The black currant (Ribes nigrum) is a woody shrub grown for its berries. It is native to temperate parts of central and northern Europe and northern Asia. In the United States, black currants have long been called the forbidden fruit. Farmers claimed the tart berries, from Europe and Asia, spread a fungus that destroyed pine trees. It has a strong tart flavour when young. They become sweet when ripe. Black currants are also high in several vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, all of which have significant health benefits. Black currants are rich in:
- Vitamin C, B-5, B-6, B-1 and E
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA)
- Polyphenolic substances
The most notable antioxidant in black currants is vitamin C. In fact, black currants vitamin C amount is 4 times higher than oranges, and the antioxidants in black currants are twice as in blueberries. The body uses vitamin C to metabolize protein and form collagen, which is vital for skin care and anti-aging.
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May Boost Immune System
Black currants have plenty of antioxidants. These antioxidants may boost your immune system, soothe the sore throats and ease the symptoms of flu. Black currant leaves also have a variety of qualities, such as antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory properties. One study in older adults showed the black currant seed oil boosted their immune system . Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is a chemical found in black currant seed oil. GLA may improve the immune system, making it more capable of fighting disease.
May Decrease Inflammation
Black currants are high in phytonutrient, antioxidants, vitamins, essential fatty acids, and minerals. Blackcurrants, in particular, are known for their high levels of vitamin C, GLA gamma-linoleic acid, which is a very rare Omega-6 essential fatty acid. Black currants contain anthocyanins, which are naturally occurring compounds in berries. They are extremely powerful antioxidants that are responsible for the colour of blackcurrants. Anthocyanins can reduce inflammation by inhibiting the enzymes cyclo-oxygenase 1 and 2 .
May Improve Skin Health
Although scientific research on black currant seed oil and its efficacy in skin conditions is lacking. There are anecdotal claims that the black currant seed oil helps ease symptoms of psoriasis. You can directly apply it to dry, itchy or stingy skin.
May Improve Heart Output
Black currant is high in potassium and GLA, which can help lower blood pressure. The GLA also helps the cells in your heart withstand damage and slows the clumping of platelets in your blood vessels. One study in athletes found black currant powder increased heart blood flow and decreased the peripheral resistance .
May Improve Eye Health
Black currants are high in anthocyanins that may aid in the treatment of eyes disease. The antioxidants in black currants improve blood flow to the eyes and may slow the progression of glaucoma . Gamma-linoleic acid, linoleic acid found in vitamin C, and other antioxidants may also aid in the treatment of dry eyes and eye fatigue .
How to Eat Black Currant
Fresh black currants are less common than dried black currants, but they are available in some stores. When purchasing these berries fresh, look for deep purple skin. Keep in mind that black currants can go bad quickly once picked. You can slow the process by putting them in the fridge or freezer. While black currants have a strong flavour, when they’re ripe, they’re delicious to eat raw. You can also integrate them into a variety of recipes. You can prepare black currants in a variety of ways, including:
- Cooking with sugar to make a jam.
- Baking them into muffins or fruit pies.
- Making fresh black currant juice.
- Making a refreshing black currant sorbet.
It is easy to integrate black currants into your diet. You can find the blackcurrants as dried fruit, oils, pills, capsules, and powder. In addition, you can mix the berries themselves into any recipe that requiring a little of tangy sweetness.
Side Effects and precautions
Eating black currant berries in moderate quantity is healthy. However, it has been reported that the black currant supplements cause certain side effects, such as soft stools, moderate diarrhea and intestinal gas. In addition, black current supplements can interact with several medications and herbs. Since it can delay blood clotting, people with bleeding problems or those about to have surgery should not use black currant supplements. Talk to your doctor before using black currant supplement.
While black currant berries may provide several health benefits, but there is a lack of medical evidence to support the use of black currant supplements as a regular treatment for any health problem. If you are considering using it, make sure first that you speak to your doctor. Before taking any supplements, including black currant seed oil or powder, ask your doctor for proper dosage.