge too.

Why are blackcurrants good for me?
Blackcurrants contain sumptuously rich levels of health-promoting micronutrients, even compared with other "superfood" berries. They are an exceptionally rich source of vitamin C – containing three times more than oranges – and natural phenolic compounds, notably anthocyanins. This winning combination appears to bestow an anti-inflammatory effect, promoting cardiovascular and brain health, and offering some protection against age-related eye problems. Some research suggests the phenolic compounds help prevent urinary tract infections and relieve the symptoms.



Blackcurrants are the berry best fruit for you

Last updated at 22:41 18 June 2007


It may not be as fashionable as its more exotic cousins but the humble blackcurrant is the healthiest fruit of all.

Research shows that the common or garden blackcurrant is more nutritious than other fruits, from home-grown apples and strawberries to tropical mangoes and bananas.

Blackcurrants also contain the highest levels of health-boosting antioxidants - natural compounds credited with the ability to stave off a range of illnesses from heart disease to cancer.

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Blackcurrants: Better than goji berries, blueberries, or any of the other so-called superfruits


·         How the Atkins diet could increase your risk of bowel cancer

Researcher Dr Derek Stewart said his findings, which come amid a growing appetite for exotic berries, colourful juices and other superfoods, prove the British blackcurrant is the healthiest fruit of all.

Dr Stewart, who came to his conclusion after comparing the properties of 20 popular fruits, said: "The motivation for the research came from the huge publicity surrounding superfoods, coupled with lack of consumer knowledge.

"We wanted to find out which fruit came out on top.

"The combined beneficial composition and impact in health-related studies mean that blackcurrants can claim to be the number one superfruit."

Dr Stewart reached his conclusions by analysing the findings of dozens of research papers published by other scientists.

Lack of published data on fruits which have only recently become popular, such as raisin-sized goji berries, means they could not be included in the analysis.

Fruits studied ranged from old favourites such as apples and oranges, to blueberries, pomegranates and others that have recently been feted as being especially good for health.

Blackcurrants were found to be the most nutritious, followed by blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates.

The blackcurrant also come out top in terms of anti-oxidants. Next highest levels were found in raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Pomegranates took fifth place once more.

The tests, carried out at the Scottish Crop Research Institute near Dundee, showed that blackcurrants are particularly rich in a type of anti-oxidant called anthocyanins.

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fruit health wheel

Green is best, red is worst for nutrients. In figures (from outer to inner circle): the percentage daily allowance of energy, fibre, vit c, vit b2, vit e, vit k, calcium and iron

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Responsible for the fruit's dark colour, the compounds are said to help ward off a range of ailments including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes.

The blackcurrant's health benefits have been apparent for some time, with herbalists using them since the middle-ages to treat bladder stones, liver disorders and coughs.

The currants' high vitamin C content led to them being made into a cordial which was given free to children during the Second World War.

Jo Hilditch, of the British Blackcurrant Foundation, said the latest findings should give shoppers an added incentive to buy British.

She said: "I have always believed in fruit, and indeed any produce, that is grown on our doorsteps to be the best for us and this research definitely confirms this.

"British blackcurrants are a nutritional powerhouse and prove that British is best in this case.

"The current celebrity trends for exotic fruits has catapulted the word superfruit into the limelight but this research shows that we don't need to go to the ends of earth to find health boosting fruits."

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-462802/Blackcurrants-berry-best-fruit-you.html#ixzz2aXOLFUCT 
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Black Currant—Not Just Another Berry

Written by  Dallas Clouatre, PhD

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http://totalhealthmagazine.com/images/articles/black_currant_dallas_clouatre.jpgIn this age of marketing of new fruits of every stripe—“super,” “exotic,” “rainforest,” etc. — it is easy to overlook the fact the best of the fruits for many purposes may be those long known. Bilberry is a good example. Black currant is another. Also called the cassis berry (Ribes nigrum), black currant offers many benefits similar to those found with bilberry and blueberry. Indeed, the list of benefits is quite impressive and includes brain, digestive and eye health along with positive influences in the areas of asthma and overall lung function, colds and flu, and women’s health.

