As an American living in the good ol’ US of A, do you know what black currants are? Have you ever heard about these berries?
I can see you shaking your head and looking puzzled. That’s okay. You’re not the only one. Not a lot of Americans are familiar with these berries. According to Marvin Pritts, a professor of horticulture at Cornell University, “A large majority [of Americans] have never eaten one—probably less than 0.1%.”
A lot of people consider black currants as a summer staple. It is native to the temperate areas of northern and central Europe and Northern Asia as well. These berries thrive best in damp and fertile soils.
This particular berry has a sweet earthy taste. It has a bit of acidity and sweetness in it. The aftertaste is described as “fresh and sharply cleansing, with no residual sweetness.”
There are several ways to enjoy this berry. You can eat them raw. But they are usually cooked along with sweet and savoury dishes. They also come in jam form, jelly form, syrup form, and juice form.
Black Currants Banned in the United States
Having zero knowledge of black currants wasn’t always the case. Way back when, plenty of US farmers grew acres upon acres of black currants, along with gooseberries and white currants.
However, many farmers thought that these berries helped spread a fungus that killed pine trees. People back then thought that this would negatively affect the United States timber and logging industry.
That’s why in 1911, US regulations were passed against black currants. These led to the farming ban of the once-popular berries.
For the longest time, black currants were banned in the United States. They were not readily available in the country for more than 100 years. They were also given the label of the forbidden fruit.
In April 2003, several states overturned the ban. Some of them include New York, Connecticut, Oregon, and Vermont.
Sadly, there are still some states in the present time that have not lifted the ban. These include New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, Maine, and Massachusetts. Now, the berries are still quite unpopular in the country, but are enjoying growing popularity in Europe and New Zealand.
These berries are known to have a super high concentration of antioxidants. They also have high doses of iron, vitamin C, and the essential B vitamins, such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamin (vitamin B1), and pyridoxine (vitamin B6). Along with that are vitamins A and E. There’s also minerals like calcium, phosphorus, copper, manganese, potassium, and magnesium. They also have anthocyanins, polyphenolic substances, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), as well as helpful flavonoids.
Benefits of Black Currants
Though these are just slowly gaining momentum in the United States, many other people all over the world are witnesses of the numerous benefits black currants have for our bodies. Here’s a rundown of just a few of those advantages.
Vitamin C Super Powers
Black currants have a very high vitamin C content. In fact, they provide more than 300 percent of the daily recommended value in a 100-gram serving. So what can this particular vitamin do to keep you healthy?
First, vitamin C looks after your body’s tissue health. It helps in making collagen, an important factor in bones, skin, teeth, tendons, ligaments, and cartilages. Collagen is also responsible in keeping the skin elastic and supple.
Next, vitamin C makes sure the body properly absorbs iron from vegetables and cereals. Iron is important to the body since it helps the blood carry oxygen throughout the rest of the body.
Third, vitamin C is very powerful in fighting against the common cold. It reduces the symptoms and makes sure you recover quickly.
The compounds present in black currants protects the retina from damage that can lead to complete vision loss. GLA and linoleic acid are also effective for treating dry eyes. These berries also help with other eye troubles. Some examples include seeing better in the dark, blood flow to the eyes, visual fatigue, cataracts, and glaucoma.
Helps in Ageing
The high antioxidant count in these berries play a huge part in slowing down the ageing process. They protect your cells from damage and sudden wear and tear, thus slowing down ageing. Other components of black currants called procyanidins and their metabolites inhibit cell death due to oxidative stress. In addition, these berries also help with Parkinson’s disease, dementia, as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
Black currants are found to be effective with the treatment of certain skin disorders. Most noteworthy are psoriasis and eczema. Black currant seed oil in particular helps slow down the growth and development of psoriasis patches. The oil also soothes dry, itchy, or stinging skin.
Also, collagen production is improved with this fruit. This ensures you get smoother, healthier, and glowing skin.
Boosts Brain Health
Along with the body, the brain also ages. When the brain starts to age, we develop a poorer memory. Luckily, black currants can help with that. Compounds in the fruit improve cognitive performance, create new nerve cells, and have a positive effect on neuroplasticity. This is the brain’s ability to change while learning. There is also a notable improvement in short-term memory, focus, and concentration.
Promotes Good Digestion
Black currants have a good amount of dietary fiber. This helps prevent constipation and regulates bowel movement. These berries also promote healthy bacteria in the gut. This then maintains the healthy functioning of the digestive system. This leads to healthy weight management as well as disease prevention.
Aids in a Healthy Urinary Tract
Too much bacteria in the urinary tract increases your risk for infections, like UTI. Luckily, black currants clean out the bacteria. They also inhibit the growth of bacteria because of their antibacterial properties. The compounds proanthocyanidins are responsible for driving the bad bacteria out of the system.
Basically, cancer’s root cause are harmful free radicals that attack the body. The antioxidants in black currants help neutralize these free radicals.
Also, the anthocyanins found in these berries help reduce the growth of cancer cells. They have an anti-tumor effect. These anthocyanins also inhibit tumor cell numbers and increase cancer cell death. These berries are particularly effective against gastric cancer, liver cancer, and esophagus cancer.
Promotes a Healthy Heart
Juice from black currants are very powerful in decreasing plaque buildup. Potassium and GLA in the berries also lower high blood pressure. In addition, the GLA helps cells in the heart resist damage. It also slows down platelet clumping in the blood vessels. Blood clots can injure the blood vessel lining and stop them from working. Also, these clots release harmful chemicals that increase the formation of bad cholesterol, which then stick to blood vessel walls. This will lead to the narrowing of the arteries, which inhibit proper blood flow and lead to an increase in blood pressure.
Helps with Inflammation
These berries have a positive effect on the body’s inflammatory response. The GLA and anthocyanin content reduces joint or muscle pain, stiffness, soreness, and damage. The berries are also helpful in preventing inflammation in the stomach, intestine, and the cardiovascular system.
Provides Better Sleep
The magnesium content in black currants plays a big part in good sleep. It improves the quality, duration, and tranquility of sleep. And also, since these berries regulate the body’s metabolism, this leads to a reduction in sleep disorders and the occurrence of insomnia.