What's in blackcurrants?
"Most people are unaware of the nutritional benefits of the great British blackcurrant. Blackcurrants are an excellent source of anthocyanins, important health-promoting antioxidants, known to help protect against ill-health, especially cancer and heart disease. Eating blackcurrants or drinking blackcurrant juice as part of a healthy diet, is an easy, natural way to improve your antioxidant intake and maintain a healthy lifestyle."
Registered Dietitian, Luci Daniels
Like most fruits, blackcurrants contain a lot of water, but they are also bursting with a wide variety of important antioxidants, fibre and energy.
They may be small, but blackcurrants are one of the richest natural sources of important antioxidants like anthocyanins and Vitamin C. Blackcurrants have more than three times the vitamin C of oranges and anthocyanin levels second only to some types of blueberry (Bibliography Ref: 1).
These anthocyanins can help fight against cardiovascular disease, ageing, joint inflammation, eyestrain, urinary infections, kidney stones and even cancer.
Why are local blackcurrants better for me?
Blackcurrants grown in the British Isles have a distinctive profile. It's the anthocyanins in blackcurrants which give them their rich, dark colour. Our blackcurrants have been bred to maximise the deep, rich, purple colour which indicates higher levels of anthocyanins.
Are all blackcurrants the same?
No they are not - different varieties of blackcurrant bush have different characteristics and produce different strains of fruit. Where and how bushes are grown also affects the composition of the berries.
The composition of blackcurrants varies a lot depending on how ripe they are - levels of sugars, fruit acids and anthocyanins generally increase as the fruit ripens.
Anything else that's good for me?
As well as high levels of Vitamin C and other antioxidants, blackcurrants contain soluble and insoluble fibre as well as important carbohydrates to give you energy.
Soluble fibre helps to slow down the release of nutrients, particularly glucose, into the blood stream, which is healthier for the body.
Insoluble fibre speeds up the movement of food through the large intestine. This will help keep you regular and make you feel full, maybe even helping to reduce the risk of cancer.
Blackcurrants also contain fructose and glucose to give you energy.
What about blackcurrant juice?
Drinking blackcurrant juice is an easy way to get all that blackcurrant goodness in you during the non-harvest season. Blackcurrant juice is usually concentrated before it is used in drinks.
Detailed Breakdown of Ingredients
There are one thousand milligrams (mg) in one gram (g) One million micrograms (µg) in one gram (g) One billion nanograms (ng) in one gram
Blackcurrants contain a wide variety of nutrients. They are widely known as being a good source of vitamin C, providing nearly three times the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) in a 100g serving. As well as playing a role as an essential nutrient, vitamin C is also a strong antioxidant. Blackcurrants are a source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre helps slow down the release of nutrients into the blood stream (particularly glucose), and insoluble fibre helps us feel full and speeds up the movement of food through the large intestine. They also provide energy, mainly as fructose and glucose and the seeds contain essential fatty acids: fats that play vital roles in the body, but that the body can’t make itself.
As well as containing useful levels of vitamins, minerals and fibre, some blackcurrant phytochemicals (substances made by the plant) are said to have other health benefits. The main group of blackcurrant phytochemicals that are linked with these benefits are the antioxidants. In blackcurrants the main antioxidants are vitamin C and anthocyanins (the components that give the berries their colour). Blackcurrants are one of the richest natural sources of both, having more than three times the vitamin C of oranges and anthocyanin levels second only to some types of (blue)berry (ref scri).
The average composition of blackcurrants is given in the tables below. Most data is taken from the Food Composition and Nutrition Tables , which is a book of standard values used across Europe. Anthocyanin data is from a range of sources.
The composition of blackcurrants varies a lot depending on what stage of growth the berries are at. Levels of sugars, acids and anthocyanins change during berry development, generally increasing as the fruit ripens . There are also differences between varieties and even the same varieties grown in different regions.
The composition of blackcurrant juice varies depending on the cultivar of blackcurrant used and how the berries are processed. The juice is generally concentrated by the processor before it is used in drinks. So that consumers get consistent information about the products they buy there are standards for “single strength juice” used across Europe that is based on the ºBrix of the juice. (ºBrix is a measure of the percentage solids as sucrose in the juice). The standard value for blackcurrant juice is 10.6 ºBrix . This means that when you see a “% juice” value on a label it refers to the percentage of single strength juice that is in the product.
|Energy Value (average) per 100g edible portion||kJoule||168|
|Total Dietary Fibre||6.78|
|Available Organic Acids||2.63|
|Total Dietary Fibre (Soluble and Insoluble)||g|
Other fruit acids include; p-coumaric acid, caffeic acid, salicylic acid and ferulic acid.
|Linoleic acid (ALA & GLA)||41.0|
|Special Bioactive Compounds||mg|
|Anthocyanins||230 - 840|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)||177mg||295.0|
|Vitamin E (Tocopherols)||2.7mg||27|
|Vitamin A (beta carotene)||81µg||10.1|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||400µg||6.7|
|Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)||8.8µg||4.4|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxin)||80µg||4.0|
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||51µg||3.6|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||44µg||2.8|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||280µg||1.6|
|Vitamin H (Biotin)||2.4µg||0.2|
|Minerals & Trace Elements||Amount||% RDA|
- McCance & Widdowson, The Composition of Foods, 5th Ed, RSC & MAFF
- McCance & Widdowson, The Composition of Foods, 5th Ed, RSC & MAFF
- Souci, S.W., Fachmann, W., Kraut, H., Food Composition and Nutrition Tables, 2002, 6th Medpharm GmbH 2000
- Moyer, R.A., Hummer, K. E., Finn, C. E., Frei, B., Wrolstad, R. E., Anthocyanins , Phenolics, and Antioxidant Capacity in Diverse Small Fruits: Caccinium, Rubus and Ribes, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2002 (50), 519-525
- Määtä. K. R., Kamal-Eldin, A., Törrönen, A. R., High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) Analysis of Phenolic Compounds in Berries with Diode Array and Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectomeric (MS) Detection: Ribes Species, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2003, (51) 6736-6744
- Wu, X., Gu, L., Prior, R. L., McKay, S., Characterization of Anthocyanins and Proanthocyanidins in Some Cultivars of Ribes, Aronia, and Sambucus and Their Antioxidant Capacity, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2004 (52) 7846-7856
- Stewart, D., Deighton, N., Davies, H. V., SCRI Annual Report 2000-2001, Antioxidants in soft fruit, pp 94-98
- Toldam-Andersen, T.B. & Hansen, P.: Growth and development in black currants (Ribes nigrum). III Seasonal changes in sugars, organic acids, chlorophyll and anthocyanins and their possible metabolic background. Journal of Horticultural Science 72: 155-169.
- A.I.J.N. Code of Practice for Evaluation of Fruit and Vegetable Juices. Association of the Industry of Juices and Nectars from Fruits and Vegetables of the European Economic Community.