The black currant is a small shrub standing up to six feet tall. It grows in Europe, European Asia, North America and, as a cultivated crop, is especially well represented in New Zealand. The berry comes in vivid shades of deep red, purple and black. It is quite small, being similar is size to the bilberry, and is similarly nutrient dense. It is particularly high in anthocyanins, which are the purple-black pigments that color the skin of the black currant, giving it its name. Anthocyanins are powerful plant or phyto-antioxidants. In addition to the anthocyanins found primarily in the skin, black currant by way of its seeds is a rich source of both the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). The origin of the fruit can have a strong bearing on its nutrient content. New Zealand’s pristine conditions and mineral-rich environment combined with its elevated exposure to ultraviolet light results in black currants that exceed the fruit grown in other areas in terms of anthocyanin content. The protective delphinidin-3-rutinoside constitutes 40 percent of the total anthocyanin content of the New Zealand fruit. Black currant also is a source of proanthocyanidins, compounds more commonly associated with grape seed and pine bark extracts.

Brain Health
Today, approximately a third of Americans are over the age of 50 and individuals over the age of eighty-five may make up the fastest growing segment of the population. The “Baby Boom” generation can expect to liver longer than its parents, but with this comes certain challenges. At least nine million Americans currently exhibit sub-clinical cognitive impairment and approximately 14–15 percent of all individuals over the age of sixty-five suffer from some form of age-related dementia.

Epidemiology studies, including both regional incidence and the analysis of specific risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, indicate that substantial prevention of the disease in the 50 –70 percent range is a practical possibility for the United States. Brain aging, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, should not be viewed as if it takes place separately from the deterioration of other bodily systems. It long has been established that elevated blood sugar levels, which is to say, diabetes and pre-diabetes, are linked to the rate of various forms of dementia. Glycation, a deleterious form of modification of protein and lipid macromolecules in which a sugar inappropriately binds to the molecules, has been linked to diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s as well as physiological aging more generally. Therefore, controlling weight and preventing blood sugar spikes are candidate courses of action for anyone seriously interested in preventing dementias.

Although we have grown accustomed to blaming cholesterol for almost any condition, cholesterol is linked to Alzheimer’s disease only when certain contributors to oxidative stress are present. Such findings corroborate the hardly novel observation that only twenty percent of Americans eat the recommended five-a-day fruits and vegetables: it is phytonutrients from the diet that typically control free radical-inducing conditions.

This is where black currant enters the picture. Certain areas of the brain, such as the areas that involves the neurotransmitter dopamine, are particularly vulnerable to oxidative damage, in part as a result of the neurotransmitter itself. This damage is significant in the manifestation of Alzheimer’s disease and is associated with reduced dopamine levels. Perhaps surprisingly, dopamine inhibits the formation of amyloidbeta peptide fibrils. Researchers have found anthocyanins are powerful protectors against oxidative stressors, with whole fruit extracts more powerful than single fractions. James Joseph of Tufts has been quoted to the effect that black currant is effective in increasing dopamine levels, which are low in Alzheimer’s patients. Dilip Gosh of HortResearch, New Zealand, has performed related research that suggests the ability of brain cells to control calcium concentrations is central to their ability to recover from dopamine cytotoxicity. Animal experiments suggest that anthocyanins taken orally can deliver their benefits centrally, which is to say, to the brain, to protect memory and motor coordination. The polyphenolics in fruits and vegetables, especially those of berries, have been shown to retard and even reverse age-related decrements in motor and cognitive performance.

Eye Health
For eye health, the black currant may be even more protective than the bilberry. The bilberry has many historical or traditional uses based upon both the dried berries and the leaves. Used as a medicinal herb since the 16th century, modern interest in the bilberry is partly based on the fruit’s use by British pilots during the Second World War. These pilots noticed that their night vision improved when they ate bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids. In the intervening years, scientists discovered that anthocyanosides, the bioflavonoid complex in bilberries, black currant and a number of other berries, are potent antioxidants.

Anthocyanosides, i.e., anthocyanins (the name changes based on whether a sugar molecule is attached), provide three primary benefits to the eyes. First, these highly colored plant pigments nourish the retina. Night vision depends on the retina’s ability to constantly regenerate visual purple (rhodopsin), and anthocyanins serve as “building blocks” for this important substance. Tests have confirmed these benefits. When subjects with normal vision supplemented with either black currant or bilberry extract, it was found the acuity of their nighttime vision improved, as did the speed at which they adjusted to darkness and the rate at which they recovered from blinding glare. However, it is important to bear in mind that positive results in trials required the ingestion of 50 mg or more per day of anthocyanins. A prudent level of intake would be on the order of 90 or 100 mg of the anthocyanins per day.

