Currant: Properties and Benefits
The currant genus includes many species, the black one in particular has properties useful for health. Recent studies show its health benefits, let’s see what they are
The currant is the fruit (berry) of a perennial shrub belonging to the Sassifragaceae family. The plant normally reaches 2 meters in height and lives spontaneously in the woods with a high rate of humidity.
The currant grows and is widespread in most of Europe and North America up to Asia and in some parts of North Africa.
The harvest period for red and black currants is from June to September. For the white one, the harvest takes place in the period between August and September.
- Chemical Composition
- Immune System
The genus Ribes includes many species, around 80. The most widespread in our area are 3: red ( Ribes Rubrum ), black ( Ribes Nigrum ) and white ( Ribes Grossularia ). Here are some varieties: Junnifer, Cocagne, Perfection, Rondom, Red Lake, Rovada and Versailles.
The red currant is the most common and cultivated in Italy where it is also used for the production of syrups as well as for direct consumption.
The black one , on the other hand, is more common in central and northern Europe where it is often used for the production of liqueurs.
The white , although in past times it was very popular, it is now very difficult to find, especially in the retail banks.
|Chemical composition for 100 gr of black currant|
|Vitamin A, RAE||mcg||12|
Source: USDA Database
There are also organic acids such as citric acid, tartaric acid and malic acid in addition to oil essential. Other components of this fruit, especially in the black variety, are tannins, anthocyanins and pectin.
100 g of edible part of black currant have an average calorie intake of 63 kcal.
Currant: Properties and Benefits
It is a fruit with excellent anti-inflammatory properties , in particular of the urinary system. The gems of black currants contain essential oils and flavonoids, very useful substances as rich in anti-inflammatory properties. The young leaves of the plant have been found to have effects similar to cortisone but without side effects.
The currants, especially the black variety, is rich in gamma linoleic acid (GLA). The properties of this compound have several benefits on the heart. In addition to helping to reduce blood pressure, it protects heart cells from damage and slows the aggregation of platelets in the veins.
A very recent Iranian study suggests that Ribes khorasanicum extract in the dose of 12 mg / kg shows an antihypertensive effect on rats. ( 1 )
In a 2014 study, researchers found that black currant powder increased the flow of blood to the heart.
The results of an Indian study provide evidence that currant extract improves myocardial injury and antioxidant defense against myocardial infarction in rats and also shows cardioprotective properties. ( 2 )
The currants, especially the black , can be used for treating arthritis. Its intake reduces inflammation and decreases the water retention in the affected areas of the joints.
A study in rheumatoid arthritis patients found that the extract of these berries significantly reduced the symptoms of the disease. ( 3 )
For this purpose, an infusion prepared with a spoonful of dried leaves and a liter of boiling water is used. To drink 2 glasses a day.
The same infusion mentioned above can be used to reduce inflammation and pain typical of gout.
Diuretic and Astringent
It has diuretic and purifying properties, it is therefore used for the preparation of herbal teas and antiallergic compounds. Its juice has astringent properties and is used to combat cases of diarrhea.
For diuretic purposes, an infusion can be prepared with 3 teaspoons of dried leaves in a liter of water.Drink 2 glasses a day before meals.
The abundance of vitamin C protects the body from cooling diseases. At the same time it brings benefits to our immune system.
A review of Finnish studies found that vitamin C supplementation reduces the incidence of common cold by up to 91% and that of pneumonia from 80 to 100%. ( 4 )
A New Zealand study found that black variety supplements improve the immune response in people who do regular physical activity. ( 5 )
Another study conducted on older people has shown that oil extracted from seeds boosts the immune system. ( 6 )
The good presence of vitamins A and C gives currants antioxidant properties (typical of all berries) which are useful for counteracting the effect of free radicals.
This property, in addition to slowing down the natural aging process, is useful in the prevention of tumors and cardiovascular disease. Other components with antioxidant activity are flavonoids, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin.
Thanks to the high content of anthocyanins some research has found that the extracted from blackcurrants may help slow the growth of tumors.
