Hailed for its extensive medical properties, researchers from Israel have now uncovered that the humble blackcurrant may be linked to reducing the risk of heart disease.
Preliminary studies have shown that natural compounds found in blackcurrants can decrease the level of complex lipids (fats) in the blood and reduce the accumulation of cholesterol, which in turn will minimise the risk of heart disease.
Heart disease takes the lives of thousands of unsuspecting individuals in the UK each year, and hardening of the arteries, which can lead to a heart attack, is the most common form of the disease. Researchers identified that regular consumption of blackcurrants can provide the body with natural antioxidant nutrients. These nutrients work to protect natural components in the blood from degradation and oxidation to toxic molecules which can accelerate hardening of arteries leading to cardiovascular disease.
Researchers studied 35 beverages including; red wine, concord grape juice, blueberry juice and acaia juice to name but a few, and blackcurrant juice was found to be the most potent antioxidant drink, further heralding the number one superfruit as an effective weapon against heart disease. In studies at the Rambam Medical Centre in Haifa, the juice of the fruit was found to slow down cholesterol accumulation in the cells associated with hardening of the arteries. Furthermore blackcurrant consumption increased the levels of some of the bodies’ protective enzymes and antioxidant systems.
Professor Michael Aviram, who led the team involved in the study, says: “To find such a high level of antioxidants packed into this super little berry is an exciting and significant breakthrough in heart health. The blackcurrant is so easy to enjoy and therefore the perfect way to protect ourselves from nasty free radicals which we so regularly consume from pollution.”
Further research to support the heart health benefits of blackcurrant consumption has been highlighted in a recent publication by a group of German and Spanish scientists*. In this study, participants were given a high energy meal containing huge amounts of cream and sugar, followed by a blackcurrant rich or a blackcurrant-free smoothie. Consumption of the Blackcurrant enriched smoothie resulted in a reduced uptake of the complex fats (triacylglycerols; TAG) in the blood post-meal. The reduction of fatty acids indicates yet another beneficial effect of the blackcurrant as high blood TAG levels are associated with an increased risk of arterial inflammation and degenerative heart disease progression.
Blackcurrants are traditionally rich in health promoting antioxidants called anthocyanins, which give the fruit their distinctive dark purple colour. The darker the blackcurrant, the more anthocyanins it contains, so ultimately the better it is for you. British blackcurrants are grown and bred especially for their deep colour, making them extra good for you.
Whilst British blackcurrants can only be found fresh during their season (due to start imminently in July) their health benefits can be reaped all year round! Whether it be blackcurrant juices, cordials, yoghurts or frozen fruit, they still contain the same widespread array of health benefits as their fresh counterparts. Who knew that such a little fruit could give your body such a major boost?
With the Blackcurrant season shortly upon us, there is no better time to stock up and reap the abundance of health benefits that this mini marvel has to offer. Thanks to the high levels of anthocyanins and Vitamin C, two types of important disease fighting antioxidants, blackcurrants have been suggested to maintain ageing and brain health, urinary tract health and healthy vision as well as cardiovascular health.
The Blackcurrant Foundation has been established by British growers and has close links with partners from all over Britain and Ireland, to raise awareness of the numerous health benefits of blackcurrants from the British Isles. Blackcurrant Foundation members grow 2,000 hectares of blackcurrants across the British Isles which produces a crop of approximately 14,000 tonnes of fruit every year during the harvest season in July and August. At present there are 50 blackcurrant growers in Great Britain.
For more information on British blackcurrants or the Blackcurrant Foundation, visit www.blackcurrantfoundation.co.uk