Another area of benefit involves the inducement of short distance vision and/or its aggravation or exacerbation if already present. Continual close range visual tasking, such as extended viewing of computer screens, leads to the development of tension of the ciliary smooth muscle, which impairs the eye’s refractory adjustment function. One result is axial length elongation, an aspect of myopia or “nearsightedness.” Bilberry extracts may help counter axial length elongation and at least one in vivo test provides evidence black currant is superior to bilberry in this regard. Related to ciliary smooth muscle tension is visual fatigue. As most computer users know well, the fatigue of the eyes can extend to the neck, head, arms, shoulders and lower back. Anthocyanin ingestion may be helpful.

Several types of deterioration that are typical of aging eyes, such as cataracts and macular degeneration, appear to be influenced by the rate of generation of free radicals. In laboratory trials, changing the diets from commercial laboratory chow to “well-defined” diets rich in flavonoids has shown to be beneficial. Interesting results have been found with human trials in which anthocyanins were supplemented, either alone or in combination with vitamin E.

Digestive Health
One of the more unexpected benefits of black currant extract is in the area of digestive health. When researchers at Massey University of New Zealand used an animal model to examine the impact of supplementation of the diet with inulin, 30 percent anthocyanin extract concentrate (BCE) or cassis infused dried fruit (IDF), they found significant results. Desirable bacteria, in this test meaning Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, were increased and unwanted gut inhabitants, meaning Bacteriodes and Clostridia, were reduced. Other research has shown black currant may support gastrointestinal health by reducing the activity of â-glucuronidase and increasing that of â-glucosidase.


Lung Function
As mentioned already, black currant contains proanthocyanidins as well as anthocyanins and other polyphenolic compounds. Work performed at The Plant and Food Research Institute of New Zealand examined the impact of black currant extract on immune function and aspects of normal inflammatory response when the lungs are challenged. The findings were that black currant supports normal inflammatory and immune responses under challenge conditions. Researchers have suggested black currant extracts may be supportive in conditions such as asthma.

Colds and Flu
Elderberry has been used in folk medicine for centuries to treat influenza, colds and sinusitis, and has been reported to have antiviral activity against influenza and herpes simplex. Many people are familiar with these uses. However, relatively few individuals are aware of the fact many anthocyanins are active against viruses. Researchers at the Department of Microbiology, Asahikawa Medical College in Japan looked at the effects of black currant against influenza virus types A and B in vitro. According to the study results, both IVA and IVB were inactivated up to 99.9 percent by 10 ìg/ml of the black currant extract at pH 2.8, and 95 to 98 percent by this concentration at pH 7.2. The growth of IVA in cells treated with 10 and 100 ìg/ ml of the extract after infection was completely suppressed in six hours. The results indicated that the extract was effective under test conditions in inhibiting the release of the virus from infected cells.

Women’s Health
Every part of the black currant berry can be used, not just the anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins found chiefly in the skin. The seed oil is a source of both the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid gammalinolenic acid (GLA). GLA is recognized as one of the “good” essential fatty acids used to enhance cell membrane fluidity and function. Although the body can manufacture GLA from dietary linoleic acid, it can be more efficiently utilized for body functions when supplied directly by dietary sources. GLA supports a balanced inflammatory response and has been shown to be important for lung, joint, and eye health. According to authorities such as Andrew Weil, MD, the combination of essential fatty acids found in black currant seeds may influence the production of prostaglandins and assist hormone production to support women during menopause.

Black currant has earned its place in the ranks of the “super” fruits. Its range of benefits is similar to that found with bilberry and far better documented than those often asserted rather than demonstrated for acai and other recently promoted fruits. For the health of the brain and eyes, black currant is a winner. It supports normal immune and inflammatory functions. Starting at an intake as low as 50 mg per day of the concentrated anthocyanins, it is compact health insurance against a world of health challenges.


Published in Diet and Nutrition

Tagged under

·         eye health


·         brain health


·         colds and flu


·         anthocyanins


·         Digestive Health

·         Lung Function

Dallas Clouatre, PhD

Dallas Clouatre, PhD

Dallas Clouatre, Ph.D. earned his A.B. from Stanford and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. A Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, he is a prominent industry consultant in the US, Europe, and Asia, and is a sought-after speaker and spokesperson. He is the author of numerous books. Recent publications include "Tocotrienols in Vitamin E: Hype or Science?" and "Vitamin E – Natural vs. Synthetic" in Tocotrienols: Vitamin E Beyond Tocopherols(2008), "Grape Seed Extract" in the Encyclopedia Of Dietary Supplements (2005), "Kava Kava: Examining New Reports of Toxicity" in Toxicology Letters (2004) and Anti-Fat Nutrients (4th edition).

Website: www.dallasclouatre.com



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