Blueberries Reign but Black Currants Win

A True Superfruit and Nutritional Powerhouse

Loaded with antioxidants that protect the brain — and rich in anthocyanidins to strengthen the cardiovascular system, Black Currants are a nutritional treasure.

Black Currants, a forgotten fruit in most American diets (but still popular in Europe), win over blueberries when it comes to nutritional value. Rich in antioxidants that protect the brain, and shown to thwart Alzheimer’s, according to a 2006 Tufts University study, black currants were also cited in research undertaken at the Scottish Crop Research Institute by Dr. Derek Stewart, which compared the properties of the 20 most popular superfruits, “New superfoods may be seen as trendy, but this is a fruit that has incredible levels of vitamins and minerals. The beneficial composition and impact in health-related studies mean that black currants now claim to be the new superfood.”

The commercial cultivation of Currants in the U.S was outlawed in 1911 when Congress approved a bill stemming from the the lumber industry’s claim that a botanical disease known as White Pine Blister Rust, needed both the White Pine and Currants to complete its destructive cycle. This threatened to wipe out the then valuable White Pine industry and the ban resulted in currants disappearing from America’s Health Food consciousness. A few years ago, however, in 2003, a New York State farmer resurrected the issue and won, overturning the law in New York by demonstrating that ‘new’ White Pines were resistant to ‘Rust.’ Although a reprieve was gained for Black Currants grown in New York State, it remains illegal in several states.

Black currants are a significantly higher source in antioxidants than blueberries and boast three times the amount of Vitamin C found in oranges. They also contain significant amounts of vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium, copper and soluble fiber. Plus, they are rich in phytochemicals called anthocyanidins which are associated with anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits. Anthocyanidins are the plant pigments that give black currants their dark color and strengthen the cardiovascular system by preventing destructive enzymes from attaching to arteries and vessel walls. Higher levels of bioavailable anthocyanidins are associated with darker pigments in fruits.

For an additional nutritional boost, combine anthocyanidin-rich berries with plant-based foods rich in omega-3’s. (like walnuts). A recent study published in the British Journal of Medicine noted the synergistic effects between the two nutrients.

Although few recipes include black currants, their astringent flavor make them a popular addition to chutneys and sauces that accent poultry, meat and fish. You can also substitute black currants in any blueberry recipe, or add them to berry dishes for a nutritional boost.

Grain Dishes and salads also benefit from this nutritional powerhouse

Bitter Green Salad with Black Currants and Goat Cheese

1 Bunch Organic Dandelion Greens
1 Clove Garlic minced
2 Tbs Olive Oil
Salt and Cracked Pepper
1/2 Bunch Cilantro
1 Cup Black Currants
3 ounces Crumbled Goat Cheese
1/4 cup Raw Pumpkin Seeds

1. Crisp and tear dandelion greens and combine with chopped Cilantro.
2. Add minced garlic, goat cheese, black currants, and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.
3. Combine with olive oil, splash of lemon, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss well before serving.

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