8 Amazing Health Benefits Of Black Currant
You’ve probably heard of the many health benefits of different berries – from local wild harvested blueberries, to “superfood” acai berries, to antioxidant-rich goji berries. But today we’re going to explore a lesser-known berry that nevertheless packs a powerful punch for health and vitality: black currant.
Known also as the cassis berry, black currants are black, purple, or red berries that grow throughout Europe, North America, New Zealand, and Asia.
These small-yet-mighty berries have been used medicinally since the Middle Ages due to their incredible properties.
Want to learn more about these anti-aging, virus-fighting, weight-balancing super berries? Check out 8 amazing health benefits of black currant:
1. Anthocyanins: Powerful Natural for Vision Health and More
Black currants are almost as pretty as they are powerful, with a deep, rich, reddish or purplish-black color. Interestingly, the compound that creates that color, called anthocyanin, is also responsible for some of the black currant’s most medicinal properties.
What exactly are anthocyanins, and how can they help you? As a powerful plant with antioxidant properties, anthocyanins are found in particularly high quantities in black currant. It’s been extensively researched for its many health benefits:
- Anti-cancer. Various studies have shown that anthocyanins have potential anti-cancer effects, with one study showing that the compound suppressed tumor growth in breast cancer cells in vitro and in vivo.
- Diabetes. In animal studies, anthocyanins have been shown to offer health benefits to diabetics by addressing insulin resistance.
- Eye health. Anthocyanin-rich foods like black currant are known to be incredibly supportive of eye health.
In various studies, black currant anthocyanins were shown to increase nourishing blood flow to the eyes in patients with glaucoma, reduce intraocular pressure in the eye, and slow down visual field deterioration.
2. GLA has Powerful Anti-inflammatory Effects
We’ll get back to the power of anthocyanins soon, but first let’s take a look at another unique property of black currant: GLA. Short for gamma-linolenic acid, GLA is abundantly found in black currant seeds.
According to the Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, GLA is an important Omega-6 oil. Like essential fatty acids, Omega-6 and Omega-3 oils are fundamental to healthy human function, contributing to healthy skin, hair growth, brain function, and metabolism.
Each essential fatty acid is used in a different way by your body, and gamma-linolenic acid is uniquely helpful in fighting against inflammation.
This is because your body converts GLA into an inflammation-reducing substance called DGLA.
For this reason, black currant can be very helpful for those with joint pain and stiffness caused by inflammation.
In fact, the Arthritis Foundation cites an exciting study in which patients with the inflammatory disorder rheumatoid arthritis experienced far less pain, more joint mobility, and decreased stiffness as a result of GLA’s incredible anti-inflammatory effects.
3. Black Currants Have Immune-Boosting, Virus-Fighting Power
Remember those anthocyanins in black currants?
In addition to their antioxidant power and their role in supporting eye health, anthocyanins in black currant have been shown to boost the body’s immune response – which can help your body fight infections and viruses more effectively.
Take the flu virus, for example. Although the only way to become immune to a specific flu virus is through developing antibodies, anthocyanins are thought to have anti-viral benefits by supporting your body’s natural immune response to influenza.
In this way, anthocyanins may be a powerful ally in decreasing flu symptoms. In fact, studies have shown that anthocyanins can help your body produce tumor necrosis factor alpha, which has a viricide (virus-killing) effect.
4. Antioxidants: Increase Alertness, Enhance Brain Function, and Slow the Aging Process
No exploration of black currant’s properties would be complete without a look at its incredible antioxidant effects. We’ve all heard about antioxidants – but how exactly do they help?
First, it’s important to understand the oxidation process in the body.
As we become exposed to pollution, interact with toxins, and go through the natural aging process, oxidative stress in the body generates harmful particles called free radicals.
Free radicals damage brain cells and accelerate the aging process.
Antioxidants, just like the name suggests, slow oxidation and fight free radicals. This can have some incredible benefits in the body:
- Increased Alertness & Enhanced Brain Function. Need a brain boost? One interesting study had 36 young volunteers consume either a placebo or black currant juice before taking a series of mental tests.
