Blackcurrant is the New Brain Food
Every so often I’ll see articles on the web about brain foods. While not all foods I see touted are really brain food, there are definitely some that are a cut above the rest. And there’s one that goes missing on many a list.
So move over walnuts. Watch out fish. Eat your heart out broccoli. There’s a new brain food on the block, and it’s name is Blackcurrant.
It’s not like blackcurrants are new. They’ve been around for a long time, they’re pretty tough to find in the US. Apparently, we’ve been missing out.
Some researchers from New Zealand, though, decided to put this tart little berry to the brain test.
What drew the researcher’s interest to the berry was the compound that it contains. Those compounds – an antioxidant call anthocyanin – acted very similar to certain pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of mood disorders and diseases like Parkinson’s.
The study was small, but included 36 adults that were aged 18 to 35. They drank 250ml – a little under 8.5 ounces – worth of juice before going through some mental tests.
Three separate solutions were given to the participants in a randomized fashion. The drinks consisted of a sugar and taste matched placebo, an enriched New Zeleand blackcurrant extract, and another distinct blackcurrant from New Zealand called “Blackadder”.
The results of the cognitive tests showed that the two blackcurrant drinks improved attention and mood while reducing mental fatigue. Additionally, the scientists noticed that the “Blackadder” juic dereased the activity of certain types of enzymes. Enzymes which break down serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
Their findings were published online in the Journal of Functional Foods and was one of the first studies to research the effects of berries on the cognitive performance of young, healthy adults. They hope this finding could help with the production of foods that could support brain health. And also help with the management of diseases like Parkinson’s.
More Than Ordinary
It’s good to remember that the study above was quite small. As always, more studies need to be done to verify the benefits of blackcurrant consumption. However, other studies have found that the berries have additional health benefits.
The berry has been found to help increase digestive health through the promotion of good bacteria, eye health, and also asthma and lung function. Anthocyanins have also been shown to suppress cold and flu viruses.
Compared to certain other fruits it’s nutritionally superior. It has about 4 times the vitamin C of oranges, twice the potassium of bananas, and almost double the antioxidants of blueberries. Also, blackcurrant leads the world in packing the anthocyanin antioxidant into its skin.
By nutrition standards, it rules the roost in several categories. Sorry, Netflix, but black(currant) is the new orange.
The Best Types of Blackcurrant
New Zealand seems to have the right type of soil and growing environment. It’s blackcurrant berries produce levels of antioxidants that outshine other varieties grown in other parts of the world.
Unfortunately, for us here in the States, it might be tough to get the New Zealand grown berries from the local food store, if not impossible. Finding any type of blackcurrant might be difficult, as growing them has been outlawed in many states. Early in US history, it was seen as a threat to the lumber industry because of a disease that was harmful to pine trees.
If you’re able to find a supply of them anywhere, though, research says that it may do you some good to incorporate them into your diet.
Image: Fredrik Smedenborn
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