-->BlackCurrant – Health Benefits of Black Currant

BlackCurrant – Health Benefits of Black Currant

Publicado em 21/05/2011. Revisado por Equipe Editorial a 13 janeiro 2018

Types and Varieties of Blackcurrants: The most important species of currant are blackcurrant (the species we are referring to), red, white and gooseberry, each one bearing a characteristic type of currant. Within each one of the species mentioned above we distinguish a great amount of varieties. Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum) is a fruit of black colour and 12 mm of diameter, that ripens in clusters of 5-10 units. The skin is thin, often translucent, and a reddish, juicy, very aromatic pulp with a somewhat sweet taste. The main varieties of blackcurrants are distinguished by the size and taste of the fruit (sweet or acid). The most outstanding varieties are specially useful for jam processing, like ‘Boskoop Giant’, ‘ Wellington XXX’ and ‘ Baldwin’. 

The Plant 

Blackcurrants grow in clusters in shrubs not more than 1.5 m high. These shrubs, called black currants (Ribes nigrum. Saxifragaceae) are found in fresh and humid places of the mountainous areas, chiefly in forests, hedges growing along the rivers’ docks and high prairies of the N hemisphere which are not located to the south. These shrubs have multiple erect branches, with a smooth and clear bark in the youthful periods and rough and dark afterwards. The leaves form alternate bunches which are larger (10 cm) and darker than those of the red currant. The pentamerous flowers have a crowned calyx, containing the petals, which are joined together; they are white and they sometimes have a violet border. They have a peduncle and a hairy receptacle; they are gathered in separate clusters that hang from the axil of one year old buds. The flowers bloom in April-May in the N hemisphere. The fruit is a berry of globose shape, bright, black-blue colour, covered with hair, with a translucent pulp of a red or green tone, containing multiple small seeds. These berries are gathered in clusters of 5 to 10 fruits. They are tougher than red currants and ripen between July and August in the N hemisphere. Currants are well-adapted to harsh climate and land conditions. It is highly resistant to cold weather; early snow or frosts do not damage the plant’s yield. However, sometimes late frosts may cause necrosis of the flowers and the small fruit, putting the year’s output in danger, although not affecting the vitality of the plant. 

Origin and Production

Blackcurrants are native to the N hemisphere, mainly the most cold regions of Germany, England and France. According to data obtained from the FAO in 1998, the world-wide production of all types of currants amounted to 654.000t, distributed by continents in the following way:

  Continent   Thousand tons 
  Africa   0 
  Asia   0 
  Europe   651 
  North and Central America   0 
  Oceania   3 
  South America   0 
  Total   654 


Source: FAO Production Yearbook (1998)

The production of all types of currants is practically centred in Europe, with an annual production of 651,000 t, followed by Oceania with 3,000 t. These are the only continents producing currants.

 Two years later, that is to say, in 2000, the world-wide production of currants has remained within the same margins. According to data from the FAO, 613,188 t of currants were obtained in the world, a lower production than in 1998. The ten chief producers of currants in the world are shown in the following table:

  Country   Tons 
  Russia   208,000 
  Poland   145,000 
  Germany   140,000 
  Czech Rep.   22,792 
  Austria   19,537 
  Ukraine   18,500 
  United Kingdom   11,000 
  France   8,500 
  Hungary   8,000 
  Denmark   5,000 


Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (2000)

The leader in production is Russia (208,000 t), followed by Poland and Germany as the chief producers in 2000.

32,126 tons are imported world-wide, according to the FAO’s data of 1999. The distribution of imports by continents is shown in the table below:

  Continent   Tons 
  Africa   152 
  Asia   1 
  Europe   31,701 
  North and Central America   257 
  Oceania   2 
  South America   13 


Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999)

The continent with larger import of currants is Europe, that in 1999 imported 31,701 tons.

The main importer is in the first place Germany with 14,708t of currants. The ten first world-wide countries importing this fruit are classified in the following table:

  Country   Tons 
  Germany   14,708 
  Austria   9,589 
  Denmark   3,379 
  The Netherlands   2,547 
  Belgium-Luxembourg   515 
  France   287 
  United Kingdom   257 
  The United States of America   222 
  Switzerland   203 
  Ethiopia   137 


Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999)

Spain imported in 1999 twenty-five tons, which means the 14th position in the world-wide imports.

World-wide imports in 1999 amounted to 40,607 thousand dollars. Germany was the country with greater economic investment in its imports, followed by Austria and Denmark. The following table includes the ten first countries with greater capital investment in their imports.

  Country   Thousand dollars 
  Germany   16,544 
  Austria   10,398 
  Denmark   4,120 
  The Netherlands   2,757 
  France   1,281 
  The United States of America   1,248 
  Belgium-Luxembourg   1,615 
  United Kingdom   1,033 
  Switzerland   372 
  Spain   204 


Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999)

10,361 tons of currants of all types were exported in the world according to data from 1999 of the FAO. This table shows the exports of the different continents.

  Continent   Tons 
  Africa   247 
  Asia   6 
  Europe   9,918 
  North and Central America   135 
  Oceania   2 
  South America   50 


Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999)

The continent with greater amount of currants of all types exported in the world in 1999 was Europe, with 9,918 t.

The main exporters are, in the first place, the Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium-Luxembourg. The ten first world-wide exporters are included in the following table:

  Country   Tons 
  Czech Rep.   4,154 
  Germany   1,689 
  Belgium-Luxembourg   1,148 
  Austria   837 
  France   790 
  Denmark   588 
  The Netherlands   277 
  Zimbabwe   247 
  Ireland   222 
  The United States of America   135 


Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999)

The world-wide exports in 1999 totalled 13,844 thousand dollars. Spain invested 9 thousand dollars in its exports. The country with a larger investment in its exports was Belgium-Luxembourg, followed by the Czech Republic and Germany. The following table shows the ten first countries with greater capital intended for exports.

