Currants offer a wealth of nutrients that can’t be found anywhere else. The small black currant can be both sweet and sour, so it is a fruit that usually requires some sort of additional sweetness, such as honey, for both eating and baking. Currant juice can be used to make a delicious savory sauce to accompany lamb, turkey or fish. In Chinese and European folk medicine, the plant is used in hundreds of recipes. Read on to learn what currants are healthy for!
Table of Contents
- Health benefits of the fruit
- How to use the berries
- Are there side effects
Health benefits of the fruit
These small berries contain infection-fighting vitamin C, more than 300 percent of the recommended daily value is contained in 100 grams of currants. This vitamin has antioxidant properties that prevent free radicals (produced by exposure to toxic chemicals and pollutants and causing aging, cancer, heart disease and inflammation) from damaging cells. The B vitamins found in black currants, such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), and thiamine (vitamin B1), are called “essential” because they come from a common source outside the body – they are needed by the body for metabolism. The iron contained in the berry is an important mineral that provides 20% of the daily requirement and protects against immune deficiency and fatigue by transporting oxygen to the cells. Also included are copper, calcium, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium and potassium for optimal functioning of cells, tissues and organs in the body.
Anthocyanins are one of the compounds that make blackcurrant a particularly effective antioxidant. Flavonoids such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin help reduce the risk of lung and oral cancers, protect against neurological diseases, slow the aging process and fight inflammation. The berries play a role in preventing Alzheimer’s disease, preventing and treating arthritis, gout and liver problems, relieving menopausal symptoms, painful periods, and diarrhea. They are even used externally to heal wounds and treat insect bites.
How healthy are currants: Strengthening the immune system
In addition to vitamin C, black currants contain numerous antioxidants and anthocyanins. They can help strengthen the immune system, relieve sore throats and fight flu symptoms. Blackcurrant leaves also have a number of properties, including:
help for the heart system
Grape-based drinks, such as wine and juice, are known to reduce plaque formation, but black currant juice is much more effective. Black currants are rich in potassium and GLA, which can also help lower blood pressure. GLA also helps make the cells in your heart more resilient and slows the formation of platelets in your blood vessels. In addition, one study found that currant powder increases blood flow to the heart and decreases overall peripheral resistance. This suggests that blackcurrants are healthy and can also help recovery after exercise.
The berries help with psoriasis
The berry is effective in skin diseases in that the currant oil helps to relieve psoriasis symptoms. The oil has been found to slow the growth and development of psoriatic plaques. It can also be applied directly to dry, itchy or burning skin.
Improving the function of the eyes
Research shows that GLA and linoleic acid, found in vitamin C, may show promise in treating dry eyes. Fortunately, black currants are full of both. Clinical studies with black currant roots have shown that these berries improve eye function, including:
- the eyes’ ability to adjust to darkness
- blood flow to the eyes
- slowed progression of visual field deterioration in people with glaucoma
- symptoms of visual fatigue
People who work at computers every day may benefit from black currant supplements. In one study, 1 tablespoon of the berries was found to reduce visual fatigue two hours later.
What currants are healthy for: improving memory
Blackcurrant is essential for maintaining brain health. Daily consumption of the berries sharpens memory and improves oxygenation of the brain. This is due to the presence of antioxidants and iron. They improve the oxygen supply to the brain and nerve cells and support their function. They counteract free radicals and prevent oxidative damage in the brain. The berries reduce the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Are currants healthy: protection against pathogens
In addition to their powerful antioxidant effects, berries also contain antimicrobial properties that can help protect against harmful bacteria and viruses. An extract at a concentration of less than 1% can inhibit the growth of several strains of viruses – including those causing adenoviruses and influenza – by more than 50%, and an extract at a concentration of 10% is able to prevent 95% of these viruses from adhering to the cell surface.
How to use the berries
The berries are available in some grocery stores and also online. They have an intense sour taste and can be eaten raw or made into sweet and savory dishes. They can also be brewed into black currant tea or add a unique flavor to juices, jams, sauces, smoothies and baked goods.
Are there side effects
People taking phenothiazines, a type of antipsychotic medication, should not take black currants because they can increase the risk of seizures. In addition, they can slow blood clotting. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking blood clotting medications such as warfarin, you should consult your doctor before taking the berries. You should also not take berries before surgery, as they may increase the risk of bleeding.