Currants’ history dates back to the 14th century A.D evidenced by its cultivation in Greece. It has been used in China for centuries as diuretics, febrifuge, and as ingredients in wine, jams and juices. In pre-colonial America, wild currant was used by native American Indians medicinally. Did you know that early in the 20th century, all cultivation and importation of currant were banned in the U.S.? This is because currants were found to carry a disease that kill pine tree called White Pine Blister Rust. It was only in 1966 that the ban was lifted and a disease resistant black currant was developed.
Black currant is a small shrub that grows 5 to 6 feet tall. Its scientific name is ribes nigrum and is a member of the grossulariaceae family. It is woody and stout with maple-like leaves. When in season, the plant produces a chain of small berries that measures about 1cm inch in diameter with deep dark purple to almost black glossy skin. The fruit also has an incessant calyx at the apex with 3 to 10 seeds inside. It is very much resistant to cold but will not thrive in hot or dry weather. As compared with the red and white varieties which are sweeter, the black currant tastes tart, but has more nutritional values and is slightly larger.
It’s high in Vitamin A, including B1, B5 & B6. It’s also extremely rich in vitamin C, which is 3 times as much as an orange making it so effective in preventing joint inflammation and urinary infections. Vitamin C is also used by the body to metabolize protein and form collagen. Black currant is also an excellent source of essential minerals like Iron, copper, phosphorus, manganese, magnesium, and potassium which are all needed by your body for good metabolism. This super berry is considered as one of the best sources of antioxidant, in fact twice the amount found in blueberries. It also has a very significant amount of anthocyanins, a phenolic flavonoid phytochemical that is highly effective in fighting cancer, inflammation, aging and neurological diseases. Anthocyanin is a natural pigment that gives currant its deep purple color. Black currant has an ORAC value of 7950, one of the highest values for a fruit. In Europe, women take black currant to ease up their PMS and menopause symptoms. Seed oil from black currant can be used to treat a variety of skin diseases like psoriasis and eczema.
When taken in food quantity, black currant is safe. May not be safe for pregnant and breastfeeding women. As a precautionary measure, individuals with bleeding disorder are to avoid using blackberry as it may cause bruising and bleeding. Always stay on the safe side.
Black currant fun fact: Black currant variety was first cultivated in 11th century Russia where it was grown in monastery gardens.
Eat clean. Stay fit.
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