We tend to think of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and other types in that family, but one that doesn’t get enough recognition is the blackcurrant. This shrub that grows mostly in Europe and Asia is a tremendous one that’s used quite commonly in making certain types of foods that include jam and syrup. Blackcurrant wasn’t quite as popular at one time since it was easily contaminated, but advances in agriculture have made blackcurrants increase in popularity.
It’s a good thing that they are, too, as blackcurrants have a tremendous amount of health benefits. They’re also very versatile, as they can be eaten raw and also used as an ingredient. No matter how you’re getting blackcurrants into your diet, you’re doing yourself a tremendous favor. They can be a bit hard to find in the United States, but eating more blackcurrants is certainly worth your time. To show you why, let’s take a look at the nutritional value and proven health benefits you get from eating blackcurrants.
Nutrition of Blackcurrant
Blackcurrants are some of the most nutritional foods that you can find at a low calorie cost, with just 70 in each one cup serving. That same serving delivers nearly two grams of protein, but not too much in the fiber department. However, you’re getting a tremendous amount of vitamin C from blackcurrants, with more than 330 percent of your daily recommendation. You don’t have to worry, either, as your body will get rid of any excess vitamin C that isn’t needed.
As for the other vitamins, you can find small amounts (around five percent daily value) in vitamin A, vitamin E, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. Blackcurrants also contain some important minerals, with around 10 percent daily value in iron, potassium and manganese. Between five and 10 percent are minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and copper. Lastly, there’s only a half gram of fat in each serving of blackcurrants with no cholesterol and a blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
The orange is usually the first fruit that comes to mind when we think of vitamin C, but it has nothing on blackcurrants. While oranges contain 160 percent of your recommended vitamin C in each one cup serving, blackcurrant has more than twice the amount with over 330 percent. That gives an immediate boost to your immune system, creating more white blood cells to fight off foreign bodies that can make you sick, with the cold and flu being the most common viruses.
Vitamin C is also one of the many antioxidants found within blackcurrants that help you avoid serious diseases down the road, as well. These antioxidants are shown to eradicate free radicals in your body that could attack your cells, causing cancer formation and growth. Blackcurrants have been directly linked with eliminating carcinogens in the body, as well, furthering its anti-cancer properties.
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, or fear that you might be at risk, one of the most important ways you can avoid problems is by changing your diet. Focusing on more fruits and vegetables is the best way to control your blood sugar, and blackcurrants are incredibly friendly in that regard. With an estimated glycemic index of just seven, it won’t make much of a dent on your daily total that you should be keeping under 100.
What’s surprising about how low the fiber count is for blackcurrant is the fact that it’s not among the fruits that are high in fiber. The sugar that is within blackcurrants is slowly absorbed so that you get a natural energy boost that lasts throughout the day instead of a dramatic spike or crash in your blood sugar levels. The added iron will further your energy as more oxygen is carried by the blood into the organs.
Good For the Heart
Cholesterol and blood pressure are the two biggest factors that we pay attention to regarding our heart health, but keeping foreign invaders out can be just as important. With the strong antibacterial properties of blackcurrants, you cut your risk of heart disease by getting these potentially deadly bacteria out of your system. Of course, you also get a boost in the more talked about aspects of heart health, too.
Black currants have a fair amount of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have a tremendous effect on heart health by both lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and raising HDL (good) cholesterol. High amounts of potassium contribute to better blood pressure by relieving stress in the blood vessels and removing excess sodium. With anti-inflammatory properties to go along with all of this, blackcurrants are an ideal heart friendly food.
Vitamin C mostly gets attention for its ability to boost your immune system (and for good reason), but it also helps you look better. Vitamin C has the ability to increase the collagen production in your body, giving you a more natural elasticity to your skin. Then you won’t have to deal with expensive injections that look artificial and can sometimes fail.
There’s also a little bit of vitamin A that increases your natural glow and complexion as you can reverse damage from UV rays and prevent early signs of aging. With your skin moisturized and clear, you’ll be able to get rid of dead and dry skin. That even has a benefit for your hair, as hair growth is directly related to scalp health. With a smooth and healthy scalp, you’ll notice that your hair is growing in thicker and faster than before.
Sleep When You Need It
It’s estimated that one out of every three people has at least a mild form of insomnia, or any inability to fall or stay asleep. This can negatively affect your life more than you realize, causing you to turn to a lot of different avenues to try and get more sleep. A healthy diet that includes blackcurrants might be what you’ve been looking for, because of the high magnesium content. Getting the recommended amount of magnesium allows your brain to relax, increasing your ability to fall and stay asleep, while improving your metabolism as a nice bonus.
Summing it Up
Pretty much any food that you can find, even ones that have a long list of benefits, will have some side effects that you have to be mindful of. For starters, blackcurrants do have a somewhat high allergy rate, so they won’t be for everybody. Outside of that, most other people will be able to enjoy blackcurrants in their diet. Just be mindful if you have a blood disorder that includes low blood pressure, as blackcurrants can slow blood clotting and reduce blood pressure, interacting with certain medications.
For that reason, you should avoid blackcurrants if you have a surgery coming in the next two weeks, or if you’ve recently had surgery. There are also those that might be sensitive to salicylates, which are found in blackcurrants. This isn’t a common condition, so many won’t have to fear any side effects such as asthma or stomach pain. Overall, blackcurrants are incredibly healthy and make for a tasty and beneficial part of your diet!