Cassis or black currant: uses, nutrition and properties

The cassis or black currant stands out for its concentration of antioxidants, fiber and other essential nutrients. which are your main benefits? Here we detail them!

Last update: November 10, 2021

The cassis or black currant, whose scientific name is Ribes nigrum, is the fruit of a bush native to Asia and Europe. It is also called cassis or black sarsaparilla. It belongs to the same family as the red and white currant, but its consumption raw is less frequent than the other varieties.

It is born in clusters formed by small berries with smooth and dark skin; in addition, its flavor is acidic and astringent. You could say that they have a strong flavor, but when they mature they acquire a certain sweetness. Either way, they are linked to several positive health effects.

In the seventeenth century a document called “the admirable properties of Cassis” was published in which its medicinal benefits spread. Since then, it has been known as an ally against skin, inflammatory and aging-related diseases. Do you want to know more about it? Keep reading!

Nutritional value of cassis or black currant

Black currant is low in calories, making it ideal for weight-loss or weight-maintenance diets. This fruit provides good amounts of fiber, a nutrient that improves intestinal transit. Likewise, it stands out for its abundant content of vitamin C.

The engineer Anibal Caminti, in his book «cultivation of currants», states that every 100 grams of cassis provides the following:

  • Humidity: 89.
  • Calories: 54.
  • Protein: 1.70.
  • Carbohydrates: 13.
  • Crude fiber: 4.0.
  • Vitamin A: 6 micrograms.
  • Thiamine, B1: 4 milligrams.
  • Riboflavin, B2: 3 milligrams.
  • Niacin: 2 milligrams.
  • Vitamin C: 444 milligrams.
  • Calcium: 7.5 milligrams.
  • Match: 5 milligrams.
  • Iron: 11 milligrams.

Black currants are also rich in antioxidants, which have a favorable impact on health and vitality. The most prominent are the following:

  • Proanthocyanidins: these compounds are precursors of anthocyanins, which give red, white or black color to gooseberries. The most common are delphinidin and cyanidin.
  • Vitamin C: contains 444 milligrams per 100 grams of fruit. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that participates in the neutralization of free radicals and the functions of the immune system.
  • Flavonoids: Contains derivatives of flavonoids such as quercetin, myricetin and kaempferol.
The black currant stands out for its concentration of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidant compounds.

Possible benefits of cassis or black currant

As set out in a review disclosed in Journal of Food Science, black currant is an interesting source of phytochemicals with antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects. Hence, much of its benefits. Let’s see in detail.

1. Kidney health

The presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in black currants could prevent chronic kidney disease. According to a post on European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the extract of this fruit helps to inhibit the formation of kidney stones and protects the excretory system from infection and inflammation.

In this same document, the specialists explain that the extract, juice and tea of cassia they increase the pH of the urine, which makes it more alkaline. By the way, it stimulates the elimination of oxalic acid and citric acid when they accumulate in excess.

2. Inflammation

Consuming anti-inflammatory foods like black currants helps in the prevention of inflammatory diseases. Some of these are liver, kidney, heart, neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s and dementia), among others.

In the magazine Nutrients refer to the anthocyanins present in black currants. This study determined that extracts of cassia they are capable of suppressing the activity of pro-inflammatory components in the immune system of laboratory animals.

On the other hand, the currant seed provides omega-6 fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid or GLA. According to another study, it reduces inflammation in the body. In this way, both anthocyanins and GLA found in blackcurrant, may reduce joint and muscle pain and inflammation.

3. Immune system

Vitamin C and anthocyanins can strengthen the immune system. Furthermore, a doctoral thesis study in rats found that gamma-linolenic acid may have an immunomodulatory effect.

On the other hand, in a group of healthy elderly who were supplemented with blackcurrant seed oil, a moderate immune-enhancing effect was found attributable to the presence of the fatty acid GLA.

4. Digestion

Animal studies found that black currant extract may have an antispasmodic effect on the gastrointestinal tract. These qualities may have to do with its flavonoid content. This could even be a reason to declare it as a functional food.

Other research has also looked at the antispasmodic effect of blackcurrant. The presence of flavonoids in the fruit and leaves inhibit spasms in the stomach and intestines. Its astringent effect allows its use in case of diarrhea.

5. Visual health

An investigation published in Journal of Ocular Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that regular consumption of black currants can stop vision loss or symptoms associated with glaucoma.

The study highlights that anthocyanins increase blood flow in the optic nerves and in the eyes. What’s more, can improve diabetic retinopathy and retinal vein and artery occlusion.

6. Type 2 diabetes

Research concluded that different anthocyanins in black currant, such as cyanidin, delphinidin, and peonidin, can improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes.

On the other hand, the magazine Nutrients refers that anthocyanins are capable of inhibiting the activity of carbohydrate-degrading enzymes. In this way, the digestion of carbohydrates as a source of glucose is slowed, and unexpected spikes in blood sugar levels are prevented.

7. Heart health

Consuming black currant is also good for taking care of the heart. An investigation into the effect of anthocyanins in the control of cholesterol in the blood revealed that diets abundant in this pigment decrease total cholesterol levels and “bad” or LDL cholesterol. In turn, it was associated with an increase in “good” cholesterol, or HDL.

In another study, pure blackcurrant juice was analyzed as an antioxidant drink. In this it was determined that its intake for one week was useful to prevent the oxidation of body fat.

In turn, through Journal of Nutrition it was reported that blackcurrant powder increases the blood flow of the heart and decreases general peripheral resistance.

8. Skin health

A group of skin health specialists found that a polysaccharide of cassis or CAPS has anti-inflammatory effects. This makes it possible to control the production of pro-inflammatory compounds in the immune system.

In turn, the fatty acids in the seed of this fruit help to suppress the inflammatory mediators of the skin. For this reason, the magazine American Journal of Clinical Nurition recommends applying black currant seed oil to care and nourish the skin without complications.

9. Neurodegenerative diseases

The potential of black currants as an antioxidant has been reported, reporting a 65% inhibition of lipid peroxidation in the body. In laboratory animals the protective role of black currants on the central nervous system.

It seems that these fruits help reduce neuroinflammation, which also improves memory, learning and cognitive abilities. In addition, since it inhibits the action of free radicals, it acts as a protector against diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

As part of a healthy and varied diet, the consumption of black currant can contribute to the prevention of chronic diseases.

Where to find them and how to consume them?

The cassis or black currant can be found in supermarkets and greengrocers. It is also available in other presentations, such as oils, syrups, smoothies, puddings, liqueurs, pills, capsules, and powders.

It is also present in certain products. For example, due to its acidic and astringent taste, it is used in the following:

  • Jams
  • Vinaigrettes
  • Jellies.
  • Ice creams.
  • Yogurts
  • Salads
  • Cream cassis (recipe appreciated in France).

It has a high content of pectin type fiber and other properties that make it a good option to improve certain recipes, especially those that require spicy sweetness.

  • A glass of juice cassis or black currant a day.
  • 5 to 10 milliliters of cassis syrup per day.
  • About 4 capsules of 250 milligrams per day, 2 times a day.
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of leaves, three to four times a day.

Black currant is one of the berry varieties with the highest concentration of nutrients. Its content of antioxidants, vitamin C and fatty acids enhance its health benefits. In addition, it is versatile in relation to gastronomy, since it has different forms of consumption, such as jams, combined with yogurts, ice cream, juices, etc.

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