Blackcurrants are famous for their Vitamin C content.blackcurrants
Our Grandmothers told us that!
They are a standby to help us with colds and sniffles.

But, did you know that New Zealand-grown blackcurrants are in demand all over the world for research studies?

Studies that focus on the antioxidant properties of flavonoids? (Flavonoids protect the DNA of plants from UV damage from sunlight. You can recognise flavonoids by their colour pigments like the rich, dark colour of blackcurrants.)

One of the most researched flavonoids is the anthocyanin family (named after ‘cyan’ for blue) and plants producing such ‘blue’ anthocyanins in significant amounts include bilberries (a specific type of blueberry), and blackcurrants.

Why New Zealand?

Because the very high UV intensity in New Zealand, (at times unsafe for humans and plants) seems to produce blackcurrants with exceptionally high anthocyanin levels: that’s why many medical researchers in Japan, the UK, USA and NZ use NZ-grown blackcurrants for their subject matter.blackcurrant-1

This research has important outcomes for the brain-healthy community. NZ-grown blackcurrants have been shown to have a strong relevance to mental acuity, focus, reaction time and logical reasoning. See: ‘Acute supplementation with blackcurrant extracts modulates cognitive functioning and inhibits monoamine oxidase-B in healthy young adults’. Journal of Functional Foods 17 (2015) 524-539.

What we eat can and does influence the way the brain works for us and our long-term mental health. It may even be relevant for disorders affecting the global ageing population.

Food – and blackcurrants – matter, and why?

Because of the phytochemicals that also produced in the secondary metabolism of plants. They include the polyphenol group (phenolic acids, flavonoids, and stilbenes). Blackcurrants have natural phytochemical values, one being in the area of sports performance. For example the European Journal of Applied Physiology has just accepted for publication (as of December 2016) a manuscript entitledCardiovascular Function during Supine Rest in Endurance Trained Males with New Zealand Blackcurrant: A Dose-Response Study’ (ref: Ms. No. EJAP-D-16-00725R).

Another area of research with significant potential relevance to brain health is the joint-research collaboration between NZ Plant & Food/Massey University, a group of Japanese Universities, and Nelson-based Sujon Berryfruits. (Read the research)

Successful investigations into whether NZ blackcurrant-based foods can improve the ‘management’ of human carbohydrate metabolism could lead to an improvement in both physical and cognitive performance and combat the cognitive decline associated with ageing.

‘Blackcurrants have had a meteoric “consumer ride”: from the folk-lore cure-all for colds and sniffles to becoming part of the nutritional diet of every serious sportsperson. Now perhaps a go-to berry for people wanting a healthy, dynamic brain capable of allowing them to enjoy their lives to the fullest and longest. A lot of research is still to be done but much of the research in this area is predicated on a dose-equivalent to a handful of fresh (or frozen) blackcurrants: a dose that can very easily simply be part of a person’s daily 5-plus a day diet.’ Bill Floyd

(Article based on information supplied by Bill Floyd for Sujon Berryfruits Ltd.)

Download the free Sujon Berry recipe booklet

Blackcurrants are available all year round in powder form, under the Sujon brand, in NZ Health food stores.

{NB: If you are taking prescribed medication, always check with your doctor before making any dietary changes to make sure it is safe and appropriate for you. Sujon Berryfruits have advised the following:

Blackcurrants and ‘MAOI’ medications: Recent research has shown that juices and extracts from the NZ Blackadder variety of blackcurrant contains Mono-amine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI’s) which is why it is thought to be useful in protecting and supporting healthy brain function. But these same inhibitors (found in some anti-depressants) can interfere with certain medications so people being treated for conditions such as Parkinson’s or depression should consult their medical professional before consuming any Blackadder variety blackcurrant juices or extracts. Sujon Berryfruits Frozen blackcurrant berries and Blackcurrant Powders contain no Blackadder juice or by-product. Sujon uses only NZ-grown Ben Ard blackcurrants in its product range but Sujon Berryfruits has to recommend that if you are on any MAOI medication the safest approach is to avoid taking any blackcurrant product until you have discussed the matter with your medical professional.}