Thanks to the high levels of anthocyanins and vitamin C, two types of important disease-fighting antioxidants, blackcurrants have been suggested by scientific research to have many benefits in promoting health and preventing diseases. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient required for the body’s normal functions and the antioxidant polyphenols in blackcurrants (particularly anthocyanins) may help in maintaining cardiovascular health, ageing and brain health, urinary tract health and healthy vision.
What Are Free Radicals And Antioxidants?
Antioxidants in blackcurrants are good for you because they help fight against free radicals entering the body.
Free radicals are very reactive, potentially damaging substances which are formed as a by-product of the normal maintenance processes carried out by the body (a bit like undesirable fumes being a by-product of running your car). Free radicals also enter our bodies from a number of other sources such as cigarette smoke, air pollution and radiation (1). Damage to body tissues by free radicals is called oxidative damage.
The body has evolved its own defence systems to inactivate free radicals; exposure to more free radicals than the body’s antioxidant defence system can cope with is believed to be a factor in the development of illnesses related to body tissue ageing, such as heart disease, cancers and cataracts. Antioxidants in fruit like blackcurrants are absorbed by the body when we eat them and are thought to act in the same way as the antioxidants that we produce ourselves: stopping free radicals in their tracks.
- Rock CL, Jacob RA, Bowen PE. Update on the Biological Characteristics of Antioxidant Micronutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin E and the Carotenoids. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 1996; 96: 693-702.