New Zealand blackcurrant extract found to protect body from exercise stress

Posted: December 3, 2009 in anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, berries, Blackcurrant, Blackcurrants, Exercise Recovery, Food, food research, Health, Health Supplements, Plant research, Recovery, Supplements

New Zealand-based Plant & Food Research scientists have discovered an extract from New Zealand blackcurrants that could help protect the body from the stresses of exercise.

Researchers have found signs that the extract – taken in capsule form before and after exercise – has three combined effects: minimising muscle damage by modulating oxidative stress, reducing inflammation and potentially enhancing the body’s natural defences against disease. The findings are  published in the ‘American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative Comparative Physiology’.

Biomedical scientist Dr Roger Hurst leads the Plant & Food Research team and says blackcurrants have long been known to have health promoting properties. In recent years there has been emerging evidence that some of the flavonoids in the fruit have a role in antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune mechanisms in the body.

The extract tested was from New Zealand blackcurrants, was rich in anthocyanins but had very little vitamin C.

“In our experiments, we chose a group of ten healthy everyday people with a wide age range who exercised regularly and measured biochemical indicators to assess the effect of taking the blackcurrant extract capsules before and after exercise,” says Dr Hurst. “We found changes in the levels of compounds that indicate antioxidant activity, inflammation modulating ability and a support for the natural immune responsiveness to potential pathogens.”

The blackcurrant finding is from a preliminary study undertaken and supported by Plant & Food Research and underpins a research programme called ‘New Berries’ funded by the Government and the New Zealand Blackcurrant Industry. This programme investigates the antioxidant and immune supportive properties of berryfruit and products and aims to use this knowledge to breed elite New Zealand berries with assured health-promoting properties that will have multiple end-uses including the development of functional foods.

Plant & Food Business Manager for Food Innovations Karl Crawford says the paper has generated strong interest from industry and has also highlighted new areas for further research.

“This is early stage research, which by its very nature often raises as many questions as it answers. That is certainly the case here. We know we’re on the right track in our belief that fruit extracts, combined with exercise, can have a beneficial effect on human health. In essence, this latest study is predictive – it is showing us where we need to look if we want to really maximise the health potential of fruit.

“We know fruit and vegetables are good for us, and science obviously has an in-depth understanding of fruit composition and the potentially beneficial effects of fruit compounds at a cellular level. This paper is part of one of the fastest growing areas in food and health research – looking to build knowledge that links those two areas of established science. It is exciting for consumers because the link for them will come in the form of new functional food products that deliver a proven, specific benefit to their health and wellbeing.”

“We’re talking about the potential to focus wellness benefits from foods. That means moving from, say, broad claims about potential antioxidant function toward far more specific information about benefits and the mode of action behind them.”

Ref Science Paper Source: http://ajpregu.physiology.org/cgi/content/abstract/90740.2008v1

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