With our healthcare system in crisis, taking care of your health has never been a hotter topic, with experts identifying and recommending specific foods that may offer fast-acting benefits for long-term health wins.
Regular exercise, reducing stress levels and eating lots of fruit and vegetables, especially dark ‘purple’ berry fruits, are all important when it comes to health, wellness and prevention.
Strong evidence is showing1,2,3,4,5, that as a nation we should be upping our dietary levels of polyphenolic compounds called anthocyanins.
Recognised as some of the most important bioactives in the human diet8,9, these compounds are becoming synonymous with a spectrum of lifespan-essential health-protecting benefits, such as promoting blood flow.
Healthy circulation is the key to longevity13 and essential for the function of vital organs, keeping the brain sharp and enjoying an active lifestyle.
Anthocyanins are the colour pigments that protect plants against pests, UV light and disease, with the highest concentrations found in berries - and particularly blackcurrants.
Recent studies have shown that New Zealand blackcurrants were estimated to reverse the consequences of ageing by ten years after only seven days’ intake of the CurraNZ extract11.
Recent investigations involving almost 60,000 adults in Europe2,3, and the US5,6 highlight the important role of anthocyanins for cardiac protection, yet despite this, no guidelines exist for recommended intake.
So, are you consuming enough?
For the last decade, Professor Mark Willems of the University of Chichester has made major breakthroughs to reveal the moderate-to-large changes that blackcurrants can have on cardiovascular function and health.
Professor Willems believes the evidence is building that we need to eat more fruit, especially berries and vegetables rich in these compounds, or supplement with high-value functional foods, through fortification or taking anthocyanin supplements.
He says: “We fortify animal feeds with these functional food components and the same could be done with food for human consumption to affect human health.
“We’ve seen in research that somehow, blackcurrant compounds are making blood vessels healthier and younger.
“It is an important finding that the ease of intake of blackcurrant extract can act as a preventive to provide beneficial effects on our blood vessels.”
Adding two ‘purple’ foods a day, ie two handfuls of dark-coloured berries, on top of our ‘five a day’ is a good starting point.
CurraNZ, as a concentrated source of blackcurrant anthocyanins, is also a great way to supplement your diet, with one capsule delivering 105mg, the equivalent to a large handful of fresh blackcurrants.
But regardless of your age, it’s never too late to include more anthocyanins into your daily regime.
- Dietary anthocyanins and health: data from FLORA and ATHENA EU projects. BR J Clin Pharmcol.2017 doi:10.111.bcp.12943 Intro reverence . 2007 Mar;85(3):895-909. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.3.895.
- A Review of the Properties of Anthocyanins and Their Influence on Factors Affecting Cardiometabolic and Cognitive Health Nutrients,2021 Aug 18;13(8):2831. doi: 10.3390/nu13082831.
- Effects of Anthocyanins on Vascular Health Biomolecules,2021 May 30;11(6):811. doi: 10.3390/biom11060811.
- Flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease mortality: a prospective study in postmenopausal women Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Mar;85(3):895-909. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/85.3.895.
- Higher anthocyanin intake is associated with lower arterial stiffness and central blood pressure in women The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 96, Issue 4, October 2012, Pages 781–788, https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.112.042036
- Dietary Phytochemicals: Natural Swords Combating Inflammation and Oxidation-Mediated Degenerative Diseases Oxidative Medicine and Cellular LongevityVolume 2016 |Article ID 5137431 | https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/5137431
- Antioxidant capacity of small dark fruits: Influence of cultivars and harvest time Journal of Berry Research 4 (2014) 97–105 DOI:10.3233/JBR-140071
- Anthocyanins and Human Health: An In Vitro Investigative Approach Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology • 2004:5 (2004) 306–313 • PII. S111072430440401X
- Effect of Intake Duration of Anthocyanin-rich New Zealand Blackcurrant Extract on Cardiovascular Responses and Femoral Artery Diameter during Sustained Submaximal Isometric Contraction, Journal of Dietary Supplements, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1080/19390211.2021.1948943
- New Zealand Blackcurrant Alters Physiological Reponses and Femoral Artery Diameter during Sustained Isometric Contraction. Matthew David Cook, Stephen David Myers, Mandy Lucinda Gault and Mark Elisabeth Theodorus Willems, June 2017 Nutrients 2017, 9(6), 556; doi:10.3390/nu9060556
- Effects of blackcurrant extract on arterial functions in older adults: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial. T Okamoto, Y Hashimoto, R Kobayashi, K Nakazato, M Willems. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypertension. (2020)
- Effect of New Zealand Blackcurrant on Blood Pressure, Cognitive Function and Functional Performance in Older Adults. Journal of Nutrition in Gerontology and Geriatrics (2019) M Cook, A Kaur Sandu, & J Patricia Joyce. DOI: 10.1080/21551197.2019.1707740
- Cognitive Health of Nonagenarians in Southern Italy: A Descriptive Analysis from a Cross-Sectional, Home-Based Pilot Study of Exceptional Longevity (Cilento Initiative on Aging Outcomes Or CIAO) Medicina (Kaunas) 2020 May 5;56(5):218. doi: 10.3390/medicina56050218.
- Cardiovascular function during Supine Rest in Endurance-Trained Males with New Zealand Blackcurrant: A Dose-Response Study, Matthew David Cook, Stephen David Myers · Mandy Lucinda Gault · Victoria Charlotte Edwards · Mark Elisabeth Theodorus Willems, 1 3Eur J Appl Physiol (2017) 117:247–254DOI 10.1007/s00421-016-3512-x
- A Systematic Analysis for the Global burden of Disease Study 2015, The Lancet, Vol 386, Issue 10010, P2287-2323
- Intake Duration of Anthocyanin-Rich NZBE Affects Metabolic Responses during Moderate Intensity Walking Exercise in Adult Males. Sahin MA, Montananari S, Willems M, Journal of Dietary Supuplements, June 2020 https://doi.org/10.1080/19390211.2020.1783421
- New Zealand Blackcurrant Extract Enhances Forearm Muscle Oxygenation During and Following Isolated Exhaustive Forearm Exercise in Intermediate-Level Rock Climbers, S Fry, J Potter, I Perkins, C Paterson, M Willems, C Gloucester. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0365
- New Zealand blackcurrant extract enhances muscle oxygenation during repeated intermittent forearm muscle contractions in advanced and elite rock climbers, * Simon Fryer1, Dave Giles2, Ellis Bird3, Keeron Stone1, Craig Paterson1, Jiří Baláš4, Mark ET Willems3, Julia A Potter3, Ian C Perkins3. European Journal of Sports Science. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1123/ijsnem.2019-0365