When most people think of a purple fruit, blueberries and blackberries come to mind. Few envision the deep purple berries – so distinctive in taste – that arise from the blackcurrant shrub. Blackcurrants were once popular in this country until they were banned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1900s due to their association with a disease that killed white pine trees. Since the ban has been lifted, blackcurrant berries have again risen in popularity and are being enjoyed for their juice or used to make distinctive tasting jams. More people are starting to recommend them for their unique health properties too. What are the health benefits of blackcurrant?
Blackcurrant Benefits: It’s Super Rich in Vitamin C
Blackcurrants are a better source of vitamin C than citrus fruits. Just one cup of blackcurrant berries has the vitamin C equivalent of three or four small oranges. Scientists in the U.K. are now trying to boost the vitamin C content of blackcurrant juice even more to improve the quality of the juice and make it even more appealing to the public. Vitamin C is important for good immune function, wound healing, prevention of heart disease, and for reducing the signs of skin aging. Most people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables to get adequate amounts of vitamin C, but a single cup of blackcurrants has more than a day’s worth.
Blackcurrant Benefits: It’s Rich in GLA
GLA is an essential fatty acid that has anti-inflammatory effects. It’s not commonly found in the typical American diet, but is believed to protect against a variety of diseases ranging from skin problems to pre-menstrual syndrome because of its anti-inflammatory properties. GLA is the same fatty acid found in evening primrose and borage oil. As noted on the American Cancer Society website, GLA slows down the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory, although few studies have been done to determine its effect on cancer in the human body. Blackcurrant is one of the few good sources of this rare essential fatty acid.
Blackcurrant Benefits: It’s an Antioxidant Powerhouse
Ever wonder where blackcurrants get their deep purple color? It comes from the high level of anthocyanins contained within the fruit. Anthocyanins are the same strong antioxidants that catapulted the wild blueberry to fame. These anthocyanins have strong anti-inflammatory properties and are being studied for a potential role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and for preserving overall memory and brain health. The anthocyanins found in blackcurrant are also thought to protect against heart disease.
The Bottom Line?
You’ll likely hear more about the health benefits of blackcurrant in the near future. This modest little berry is a rising star in the wonderful world of superfruits.