As the old saying goes, good things come in small packages. And that is certainly true of New Zealand’s remarkable little purple berry – the blackcurrant.
Bold in taste and overflowing with vital nutrients and potent antioxidants, called anthocyanins, these little berries have been used by traditional healers for centuries around the world. But it’s only recently that scientists have begun to investigate their healing and protective powers.
1. A vitamin superstar
Blackcurrants have two times more Vitamin C per serving than oranges or green kiwifruit and at least 16 times more than blueberries. The body uses vitamin C to metabolise protein and form collagen, which is essential for skin care and anti-aging. In addition to vitamin C, blackcurrants have plenty of antioxidants and anthocyanins. These can help strength your immune system, soothe sore throats, and ease flu symptoms. To boost your immune system, pop a handful of frozen blackcurrants (a portion is 125g) into your morning smoothie or on your cereal.
2. Brain boosters
Find yourself slumping at your desk mid-afternoon? Try swapping your energy drink for a fruity tea made using an unsweetened blackcurrant fruit syrup. A study undertaken by New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research, in collaboration with Britain’s Northumbria University show the compounds in NZ blackcurrants help people think sharper when under stress as well as reduce mental fatigue.
3. Help your skin kick the winter blues
Instead of raiding the shops for your next face mask fix, why not look a little closer to home? Create your own spa-worthy homemade face mask using the contents of your fridge. The antioxidant properties of blackcurrants can help effectively neutralise harmful free radicals which damage skin cells.
2 x tablespoons of juice squeezed from de-frosted frozen blackcurrants
1 x tablespoon natural yoghurt
1 x tablespoon honey
Mix well and do a quick patch test.
Apply to your face, wait for 20 mins and wash off with cool water.
4. Reach your fitness goals faster
If you’re a fitness fanatic but find that you burn out halfway through your workout, then it could be down to lactic acid. This exercise nasty is a by-product of your metabolism working hard, which builds up in the muscles and blood during vigorous exercise. A trial by the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences at Chichester University tested the effect of blackcurrant powder on triathletes which found blackcurrants can lower lactate accumulation, allowing them to exercise for longer.
5. A top source of calcium
Calcium plays crucial roles in your body. It’s well known for its ability to build and maintain your bones, yet this mineral is also important for muscle contraction and nerve function. Blackcurrants have the highest level of easily absorbed calcium per serving than any other fresh fruit, making them great for bone health, muscle and nerve function. For a bit of blackcurrant inspired fare make a blackcurrant jus to accompany roast lamb, add blackcurrants to your next muffin mixture or try infusing blackcurrants into mayonnaise. It has a shock value with its stunning colour and is incredibly good as a dipping sauce for veggies or prawns.