New research has added further weight to claims that New Zealand blackcurrants are a 'super fruit' for those with an active lifestyle.
Scientists at Plant & Food Research New Zealand, in collaboration with Northumbria University (UK), have shown that consumption of a juice made from the blackcurrants can produce a short-term effect on physiological processes which may be associated with a positive mood.
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A second study has further shown New Zealand blackcurrant juice consumption before exercise increased the desire to exercise for longer.
"As people live longer, foods and ingredients that will support a healthy lifestyle are becoming increasingly in demand," said Dr Roger Hurst, Science Group Leader Food & Wellness at Plant & Food Research.
"Our research over the last few years suggests that New Zealand blackcurrants can support multiple aspects of an active lifestyle - providing people with the right mindset and motivation to exercise, as well as supporting the inherent health benefits of regular exercise," said Dr Hurst.
The first study, published in the journal Nutritional Neuroscience, showed a complete reduction in the activity of monoamine oxidase-B (MAO-B), an enzyme that degrades the 'happiness' hormone dopamine, within 45 minutes of consumption of a New Zealand blackcurrant juice. It then slowly returns to near-baseline levels 24 hours later.
The second study, presented at the Innovations in Food Science and Human Nutrition conference, showed that while undertaking a gentle walking exercise, study participants who consumed blackcurrant juice voluntarily exercised for longer and reported a more positive mood during the exercise.
The participants also had reduced levels of MAO-B.
Previous research by Plant & Food Research has found that anthocyanin-rich extracts from New Zealand-grown blackcurrants improve exercise recovery by managing exercise-induced oxidative stress and inflammation, improving immunity and minimising muscle damage.
Blackcurrants have been grown commercially in New Zealand for over 40 years, predominantly in Nelson and Canterbury.