Growing up, I loved black currant flavored juice. I enjoyed it’s vibrant taste and brilliant color, but of course, I didn’t know a thing about it’s properties or the many benefits that it could offer.
What is Black Currant?
For starters, Black Currant is a small shrub that belongs to the gooseberry family of plants. Its bush produces dark purple, nutrient-dense berries that are loaded with vitamin C. These berries are rich in anthocyanins, which also possess many health-promoting properties, including the ability to prevent obesity, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Eating black currant berries can also promote eye health, kill pathogens and viruses, as well as boost the human immune system.
Black Currant History
For many years, Blackcurrant has had a rich history as a popular natural remedy that has been used for everything from treating gout to relieving PMS symptoms. In the 1800s, black currant was extremely popular in the United States. In fact, during the 1920 census, it was estimated that United States farmers were growing 7,400 acres of currants and gooseberries. Despite all of this, it may be surprising to hear that many Americans today have never tried, let alone heard of, the black currant, neither do they know the importance. In Europe, black currants have retained their popularity over the years. In fact, a blackcurrant juice called Ribena was even given to children during World War II to prevent vitamin C deficiency after the import of citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes were blocked in the United Kingdom. Blackcurrant remains a popular ingredient for juices, jams, and jellies in Europe. Recent statistics even show that a whopping 97.8 percent of currants grown worldwide are actually found in Europe. In the United States, black currants are not as common as they once were, but they have begun to thrive again in areas like Connecticut, Oregon, and New York but that does not in any way take away from the many benefits that they have. Below, I am going to give a few advantages that Black Currant can have on the body as well as what it can do for you.
Black Currant Benefits
Rich in Anthocyanins
The deep purple pigment of the blackcurrant is attributed to its high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are plant pigments that produce a red, purple or blue hue depending on their pH. Black currants contain a good variety of anthocyanins, with some studies showing that they contain up to 15 unique types. In addition to their role as a plant pigment, anthocyanins also possess many health-promoting properties. Research has shown that anthocyanins may play a role in cancer prevention, heart health, obesity and even diabetes.
Helps Reduce Cancer Growth
One of the most impressive benefits of the black currant plant is its powerful effect on cancer. Thanks to its high anthocyanin content, some research has found that black currant extract may help slow the growth of cancer. In one test-tube study conducted by Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, black currant extract was shown to help inhibit the growth of liver cancer cells. Another recent study out of Japan found that black currant extract blocked the spread of breast and endometrial cancer cells.
Promotes Eye Health
A glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that can cause blurred and distorted vision and may even lead to blindness. This is typically a result of damage to the optic nerve, the nerve that connects the brain to the eyes.Some studies show that the compounds found in black currants could help prevent glaucoma and promote the health of your eyes. When used in combination with traditional treatments, black currant may be effective in promoting eye health and preventing vision loss.
Black currant is bursting with vitamin C. In fact, just one cup of raw black currants can provide triple the amount you need for the entire day. Vitamin C is well-known for its immune-enhancing properties. Studies show that vitamin C can shorten the duration of respiratory tract infections and protect against malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea infections, among others.One review from the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki in Finland comprised of 8 studies and found that vitamin C supplementation cut common cold incidence by up to 91 percent and slashed the incidence of pneumonia by 80 percent to 100 percent. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, which can help prevent damage to tissues caused by harmful free radicals and may even cut the risk of cancer, heart disease, and stroke. For best results, it is best to pair black currant with other high vitamin C foods, such as fruits and vegetables, to keep your immune system strong.
Protects Against Pathogens
In addition to its powerful abilities to act as a powerful antioxidant, black currant also has antimicrobial properties that could help protect against harmful bacteria and viruses. A 2012 study carried out in Japan published in Microbiology and Immunology showed that the extract from blackcurrant with a concentration of less than 1 percent was able to block the growth of several strains of viruses, which include viruses responsible for adenovirus and influenza — by over 50 percent. On the other hand, an extract of 11 percent concentration was able to block 95 percent of these viruses from sticking to cell surfaces. Another study from the Department of Microbiology at Asahikawa Medical College in Japan demonstrated that treating strains of influenza with a concentrated amount of black currant extract was able to completely suppress virus growth. Other research has found that blackcurrant oil may be effective against H. pylori, a type of bacteria that has the ability to cause kinds of stomach ulcers, abdominal pain, and nausea. Black currant may also be helpful in treating other types of illnesses caused by bacterial infections, such as a whooping cough.
May Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
Herpes is a common viral infection that affects millions of people worldwide. Symptoms can vary, causing fever blisters on or around the mouth in some people and painful, itchy genital sores in others. Some studies show that the compounds found in black currant may help kill off the virus that causes both oral and genital herpes.A recent study published in Phytotherapy Research showed that blackcurrant extract stopped the herpes virus from adhering to cells and prevented the spread of the virus.
There are many fruits, and they all have their personal and different uses, but among all the fruits out there, black currant is definitely one to look out for and become more interested in. Nutrient-rich, versatile and jam-packed with health benefits, the blackcurrant may not be well-known around the world, but it should be. With emerging evidence showing that the blackcurrant possesses various antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral properties and may be useful in slowing cancer growth, enhancing immunity and even preventing eye disease, this sour berry should definitely be a must-try on everyone’s list, and if you haven’t tried it, there is always a first time for everything.
Before I close out on this article, here are some last fun facts about our favorite new fruit, Black Currant.
- Black currants are low in calories but high in many nutrients, especially vitamin C.
- As fruits, they tend to have strong antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties that can help to prevent infection and disease as well as actively promote many other aspects of overall health.
- They may be sour in taste as well, but they are definitely worth it as they have also been shown to prevent eye disease, cut the growth of cancer and even block herpes outbreaks
There you have it, now you know the benefits of black currant. Get to work trying to find it.