With new, exotic ‘superfoods’ emerging on a regular basis, one unfashionable but previously unconsidered berry, the blackcurrant, is enjoying a spirited revival on the global stage for its previously little-known health and fitness benefits.
A raft of new published research has shown this ‘Nana’ fruit, popular in cordials and jams for decades, holds serious claims as a potent functional food.
With up to eight times the antioxidant power of blueberries, blackcurrants – and particularly those grown in New Zealand – have one of the highest polyphenol and anthocyanin densities of any fruit. Unusually though, they have a potent effect on blood flow and can increase circulation up to 35%.
Scientists in New Zealand were the first to identify the huge potential of blackcurrants for sport and health a decade ago. After many years and NZD$10 million in government funding, blackcurrants have achieved a self-substantiated health claim in Australasia for reducing exercise-induced oxidative stress – or in layman’s terms, muscle recovery.
Now British scientists have revealed this small berry fruit is also one of the very few antioxidant sources that can significantly increase sports performance and fat burning during exercise with short-duration intake.
Leading sporting organisations, Olympic athletes and high-profile teams such as Tottenham Hotspurs are now using blackcurrant extract for a new legal competitive edge for performance and muscle recovery.
Outside of the international sporting arena, the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and blood flow-promoting effects of this berry have broad-spectrum applications for wellbeing and age-related conditions, particularly for heart, brain and metabolic health.
New studies, performed on the first-to-market blackcurrant extract supplement, CurraNZ, show how blackcurrants can improve the benefits of exercise, with great potential for the unfit, overweight and unhealthy.
To date five studies have shown the berry favours fat as fuel to unprecedented degrees, with one week’s intake of CurraNZ delivering the same increases in fat burning during exercise normally associated with four weeks of training interventions.
Other research has shown blackcurrants alters perceived exertion and increase the motivation to exercise, while on the health front, helps modulate post-meal glucose levels and improves insulin resistance.
This year, scientists from the University of Chichester, Nippon University and Liverpool John Moores University will be releasing exciting new blackcurrant studies that examine the effects of blackcurrant intake on diabetes risk factors and cardiovascular health in the older population.
So, roll over blueberries, because the future is looking bright for blackcurrants.
CurraNZ is available from curranz.com. 30 capsules contain the equivalent of 85 blackcurrants and retail for £21.75.