Cool currants

Here’s my hot tip for the next superfood: blackcurrants. Forget about blueberries imported from Chile during the winter; blackcurrants are tastier, and just as rich in anthocyanins (the deep blue colour that’s a potent antioxidant) and vitamin C. They also have significant amounts of vitamins A and B, and are rich in iron and other useful minerals. New research suggests that they may help to delay or mediate the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. We’ve been drying them for centuries and using them in cakes, biscuits and so on, but it’s time they got the attention they deserve. Red and whitecurrants are useful, too, but it’s the blackcurrants that are the real stars.
It’s not just the fruit that has gifts to offer us. Blackcurrant seeds contain more GLA (gamma linolenic acid) than either starflower or evening primrose seeds. GLA is needed in the body to make an anti-inflammatory hormone called prostaglandin E-1, and it’s worth supplementing it if you suffer from arthritis, premenstrual tension or menopausal problems, eczema or multiple sclerosis. Those are just a few inflammatory conditions in which research has been carried out, but we are finding out more all the time about auto-immune conditions and how to mediate them.
In herbal medicine, we use not just the oil from the seeds, but also a tincture made from blackcurrant buds, which has been shown to raise cortisol levels in the blood, and therefore has a direct anti-inflammatory action. Currants are another example of something that grows here, and is so much part of the furniture that we don’t even notice how wonderful they are.

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