© Margo555 | Dreamstime.com
I love this time of year because my garden is full of delicious, ripe berries. By now, you probably know that berries are good for you; blueberries and raspberries have a whole host of health benefits, including improving heart health and slowing down the aging process. But while most of us are familiar with these more commonly consumed berries, there are many different options to choose from.
From elderberries to acai to goji berries, you don’t have to be bored when it comes to eating berries for health. Now, you can add black currants to the list; one of the most important black currant benefits is boosting your brainpower.
Black currants: antioxidant powerhouses
Black currants are a rich source of antioxidants called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are naturally found in foods that are red and purple, especially berries like black currants. Anthocyanins are excellent for lowering inflammation, fighting high blood pressure, and more.
Black currant benefits for cognitive function
The Journal of Functional Foods published a study in August of 2015 on the effects of black currant extracts on cognitive performance in a small sample of healthy young adults. The 36 participants consumed a drink with either of two types of black currant preparations (DelCyan or Blackadder), or placebo. They then performed three tasks that measured aspects like attention, response time, memory, and cognitive flexibility and rated their mood. After drinking either of the drinks with blackcurrant extract, the participants performed better on these tasks, showing better cognitive performance than those who drank placebo. Mood also improved while mental fatigue decreased.
While the anthocyanin content of black currants likely plays a large role in these effects, other mechanisms seem to be at play as well. The researchers also did blood tests to measure the activity of monoamine oxidase enzymes (MAO) in the study participants. Monamine neurotransmitters are needed for proper cognitive function and mood; too much activity of MAO leads to reduced monamine neurotransmitter levels and increased oxidative stress.
MAO inhibitors, therefore, are commonly used pharmaceutical drugs used to treat depression and other neurological disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Following black current supplementation in this study, the researchers saw significant reductions in MAO activity, which may partly explain the observed improvements in cognitive function and mood.
Other black currant benefits for your health
Because they are a rich source of antioxidants and other health-promoting nutrients, black currants have a wide range of health benefits. Along with improving mood and cognitive performance, they may also help prevent degenerative diseases, improve function of arteries, and maintain healthy glucose and cholesterol levels.[2-5]
There are many options when it comes to boosting your black currant intake. One option is to take it as a supplement; try 500 to 1,000 mg daily. Or, you can drink black currant juice (try adding it to smoothies). The berries themselves can be eaten raw, although they are quite sour, or cooked into a variety of foods like muffins and other baked goods.
Share your experience
Do you eat black currants, or do you take the extract as a supplement? Share your tips for boosting black currant intake in the comments section below.