LOOKING TO GET an edge from your fitness and outdoor activities? New Zealand scientists have discovered that blackcurrants may enhance the benefits of exercise and boost recovery.

Scientists are discovering previously unknown benefits of blackcurrants that could be potential game-changers for athletes. Top of the growing list is their ability to improve recovery by reducing muscle soreness, fatigue and tissue damage, as well as improving stamina. Blackcurrant polyphenols, chiefly anthocyanins, are prized for their effect on blood flow, as well as being anti-inflammatory and antioxidant agents.

Research is showing how they boost endurance (by up to 11%) by reducing lactate (1) and enhancing fat oxidation (2). Extreme adventure multi-sport athlete and mountain runner Chris Stirling cottoned onto the benefits of New Zealand blackcurrants last year and now sees them as an “essential” part of his training and racing regime.

Since then he has won Wasdale – the world’s hardest half-Ironman – and clocked two second-place finishes at the Celtman Extreme triathlon. Chris says: “I first came across New Zealand blackcurrant extract whilst training for the World Long Distance Mountain Running champs in 2014. The competition took place at the famous Pikes Peak Ascent in Colorado, 13.5 miles uphill, finishing at over 14,000ft.” “I found I had less fatigue during threshold efforts and could maintain a higher than usual heart rate for effort, suffered much less DOMs (muscle soreness) and could train harder for consecutive days.” “I found I had next-to-no soreness after the Pikes Peak race, so decided to also run their marathon two days later.”

Scientist Roger Hurst from the New Zealand Plant and Food Research Institute evaluated the effects of New Zealand blackcurrant extract for oxidative stress, inflammation and muscle damage. In a high-intensity rowing study designed to induce oxidative stress and muscle damage, the supplemented subjects found they had no muscle soreness or aching following the double-blind crossover study (3,4).

The University of Chichester is conducting ongoing performance studies. To date they show the NZ berries increase fat oxidation, delay the rise of lactate and increase clearance of metabolic waste products, leading to improved recovery.

With thanks to CurraNZ. CurranNZ contains 2,242 ORACs per capsule and is available from health food stores, healthcurrancy.co.uk

1 Eur J Appl Physiol. 2015 Nov;115(11):2357-65. doi: 10.1007/s00421-015-3215-8. Epub 2015 Jul 15. 2 International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 2015, 25, 367 -374 3 Am J Physiol Regulatory Integrative Comp Physiol 297:70-81, 2009. 4 In Health and Disease, CRC Press 2013. Pages 323-338 Print ISBN: 978-1-4398-9471-2