Those who had taken the black currant juice showed better cognitive abilities, memory, alertness, and attention span than the placebo group.
- Slowed Aging Process. As we age, oxidative stress can damage the neurons that are so essential for peak brain function.
Over time, this can contribute to diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. Various animal studies have shown that the antioxidant content in black currant can protect nerve cells from oxidative stress prevent memory loss, and fight the aging process.
Though more studies are needed on this anti-aging power, the Alzheimer’s Society strongly recommends incorporating antioxidant-rich foods into your diet.
5. Promote Weight Loss & Weight Management with Healthy Gut Bacteria
You probably don’t spend too much time thinking about the bacteria that inhabit your gut, but the right type of gut-bacteria can actually be powerful weight loss ally.
In fact, slim people have, on average, 70% more gut bacteria than people who are overweight.
What does this have to do with black currant?
Well, studies have shown that taking black currant can work to increase the amount of healthy bacteria – like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria – in the gut.
In addition to helping boost weight loss and promote weight management through healthy gut bacteria, the gamma-linoleic acid in black currant can help the body eliminate excess fat.
6. Improve Digestion Through Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
We have already discussed how black currants can boost levels of gut-healthy bacteria, which can prove pivotal in supporting a healthy digestive system.
However, there’s one more component of black currants that help improve digestion: fiber.
Black currants are unique in that they contain two types of fiber:
- Soluble fiber. Inside our bodies, soluble fiber turns into a gel-substance that helps slow down digestion sufficiently for our bodies to absorb more nutrients from the food we eat. It also helps lower cholesterol in the body, which is enormously important for cardiovascular health.
- Insoluble fiber. We need insoluble fiber in order to keep the digestive system flowing with healthy bowel movements. Because insoluble fiber helps move undigested food through your intestinal tract, it can help reduce the buildup of toxins and reduce the risk of intestinal cancer.
Together, the different types of fiber in black currants can help contribute to a healthy, balanced digestive system that supports whole-body health.
7. Manganese in Black Currants Helps Balance & Control Blood Sugar
Those who suffer from blood sugar imbalances like diabetes are at a greater risk of major issues like stroke and heart disease.
Keeping blood sugar levels in check is an important part of staying healthy and avoiding serious fluctuations in blood sugar like hyperglycemia (too much blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (too little blood sugar.)
Enter manganese: an essential mineral that’s found in black currant.
Those with diabetes are often shown to be deficient in manganese, but adding manganese to the diet can play a role in regulating blood sugar.
How does it do that? Well, manganese helps boost the enzyme in our bodies that helps us process glucose in our body, contributing to more balanced sugar levels.
8. Polyphenols & Flavonoids: Reduce Cardiovascular Disease Risk & Increase Blood Flow
We’ve seen that polyphenols like those found in anthocyanin-rich black currants can help increase blood flow and circulation to the eye, boosting vision health.
But these blood flow benefits can also support the cardiovascular system as a whole. Let’s take a look at some studies on black currant, polyphenols, and blood flow:
- A study published by the European Journal of Applied Physiology showed that black currant helped reduce shoulder stiffness in typists by increasing blood flow and improving peripheral circulation.
- In the Atlas of Science, a study showed that the polyphenols in black currant improved cardiovascular function — including stroke volume and cardiac output — in trained cyclists who consumed black currant for seven days.
How does this reduce cardiovascular disease risk?
Well, studies have shown that a subgroup of polyphenols called flavonoids may be able to reduce blood clots and bad cholesterol that clog arteries. These flavonoids support healthy blood vessels and improve blood flow which contributes to overall cardiovascular health.
Enjoy the Amazing Health Benefits of Black Currant
Ready to incorporate all the benefits of black currant into your life?
At Vision Smart Center, we use high-quality New Zealand black currants to create therapeutic dietary supplements from this amazing natural source.
Our Blackcurrant GLA provides a high dose of anti-inflammatory omega while our Women’s Sparkle harnesses the power of anthocyanins to help boost the immune system, support joint health, and fight oxidative stress from free radicals. Want to learn more? Feel free to visit our store or contact us today.