  Country   Thousand dollars 
  Belgium-Luxembourg   2,680 
  CzechRep.   2,598 
  Germany   2,275 
  The Netherlands   2,011 
  France   1,093 
  Austria   1,020 
  Denmark   836 
  Zimbabwe   550 
  Ireland   224 
  Italy   173 


Source: FAOSTAT Database Results (1999) 


Cultivated in greenhouses, blackcurrants are available in the N hemisphere from May onwards. Otherwise, they are only found from mid June until the middle of August. Currants are summer fruits of short season. When purchasing them, we must choose the intact berries of intense colour. We can also buy frozen currants all the year round. The following table is an example of the dates of availability in the United Kingdom market, indicating the origin and the weight of the packages for the consumer and the number of packages in each box.

Origin   Availability in the United Kingdom markets   Weight of the packages 
  CHILE   December-January   12x125g 
  BELGIUM   June-August   8x125g 
  FRANCE   July-August   Various 
  HUNGARY   June-July   5kg 
  IRELAND   July   Various 
  NEWZEALAND   May-April   16x200g 
  POLAND   According to the market requirements   Various 
  PORTUGAL   April-June   8x125g 
  UNITEDKINGDOM   June-August   16x227g 


Source: Fresh Produce Desk Book (2001) 


Blackcurrants (and all types of currants in general) are usually sold in transparent plastic baskets containing 200 grams, with an articulated cover and an absorbent paper in the base, placed to soak up the liquid that could be released by the product and orifices for air circulation. It is marketed in very peculiar small trays that enable them to be served in the table without removing them from the package. There are also baskets of 125 g for a cheaper price. 

There is no specific quality standard for currants, reason why they must keep the minimum quality requirements for any vegetable or fruit in general. The European generic standard applicable to the quality of fruit and vegetables is laid down by the regulation 362R0058 that can be consulted at the following internet address: (europa.eu.int/eur-lex/es/lif/dat/1962/es_362R0058.html) 

Quality Criteria 

Postharvest Atmosphere Management 

Currants are stored for 1-3 weeks in the fridge. Besides, they can be frozen in case we want to keep them for a longer period of time. If they are kept in the fridge, it is recommended not to wash them until they are eaten, since the excess of water content accelerates the microbial development. They can be frozen intact, with or without sugar.
Healthy Effects

Black currant, Ribes nigrum / Fam.: Saxifragaceae (Grossulariaceae)
   Note: Composition for 100 g. of fresh product
           Values in ( min. – max. ) format.
Energy: 28.00-39.43 kcal
Fats: 0.22-0.22 g
Fibres: 3.60-6.80 gMinerals Calcium: 46.00-60.00 mg
Zinc: 0.293-0.300 mg
Chlorine: 15.00-15.00 mg
Phosporus: 40.00-43.00 mg
Iron: 1.29-1.30 mg
Magnesium: 17.00-17.00 mg
Manganese: 0.300-0.336 mg
Potasium: 310.00-370.00 mg
Selenium: 1.70-1.70 µg
Sodium: 1.50-3.00 mg
Iodine: 1.00-1.00 µg
Proteins: 0.90-1.28 g
Carbohidrates: 6.11-6.60 gLiposoluble Vitamins A Retinol: 0.00-13.50 µg
A Carotenoids: 81.00-100.00 µg
E or Tocoferol: 1.00-2.65 mg

Hydrosoluble Vitamins

B1 or Thiamine: 0.030-0.051 mg
B2 or Riboflavine: 0.044-0.060 mg
B3 or Niacine: 0.30-0.30 mg
B5 or Pantothenic Acid: 0.400-0.400 mg
B6 or Piridoxine: 0.08-0.08 mg
B9 or Folic Acid: 16.00-16.00 µg
C or Ascorbic Acid: 177.00-200.00 mg




Health Benefits of Black Currant 

Blackcurrants deserves a special mention due to their high content of vitamin C, that satisfies to a great extent the recommended daily consumption. A daily consumption of 160 mg of vitamin C helps to reduce the incidence of cancer. The dark pigmentation of blackcurrants is due to the presence of lutein carotenoids, alpha and beta carotene. Carotenoids offer protection against heart diseases and different types of cancer, like lung and prostate cancer. Cancer can also be inhibited by the quercetin flavonoid, occurring in blackcurrants. 

Popular Tradition
Blackcurrants contain some properties which are similar to blueberries, having an opposite action to the loss of vision and used in pharmaceutical specialities intended for the alterations of the retina. Berries have pectins and mucilages consumed in juices diluted in water with a laxative, purifying and diuretic effect. The pulp applied on burned skin is used as a treatment. The currant’s leaves are highly rich in tannin and used to prepare anti-diarrhoeic and diuretic infusions. The leaves also exert an important anti-inflammatory action on arthrosis and rheumatism in general, free from the gastric disadvantages of traditional medicine. Thus, the anti-inflammatory effect, along with the diuretic action and the capacity to remove the organism’s remainders, enables it to be recommended in case of gout. 

Nutrition and Eating
Currants offer several positive benefits for our organism, although there are significant differences in the properties of each type of berry. They are recommended in slimming diets since they provide with a small caloric content; 29.25 kcal for each 100 grams of currants.

Blackcurrants have a great content in potassium and it is recommended in case of hypertension thanks to its diuretic effect.

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