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New brain health research highlights unexpected discovery of nutrient in New Zealand blackcurrants

on March 14, 2019

WANT to stay sharp into your old age and support brain health naturally through diet? According to research, blackcurrants could hold the key.   

Exciting research is suggesting you may be able to boost your brain power and keep your brain healthy with anthocyanins, naturally-occurring fruit pigments that New Zealand blackcurrants are becoming famous for.

There is mounting evidence that diet and lifestyle play an important role in brain health and preventing age-related health disorders, and eating a flavonoid-rich diet may improve your brain health, cognitive function and memory.

Studies have found that flavonoids found in berries improve blood flow to the brain and also increase the number of, and strengthen the connections between, neurons, because of their suggested ability to improve cell signalling.6

Now, researchers in New Zealand are excited about the discovery that locally-grown blackcurrants naturally contain a nutrient – or to be specific, a neuropeptide - called cyclic Glycine-Proline (cGP), which is important for maintaining brain function as we age.

The paper9, published in the Journal Nutrients last year, found 600mg daily intake of a New Zealand blackcurrant extract for 28 days increased cGP levels by 19% in subjects tested in the study.

According to the New Zealand Herald, the scientist leading the project, Dr Jian Guan, an associate professor at the University of Auckland Centre for Brain Research, came across this world-first finding in blackcurrants by pure chance in the course of her research. 

The newspaper reports she found patients who were consuming this New Zealand berry fruit as part of their diets had elevated levels of cGP. The findings are exciting because: "it is something completely natural with potential to support the health of ageing people and their lifestyles". 

Dr Guan says there are strong possibilities for New Zealand blackcurrants to be used in benefiting people with other health issues. “It’s unique to see a response like this in a natural product,”  she says. 



  1. Effect of flavonoids on learning, memory and neurocognitive performance: relevance and potential implications for Alzheimer's disease pathophysiology. Vauzour DJ Sci Food Agric.2014 Apr;94(6):1042-56. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6473. Epub 2013 Dec 12.
  2. Dietary levels of pure flavonoids improve spatial memory performance and increase hippocampal brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Rendeiro C1Vauzour DRattray MWaffo-Téguo PMérillon JMButler LTWilliams CMSpencer JPPLoS One.2013 May 28;8(5):e63535. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0063535. Print 2013.
  3. Dietary polyphenols as modulators of brain functions: biological actions and molecular mechanisms underpinning their beneficial effects. Vauzour D. vOxid Med Cell Longev.2012;2012:914273. doi: 10.1155/2012/914273. Epub 2012 Jun
  4. Neuroinflammation: modulation by flavonoids and mechanisms of action. Spencer JP1Vafeiadou KWilliams RJVauzour DMol Aspects Med.2012 Feb;33(1):83-97. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2011.10.016. Epub 2011 Nov 15.
  5. Polyphenols and human health: prevention of disease and mechanisms of action. Vauzour D1Rodriguez-Mateos ACorona GOruna-Concha MJSpencer JPNutrients.2010 Nov;2(11):1106-31. doi: 10.3390/nu2111106. Epub 2010 Nov 8.
  6. Flavonoids and cognition: the molecular mechanisms underlying their behavioural effects. Spencer JP1Vauzour DRendeiro CArch Biochem Biophys.2009 Dec;492(1-2):1-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Oct 12.
  7. The neuroprotective potential of flavonoids: a multiplicity of effects. Vauzour D1Vafeiadou KRodriguez-Mateos ARendeiro CSpencer JPGenes Nutr. 2008 Dec;3(3-4):115-26. doi: 10.1007/s12263-008-0091-4.Brain Res. 2014 Mar 25;1555:60-77. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2014.01.047. Epub 2014 Feb 3.
  8. Neuroprotective effects of anthocyanin- and proanthocyanidin-rich extracts in cellular models of Parkinson׳s disease.Strathearn KE1Yousef GG2Grace MH2Roy SL1Tambe MA1Ferruzzi MG3Wu QL4Simon JE4Lila MA2Rochet JC5.
  9. Supplementation of Blackcurrant Anthocyanins Increased Cyclic Glycine-Proline in the Cerebrospinal Fluid of Parkinson Patients: Potential Treatment to Improve Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Function. Fan D1,2,3Alamri Y4,5,6Liu K7,8,9MacAskill M10Harris P11Brimble M12,13Dalrymple-Alford J14,15,16Prickett T17Menzies O18Laurenson A19Anderson T20,21,22,23,24,25Guan J26,27,28. Nutrients 2018 Jun 2;10(6). pii: E714. doi: 10.3390/nu10060714.