Blackcurrants are also especially rich in Vitamin C - containing more than three times as much as an orange! They can even help prevent joint inflammation, eyestrain and urinary infections.
Find out more about how eating blackcurrants can help keep you healthy.
Why is Vitamin C good for you?
The most well-known health benefit of blackcurrants is that they contain large amounts of Vitamin C. Vitamins are substances we need to enable our bodies to live, grow and reproduce normally. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient - it cannot be made by the human body and we must therefore eat foods which contain it (Bibliography Ref: 13). Because the body breaks down Vitamin C very quickly and does not store very much, we need to eat Vitamin C containing foods regularly, preferably every day.
Reference: McCance & Widdowson, The Composition of Foods, 5th Ed, RSC & MAFF
We must consume a minimum amount of Vitamin C to prevent scurvy. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C is 60 mg. This is well above the level required to prevent scurvy to ensure that our bodies stay healthy. However, apart from the world's poorest countries, diets in the 21st century are very unlikely to contain less than this minimum amount.
Vitamin C looks after body tissue health
Vitamin C is needed by the body to make collagen, an important structural material in bones, teeth, skin, ligaments (that connect bones to other bones in joints), tendons (that connect muscles to bones) and cartilage (that helps to provide cushioning in joints).
Collagen is responsible for skin elasticity and its degradation leads to wrinkles. Adequate Vitamin C is therefore necessary to maintain the health of all of these body tissues and deficiency can result in tooth loss, joint pains and problems with bone and connective tissue (Bibliography Ref: 14, 15).
Vitamin C helps iron absorption
Vitamin C helps the body absorb and use the iron we get from vegetables and cereals (Bibliography Ref: 16, 17, 18, 19). Iron is an important mineral because it enables blood to carry oxygen to all our bodily tissues. People who don't get enough iron from their food become anaemic.
Vitamin C boosts the immune system
Scientific studies have shown that Vitamin C can boost many different parts of the immune system (Bibliography Ref: 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27). For example, Vitamin C is essential for the functioning of white blood cells (Bibliography Ref: 28, 29).
Vitamin C is necessary for the immune system to function and extra Vitamin C could give us more power to fight illness.
Vitamin C can help fight colds
It has not yet been proven whether or not Vitamin C can prevent infections such as colds and flu (Bibliography Ref: 30, 31, 32). However, if you do catch a cold, Vitamin C can help to reduce the symptoms and speed up your recovery (Bibliography Ref: 33, 34).
Some scientific studies suggest that levels of white blood cells and Vitamin C in the body decrease when you suffer a cold (Bibliography Ref: 35, 36, 37). Therefore, taking extra Vitamin C can prevent the fall in Vitamin C levels (Bibliography Ref: 38) which suggests that the body may need a greater amount of Vitamin C during illness, especially when fighting an infection.
Vitamin C as a healthy antioxidant
Vitamin C also keeps us healthy by acting as an antioxidant (Bibliography Ref: 39, 40, 41), protecting our bodies from free radical damage. Scientists think that by consuming lots of antioxidants regularly, we can delay age-related diseases, which occur as a result of our organs "wearing out".
Research suggests that Vitamin C can help to: