Since most Americans don't know what real currants are, what they aren't, is grapes or raisins. Grapes of course, grow on vines and are sweet. Currants grow on bushes and are tart. The two are as close as bananas and apples but more importantly, raisins have little or none of the Black Currant's antioxidants, and earlier this year a report out of Tuft's University announced that "Black Currants may thwart Alzheimer's." They have twice the potassium of bananas, four times the vitamin C, of oranges and twice the antioxidants of blueberries. This fruit has a very high vitamin C content, several times the recommended daily intake per 100 grams. Also, boasting high levels of potassium, phosphorus, iron, manganese and vitamin B5, and a broad range of other essential nutrients. Phytochemicals in the fruit (polyphenols/anthocyanins) have been demonstrated in laboratory experiments to have the potential to inhibit inflammation mechanisms suspected to be at the origin of heart disease, cancer, microbial infections or neurological disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Black Currant seed oil is also rich in many nutrients, especially vitamin E and several unsaturated fatty acids. First a little history. The blackcurrant is native to northern Europe and Asia. Black Currant was used for centuries in Chinese folk medicine.
It was in cultivation in Russia by the 11th century where it was grown in monastery gardens. The medicinal properties of the plant have been noted in various herbal remedies. The juice boiled with sugar for a syrup that was said to soothe sore throats while the raw juice was used to help reduce fevers. Acording to WebMD "Black currant seed oil contains a chemical called gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Some research suggests that GLA can improve the effectiveness of the immune system, making it more able to fight off disease. These beneficial acids are proven to reduce inflammation in the body and play an important role in brain function and normal growth and development, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Overall, Black Currants have been proven to have health benefits including
- Powerful Anti-Oxidant's
- May help to prevent cancer and heart disease
- Reduces the effects of arthritis
An in vitro study found black currant extract to inhibit the proliferation of breast cancer cells and, to a lesser extent, colon cancer cells. An inverse relationship between vitamin C content and cancer cell proliferation was noted, so that berry extracts with high vitamin C content inhibited cancer cells to a greater extent. An infusion of the leaves has been used in the treatment of dropsy, rheumatic pain, whooping cough, sore throats, and mouth ulcers.
A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that subjects who were given a mixture of berries daily, including Black Currants had a reduction in blood pressure and an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol, two factors that can decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. Vision disorders of aging such as Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) are the number 1 cause of blindness in adults over age 65. Research and clinical studies have shown that certain antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanosides like those found in Black Currants may support vision health and decrease the risk of age related vision problems such as cataracts and AMD.
Scientists have also found that a plant based diet rich in flavonoids, including anthocyanins and quercitin, found in Black Currants may play a role in decreasing the degeneration of the macula the part of your retina that's responsible for central vision by keeping harmful free radicals from damaging the retina. Now the best known treatment for a urinary tract infection is antibiotics, but plant compounds called proanthocyanins, found in fruits like Black Currants, may help prevent the infection from beginning or progressing. Proanthocyanins work their magic by preventing harmful bacteria from sticking to the urinary tract walls. The most studied for these effects are cranberries, but scientists believe that Black Currants may be just as beneficial. Studies show that Black Currants also contain proanthocyanins. Also a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a positive effect of Black Currant juice on kidney stones.
To me the taste of black currant is semi-sweet and sharp, I'm eating a bag right now (really!) texture like raisins, less plump though. The currants I am eating came from New Zealand. Their packaging states the currants are grown without the use of agricultural chemicals or pesticides. These berries are used to make blackcurrant jellies and jams, and are added to desserts or as a part of berry desert sauces. Blackcurrants are commonly used to make, ice-cream and they can also be found in many juice combination's. Black currant is used in "Absolute" black currant Vodka, black currant brandies, cream de casis, and black currant liqueurs.
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