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Home > Berry Good Science > Black Currant
Black Currant

Background

The black currant (Ribes nigrum) is native to Europe, Asia Pacific, and North America, but some of the highest-quality black currants are cultivated in New Zealand becaue of the optimum growing conditions. Black currants developed a nickname of the "King of Berries" due to their potent antioxidant activity and powerful nutritional profile. The use of black currant fruit as an herbal medicine emerged in the Middle Ages. Now modern research recognizes various health attributes, particularly with vision health and promoting a healthy inflammation response. Already largely popular in Europe in the form of functional foods and beverages, black currant is catching on as a product worth supplementing into the daily American diet.

Hierarchy of Actives

Polyphenolsare a large family of natural phytonutrients widely distributed in plant foods. They are characterized by the presence of more than one phenol unit per molecule.

Flavonoids(or "bioflavonoids") make up an important subcategory of polyphenols that exhibit potent antioxidant activity. Many health promoting effects are attributed to flavonoids.

Anthocyanins, with their incredible antioxidant and health-promoting potential, are one of the most heavily studied flavonoid categories. Anthocyanins are the water-soluble pigments that are responsible for the dark red-purple color found in fruits, vegetables, and flowers. The darker the berry, the more anthocyanins that are present.

Each berry contains auniqueanthocyanin profile that contributes to its distinct health benefits. Black currant contains four predominant anthocyanins:

  • delphinidin-3-glucoside
  • cyanidin-3-glucoside
  • delphinidin-3-rutinoside
  • cyanidin-3-rutinoside

Antioxidant Ability

Perhaps one of the most important health attributes of dark berries, which are high in anthocyanins is the antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants neutralize free radical buildup, also known as oxidative stress. Free radicals are linked to the development of a number of degenerative diseases and conditions. Free radicals are by-products of normal bodily functions and are inevitable in daily life. However, it is the delicate balance of antioxidants and free radicals that determine our state of health. As we age, the body doesn't function as efficiently and, as a result, an excess of free radicals are produced. We can do our best to arm ourselves by including sufficient amounts of antioxidants in our diet or by supplementing our diet with products rich in dark berry anthocyanins, including black currant anthocyanins.

The Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) test is one commonly used method for measuring the antioxidant capacity of a substance. The higher the ORAC value, the higher the antioxidant activity.

Additional Health Benefits

Black currant is valuable not only for its antioxidant potential but also for the many particular health benefits that are substantiated in studies in the areas of:

  • Vision support
  • Healthy inflammation response
  • Cardiovascular support
  • Immune support

Scientific Research at a Glance

Black currant's extensive use in traditional medicine has interested modern researchers who continuously explore the health benefits of natural products and search for the active compounds like anthocyanins and the mechanisms by which they function. Current studies range fromin vitrolaboratory studies to animal studies and even human clinical studies.

Some noteworthy findings include:

  • In a human clinical trial, a consumption of black currant anthocyanins resulted in improved dark adaptation and a reduction in eye fatigue. (Nakaishi et al., 2000)
  • A preliminary study out of New Zealand shows that a black currant extract modulated certain inflammatory cytokines that can exacerbate asthma symptoms, suggesting the potential for keeping hyper-responsive inflammatory responses at bay. (Hort Research)
  • A human, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study showed that subjects who consumed black currant anthocyanins experienced an improvement in shoulder stiffness caused by typing work- likely due to increased peripheral blood flow and reduced muscle fatigue. (Matsumoto, 2005)

Berries For Life™ Black Currant is the Answer

Our black currant supplement includes astandardized extractthat delivers consistent high levels of the active black currant anthocyanins, combined with awhole food black currant powderthat delivers the full black currant matrix, just as if you were eating the actual berries. We also include ablack currant juice powderfor an added boost of black currant phytonutrients to deliver a well-rounded and complete product to help you stay healthy.