Berries are some of the healthiest foods you can eat, and it is becoming increasingly evident that berries grown in New Zealand are some of the most powerful superfoods on earth.
Ground-breaking New Zealand based research is being conducted into how and why blackcurrants and boysenberries are so beneficial to our health, especially in helping to lift and maintain our brain and lung potential.
At Nutrient Rescue we often talk about the health benefits of eating New Zealand grown blackcurrants and boysenberries, so we thought we’d share some of the science behind how these berries might work towards helping you live a better life, especially with regards to lung, brain and general health.
What is so amazing about blackcurrants and boysenberries?
One of the reasons is that berries are a natural source of anthocyanin antioxidants which research has demonstrated helps with a range of serious health issues. Blackcurrants and boysenberries in particular have especially high levels of anthocyanins compared to other varieties of berries. In fact, blackcurrants contain between 130-460 mg/100g fruit weight of anthocyanins versus blueberries which contain 62-300 mg/100g fruit weight of total anthocyanins. Wow!
Blackcurrants have a high level and complex mix of ﬂavonoids, phytochemicals and polyphenolics, all of which have been shown to have positive health benefits. Blackcurrants are high in antioxidants including Vitamin C which can help to give your immune system a boost allowing your body to fight infection and viruses more effectively. They’re also rich in omega-6 fatty acids called gamma-linoleic acid which plays a crucial role in brain function, and normal growth and development.
Boysenberries, which in addition to being rich in antioxidants, have fibre, Vitamin K, folate, manganese, Vitamin C and more. These berries are known to promote cardiovascular and digestive health, reduce oxidative stress, and in particular have been found to benefit lung health.
Work done by Plant and Food Research NZ has interestingly suggested that in their research they saw blackcurrants and boysenberries acting synergistically. This is reinforced at Canterbury University’s ‘Mental Health and Nutrition’ course, backed by a multitude of research papers which explains there’s no single silver bullet approach, but the human body is made to utilise a wide range of naturally derived micronutrients in order to perform optimally and for wellbeing.
The scientific research behind it all.
Boysenberries for lung health
Findings from Plant and Food Research NZ show that boysenberry consumption may improve lung function by reducing symptoms associated with inflammation of the airways, which can cause conditions such as asthma.
Researchers who conducted a study of 463 adults from Norway and England with average age of 44 saw a relationship between anthocyanin consumption and lung health - the more people ate, the better their lung health.
"A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help protect the lungs against damage, preserving their functionality and reducing the risk of developing respiratory diseases later in life," said the study's lead author, Vanessa Garcia-Larsen.
She explained that by the time people are 30 years old, they've generally reached their peak lung capacity. "After this time, lung function started to slowly decline for everyone. The speed of decline will vary from one person to another, depending on several factors, such as smoking, physical activity, exposure to certain pollutants and the presence of other medical conditions," Garcia-Larsen explained.
She added that a few hours after eating foods such as berries, there was evidence of the flavonoids in lung tissue. This "suggests that [anthocyanin-foods] might have a functional role protecting the lungs against the pollutants and other environmental insults", Garcia-Larsen noted.
The impact of blackcurrants on brain health
Ground-breaking New Zealand research suggests that eating blackcurrants could help maintain brain health as we age.
Studies from the NZ Institute for Plant & Food Research in collaboration with Northumbria University (UK), showed a positive link between New Zealand grown blackcurrants and the effects on brain function.
The research looked at the effects of berry consumption on the cognitive performance of healthy young adults. The scientists were specifically looking for things that inhibit MAO’s (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) which are enzymes that break down important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and noradrenalin, and create hydrogen peroxide which is bad for your brain.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals released by the brain that send specific messages that influence our brain and/or our body. Serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine exert great influence over our impulse control, mood, appetite, cravings, anxiety, motivation, focus, pleasure and ability to emotionally manage stress. Dopamine is also involved in quick, well-coordinated movement. Conditions such as Parkinson’s has been attributed to low dopamine levels and depression, and other mood disorders to low serotonin. Additionally, as we age, we produce less transmitters and produce more MAO’s.
The research suggests that when extracts from New Zealand blackcurrants was taken, the mental performance indicator of reaction time improved, and the activity of MAO’s was reduced.
The potential benefits of the research are significant. If the enzyme, MAO, can be inhibited then it may ensure higher levels of neurotransmitters, which could benefit those that do not have enough. The suggestion that a commonly consumed fruit could potentially help maintain brain health during natural ageing is potentially ground-breaking.
These findings have been published in scientific papers and further research exploring the blackcurrant’s potential role in brain health is expected from researchers to follow.
Why are New Zealand berries better than others?
Blackcurrants and boysenberries are very high in anthocyanins compared to other commercially grown fruit or vegetables. New Zealand’s mineral-rich environment together with its elevated exposure to UV light results in berries with higher anthocyanin content than fruit grown in other parts of the world.
Organic New Zealand grown berries are particularly good, as in addition to everything else they’re also free from chemical residues.
It’s for all these reasons that we purposely chose to include organic blackcurrants and boysenberries in our Double Shot and Red Shot. We’ve harvested the whole berries at their prime, then freeze-dried and powdered it. We’ve not added any preservatives, colouring, sweeteners, or any other additives which is why you’re able to get all the vitamins, minerals and fibre that come from eating these amazing fruits. In fact, one scoop of Double Shot a day gives you 127% of your daily RDI of Vitamin C alongside all the powerful anthocyanins of the berries.
Vanessa Garcia-Larsen, Ph.D., assistant professor of human nutrition, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore; Samantha Heller, M.S., R.D., senior clinical nutritionist, NYU Langone Health System, New York City; May 21, 2018, American Thoracic Society meeting, San Diego