As the old saying goes, good things come in small packages. And that is certainly true of New Zealand's remarkable little purple berry - the blackcurrant.
Bold in taste and overflowing with vital nutrients and potent antioxidants called anthocyanins, these little berries have been used by traditional healers for centuries around the world.
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But it's only recently that scientists have begun to investigate their healing and protective powers.
A vitamin superstar
Blackcurrants have twice the vitamin C per serving than oranges or green kiwifruit and at least 16 times more than blueberries. The body uses vitamin C to metabolise protein and form collagen, which is essential for skin care and anti-aging.
In addition to vitamin C, blackcurrants have plenty of antioxidants and anthocyanins. These can help strengthen your immune system, soothe sore throats, and ease flu symptoms.
To boost your immune system, pop a handful of frozen blackcurrants (a portion is 125g) into your morning smoothie or on your cereal.
Find yourself slumping at your desk mid-afternoon? Try swapping your energy drink for a fruity tea made using an unsweetened blackcurrant fruit syrup.
A study undertaken by New Zealand's Plant and Food Research, in collaboration with Britain's Northumbria University, shows the compounds in New Zealand blackcurrants help people think sharper when under stress as well as reduce mental fatigue.
Help your skin kick the winter blues
Instead of raiding the shops for your next face mask fix, why not look a little closer to home?
Create your own spa-worthy homemade face mask using the contents of your fridge. The antioxidant properties of blackcurrants can help effectively neutralise harmful free radicals which damage skin cells.
- 2 x tablespoons of juice squeezed from defrosted frozen blackcurrants
- 1 x tablespoon natural yoghurt
- 1 x tablespoon honey
- Mix well and do a quick patch test.
- Apply to your face, wait for 20 mins and wash off with cool water.
A top source of calcium
Calcium plays crucial roles in your body. It's well known for its ability to build and maintain your bones, yet this mineral is also important for muscle contraction and nerve function.
Blackcurrants have the highest level of easily absorbed calcium per serving than any other fresh fruit, making them great for bone health, muscle and nerve function.
For a bit of blackcurrant inspired fare, make a blackcurrant jus to accompany roast lamb, add blackcurrants to your next muffin mixture or try infusing blackcurrants into mayonnaise. It has a shock value with its stunning colour and is incredibly good as a dipping sauce for veggies or prawns.
Check out more about the tiny purple powerhouses at the New Zealand Blackcurrant Co-operative.