A 2010 study showed that black variety berry extract inhibits the growth of liver cancer cells. ( 7 )
Another 2015 study found that the extract blocks the spread of breast cancer cells. There is also other research showing that berry extract can be effective in killing cancer cells in the stomach and esophagus. ( 8 , 9 )
Benefits to the Skin
The vitamin A is also needed to maintain the integrity of the mucous membranes and skin and protect it from the effects of atmospheric and polluting agents.
It is Good for Eyes
Its intake improves twilight vision. The flavonoids present in the fruit have been shown to improve vision loss typical of myopia. The antioxidant compounds then have a protective action against the retina. They therefore prevent macular degeneration, a pathology typical of advancing age.
A 2012 study found that anthocyanins found in blackcurrant helped reduce vision loss in patients with glaucoma. ( 10 )
Research suggests that GLA and linoleic acid have useful properties for treating dry eyes. ( 11 )
Studies show that those who use the computer all day can benefit from the properties of these tasty berries. In tests it turned out that a spoonful of berries reduces visual fatigue two hours after taking it. ( 12 )
The acids of its juice are able to stimulate the gastric secretions of the digestive system. They are thus useful in case of difficult digestion.
It can be used in case of hemorrhoids and to counteract all inflammatory states.
The presence of pectin , which is a type of dietary fiber, forms a gelatinous mass in the intestine. This absorbs the microorganisms responsible for disorders such as flatulence and diarrhea and promotes their expulsion.
The varicose veins are caused by poor blood circulation. Black currant syrup can improve this condition. For doses and methods of use, consult the instructions enclosed with the product.
In popular tradition, the use of these berries is indicated for the treatment of gout and rheumatic pain. A spoonful of currant juice , taken early in the morning, is instead useful for counteracting the fragility of the capillaries.
The black currant
The name seems to derive from the Arabic word ribas which indicates a type of rhubarb with the same flavor.
In recent times, black currant has jumped to the headlines as recent studies have shown its antihistamine properties . In fact, some compounds are able to temporarily block that immune system reaction that gives rise to allergies.
For these reasons Ribes nigrum is now recommended in cases of allergies, asthma, bronchitis, conjunctivitis and pharyngitis.
The leaves also contain substances with therapeutic properties useful for health. They are therefore used for the preparation of herbal teas and mother tinctures with a diuretic effect and for the reduction of the cholesterol level in the blood.
The blackcurrant is less frost resistant than the white and red. It should therefore be planted in areas where the temperature does not drop below freezing.
White currant or Gooseberry
The gooseberry grows to a height of about 1,700 meters, its plant is equipped with thorns and its fruits are very similar to the grapes. The peel is transparent and through it you can easily glimpse its seeds inside. The plant is native to the cold areas of northern Europe.
Its fruits are usually destined for the processing industry for the preparation of fruit salads and food jellies.
Used in the right doses, currants have no particular contraindications. The only warning is not to give it to people with water retention caused by kidney failure or heart.
As with other edible dark-colored fruits , blackcurrant was also considered by popular tradition to be able to drive away negative moods. In the past it was used not only to ward off melancholy but also to fight plagues.
Its leaves are particularly fragrant thanks to the presence of glands containing essential oil.
The black currant is used for the preparation of liqueurs such as ratafà and the French liqueur with 20 ° alcoholic creams de cassis.
New Zealand researchers have discovered the presence of a substance called epigallocatechin in black currant. This substance has strong antioxidant properties.
It therefore protects the skin from the harmful effects of UVA rays, but not only. It counteracts inflammation of the lung tissues, thus helping to improve the quality of breathing.
Currants are often collected several times. This is because the ripening of the berries can last up to 3 weeks and the ripe fruits remain on the plants for a long time.
Maybe Not Everyone Knows That
The currant fruits , as well as for direct consumption, are used for the preparation of syrups, jellies, juices, jams, sauces for meat and fish, drinks and liqueurs.
Of all types of fruit, black currant is the one with the highest antioxidant value ( ORAC ) after blueberries.
The cosmetic industry uses oil extracted from seeds for the preparation of skin care products. Creams, lotions and soaps are an example.
The black currant has diaphoretic properties, that is it stimulates sweating, which can be useful in case of fever.
Currant: Properties and Benefits
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