New study shows further health benefits of NZ blackcurrants

There's more positive news for the New Zealand blackcurrant industry, with a new study showing more health benefits from the berries.

The study by scientists at Plant & Food Research has found that an extract from New Zealand blackcurrants could offer benefits for people with an active lifestyle.

The research, published in Frontiers in Nutrition, contributes to the mounting research around the benefits of anthocyanin-rich New Zealand blackcurrants on exercise recovery and post-exercise immune function. 

 "The growing body of research suggests that consumption of New Zealand blackcurrants may have real benefits for those living an active lifestyle," said Biomedical Scientist, Dr Roger Hurst Biomedical Scientist who leads the team at Plant & Food Research.

The new study looked at the minimum serve size required and found that consumption of a single serve of 1.6mg of New Zealand blackcurrant anthocyanins per kg of bodyweight taken one hour before exercise had positive effects on exercise recovery. 

According to the study, the benefits are unlikely to be attributable to the antioxidant properties of the extract and more likely due to the blackcurrant extract activating adaptive defensive pathways in cells and tissues. 

A separate pilot trial explored the effects of the New Zealand Blackcurrant supplement on immune function, which can be compromised following prolonged or intense exercise. 

The researchers looked at neutrophils - the body's first line of defence against infection - and found that consumption of the New Zealand blackcurrant extract one hour prior to exercise preserved circulating neutrophil function. 

"This is a significant finding that could benefit active people wanting to maintain performance and avoid decreased immune function that can accompany training," said Dr Hurst. 

"We know functional foods can deliver specific health benefits. The evidence is now mounting that New Zealand blackcurrants could help people have a more active lifestyle." 

Previous studies by the team at Plant & Food Research found that New Zealand blackcurrants could promote a positive mood and the desire to exercise for longer. 

Blackcurrants have been grown commercially in New Zealand for over 40 years, predominantly in Nelson and Canterbury.