Black Currant, scientifically known as Ribes nigrum, belonging to family Grossulariaceae, is a small black berry that grows in bunches, having a distinct sharp sweetness. Though they appear to be black, these berries are deep red, blue or purple in color due to the anthocynanins present in them.
Black Currant berries which are native to Europe and Asia have a unique flavor which was popularized by English during WW II. Tea prepared from black currant has great aroma and taste, in addition to various health benefits which makes it exotic drink chosen by the health conscious people.
As storing the delicate seasonal berries is difficult, it is made available throughout the year as jelly, jam, syrup, marmalade and squash. Though black currants are too tart to be eaten raw, it provides great flavor and texture to the recipes in which they are used. Black currant is used to flavor ice-creams, pies, muffins, scones, liqueurs, stews, trifles, parfaits, sorbets and many more dishes.
Health Benefits of Black Currant
Black currant as a whole plant has various health benefits; hence the seed, leaves, stem, roots, fruits and flowers are used for various medicinal purposes. A chemical known as Gamma Linolenic acid (GLA) present in black currant seed oil boosts our immune system, making the body fit to fight various diseases.
The berries are rich source of phenolic flavonoid phytochemicals known as anthocyanins which destroys free radicals and controls diseases like cancer, inflammation, aging and neurological degeneration. Its healing properties are known to ease throat inflammation; hence they are used in preparation of lozenges for sore throats.
Black currants are a rich source of Vitamin C, approximately 181 mg per serving, as much as thrice in that of an orange. They also contain sufficient vitamin A, which is necessary for maintenance of integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is excellent healthy eyes. The diuretic, diaphoretic and febrifuge properties of these berries provide various health benefits to human body. The presence of beta-carotene, zea-xanthin and cryptoxanthin also protects the body from wide range of ailments.
Black currants are used medicinally in treatment of health conditions like:
- Whooping cough
- Arthritis and rheumatism
- Menstrual problems
- Breast tenderness
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Coughs and colds
- Insect bites
- Bladder stones
- Hemorrhoid tumors
- Swelling in mouth and throat
- Lung and oral cancer
Black Currant Oil
Black currant seed oil is very useful, which is known to alleviate many health issues. The omega-6 fatty acid provides relief from stiffness and pain due to RA. It also effectively relieves inflammation which relieves pre-menstrual cramps and tenderness in breasts. Black currant oil provides relief from depression and other symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats related to PMS or menopause.
Externally the oil is applied to provide relief from skin ailments like eczema; in addition it keeps the skin moist and supple.
Research is being conducted to substantiate the claim that black currant oil can destroy only the cancer cells without harming healthy cells. When combined with Herceptin, a drug that fights breast cancer, it increases the effect of the drug in fighting the disease by nearly 30-40 times.
Black Currant Tea
Boil water and add one tablespoon of dried black currant leaves to it. Close the vessel and steep it for few minutes. Strain and drink the healthy infusion for various health benefits.