Blackcurrants benefit exercise, mood and recovery - study

1:51 pm on 9 August 2019

New research suggests blackcurrant juice could be the answer to motivating exercise, reducing fatigue and helping muscles recover.

Blackcurrant berries have high polyphenol levels.

Blackcurrant berries have high polyphenol levels. Photo: Photo / 123RF

Scientists at Plant and Food Research have completed a study that shows consuming polyphenol-rich juice an hour before exercise reduces fatigue during and after exercise.

Polyphenol is a compound found in fruit and vegetables, but particularly in berries.

Plant and Food science group leader, Dr Roger Hurst says New Zealand blackcurrants are high in the properties, which help your body recover from exercise. He also said polyphenol lifted mood, so that people felt more inclined to exercise better and for longer.

"This is the first study were we've looked at the relation between mood and motivation to exercise," Dr Hurst told Morning Report.

The study involved two groups, one consuming blackcurrant juice and the other a placebo group. The participants were asked to use a treadmill as part of a low-intensity exercise regime.

"What we found that their feelings around the exercise and as the exercise continued were improved. They felt that the exercise was easier in the blackcurrant group ... and their mood improved compared to the placebo group as well," Dr Hurst said.

"And in fact when we looked at how long they walked for and the distance they walked - there were also trends for that being improved as well."

He said the findings had significant health implications, particularly for athletes, but also for those just wanting to keep fit.

"It actually adds to a whole pile of building data around sports recovery and blackcurrants.

"There's been studies that we've done in New Zealand and also some work done overseas, especially in the UK, that are coming together to show blackcurrants in New Zealand have some activity around helping exercise recovery and helping your body cope with the stresses of exercise."

He said there were three ways recovery occurred - managing stresses, regulating the inflammatory pathways in the body so that tissue repair was promoted and the boosting of immunity.

He said studies suggested New Zealand blackcurrants had higher levels of Polyphenol, which promoted this recovery. But he said more research was needed to scientifically validate the claim New Zealand blackcurrants were superior to other blackcurrants in this respect.

Frozen currants were just as good as fresh ones, he said. The study received funding from the government.

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