The humble blackcurrant is the ultimate “superfruit” which can help fight cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s, new findings show.
The berry is far more nutritious than more exotic fruits such as goji berries and blueberries, favoured by celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow and Madonna, and has the benefit of being home-grown, scientists claim.
Research by Dr Derek Stewart, of the Scottish Crop Research Institute (SCRI), has found the blackcurrant contains greater levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than 20 other fruits tested.
Crucially the amount of antioxidants means that eating blackcurrants can help prevent cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, eye strain, MRSA and diabetes, among other ailments.
The study looked at 20 fruits and measured the levels of antioxidants and the nutritional value. In the majority of cases the blackcurrant outperformed its rivals.
Dr Stewart, the head of the quality, health and nutrition programme at SCRI, said: “The motivation for the research came from the huge publicity surrounding superfruits, coupled with the lack of consumer knowledge and understanding of what a superfruit is or what a fruit must contain. We wanted to find out which fruit came out on top. And blackcurrants can claim to be the number one superfruit.”
As well as blackcurrants, researchers analysed apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, grapes, lemons, mangoes, melons, oranges, passion fruit, peaches, pears, pomegranate, raspberries and strawberries.
Dr Stewart added: “From a quick overview it is clear those with a deep purple or red colour perform particularly well, the darker the fruit the higher the antioxidant content. Blackcurrants are very dark purple in colour and in line with these indicators, comes out top in the majority of the categories.”
For some time goji berries, shipped in from the Himalayas, and American blueberries, were thought to offer the best health benefits.
At £2 for a 60g bag, gojis do not come cheap, whereas pick-your-own farms in Britain offer blackcurrants at about £3.99 per kilo, about 24p for 60g.
Blackcurrants are seasonal and harvested in July and August. The total British blackcurrant crop can range from 12,000 to 14,000 tons a year.