Media release: NZ Blackcurrant Culinary Advisory Service
NZ Blackcurrant Farming Scientist May Have Found an Answer for Endurance Sports Muscle Cramp and Fatigue.
A Canterbury blackcurrant farmer cum practicing science consultant, Jane Lancaster,
might have uncovered a cure for lactic acid muscle cramp and a way for endurance
athletes to improve performance.
Jane Lancaster has just concluded a study on the proven health benefits of Blackcurrants.
The NZ Blackcurrant Cooperative asked Jane to review international scientific evidence
from clinical trials using Blackcurrants. The objective was to understand how an extract
of NZ Blackcurrants was so successful in Japan where they are consumed in a health
supplement to reduce dark rings under the eyes for young Japanese women.
Frozen NZ Blackcurrants haven’t traditionally been available to New Zealand consumers
but in a joint venture between the Blackcurrants Cooperative and Nelson-based Sujon
berryfruits, frozen Blackcurrants are now available as a food in New Zealand. The
Japanese health supplement is made from New Zealand Blackcurrants.
“We are looking for consumer values relevant to New Zealanders,” says Bill Floyd from
the NZ Blackcurrant Culinary Advisory Service. “There’s a huge amount of folklore
about Blackcurrants but we wanted to base our claims on real, irrefutable scientific
evidence. And if research showed promise but no guarantees we wanted to make sure we
said that as well. The Vitamin C issue for one Blackcurrant marketer recently means we
needed to be doubly sure of everything we said when we launched the new product in the
“When we looked for someone to do the work we realised that Jane was perfect,” says
Floyd. “She’s an international peer reviewer for major scientific publications and
understands the definition of robust proof and critical analysis. She’s a world renowned
food scientist. And she’s a NZ Blackcurrant farmer in partnership with her husband, a
former plant breeder.”
“Jane looked at all research using Blackcurrants and anthocyanins where clinical trials
proved effectiveness on humans and where the trials used randomized, double-blind
placebo controlled tests: results based on this method are what are used to prove
medicines for major health issues,” says Floyd.
“I was intrigued by the Japanese focus on using Blackcurrants to make the eyes more
beautiful,” says Lancaster. “The excellent research done by the Japanese showed that the
cause is primarily from a special class of antioxidants in Blackcurrants called
anthocyanins. These are what makes the Blackcurrants skin and juice that incredibly rich
black-purple-red colour. And because of the NZ climate and type of varieties grown, NZ
Blackcurrants have the highest levels of these antioxidants than those grown elsewhere,”
“But although the study started looking at eye beauty, the research showed some other
values which could be far more important for the NZ lifestyle.“ says Lancaster. The
studies showed that taking an ordinary serving of Blackcurrants (say the equivalent of
two dessertspoonfuls) dramatically improved blood circulation by as much as a factor of
40% and led to reduced muscle stiffness, cramp and fatigue symptoms. This is because
the anthocyanins improve blood circulation in stressed muscle tissue. In the tests this was
measured on forearms and shoulders, but the effect, a relaxation of blood vessels, applies
across the body. Continuous muscle contraction shrinks blood vessels in the muscle
group concerned and stifles the body’s ability to remove metabolites such as lactic acid.
And muscle stiffness, pain and cramping can result. This lactic acid buildup is what
defeats most endurance athletes.”
“The idea that taking a pleasant shooter glass of a totally natural, drug-free Blackcurrant
smoothie will reduce that buildup, is quite exciting,” says Floyd. “We’ll now look at
initiating collaborative research with, for example, a sports fitness centre,” says Floyd.
We have the scientific evidence and it’s a matter of giving people for example, a
Blackcurrants fruit smoothie and monitoring performance. The clinical trials show that
the benefits start about an hour after taking the Blackcurrants and last for another 3 hours.
So a serving twice a day at breakfast and lunch would be the aim. And not that we want
to favour any sports group, but given that the Blackcurrant industry is totally centred in
Crusader country (Canterbury and Nelson) we like the idea of the Red and Blacks
proving the idea with their own unique Black currants!”
For further information:
Jane Lancaster, Catalyst® R&D Ltd: tele email
Bill Floyd NZ Blackcurrant Culinary Advisory Service tele email
Attached: Full review of scientific papers prepared by Jane Lancaster under a research
grant funded by the NZ Blackcurrant Cooperative.
Latest NZ research on the health benefits of blackcurrants - exercise recovery and immunity
In October 2011 Plant & Food Research Ltd hosted a congress in Tokyo Japan to showcase their research to New Zealand industry clients.
The latest NZ research presented at the conference by Dr Roger Hurst (Plant & Food Research Ltd.) - 'Sports Performance and Recovery - the Science'