Blackcurrants compared with Bilberries and Blueberries
Blackcurrants and bilberries are both very high in anthocyanins and antioxidants, and blueberries are much lower. Generally, bilberries are not consumed as a food, but are dried and used as a powder in nutraceutical products.
No previous study has directly compared these three fruit for levels of beneficial bioactives. The results of the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research³ study confirm that New Zealand blackcurrants equal even the best bilberries for anthocyanin levels, are superior to both bilberries and blueberries for overall antioxidant activity, and significantly outperform both for levels of vitamin C. The full report can be downloaded here.4
Direct comparisons between berries for anthocyanin, vitamin C and antioxidant activity levels.
1 In this study anthocyanins were analysed by HPLC using cyanidin-3- glucoside as an internal standard. This method is suitable for comparing fruits with a range of different anthocyanins, but gives lower values than compared to methods measuring each anthocyanin directly.
2 As assayed using the ORAC method for quantifying antioxidant levels. Other methods including FRAP and Folin-Ciocalteu were used in the analysis and values can be obtained from the full report (link above).
3 New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research (previously HortResearch) a New Zealand Crown Research Institute specialising in fruit and vegetable analytics and research. Click here to learn more.
4 The blackcurrant samples tested were samples randomly selected from the 2007 harvest.
In 2007 the New Zealand Blackcurrant Cooperative commissioned RJ Hill Laboratories Ltd to undertake an analysis of mineral levels in New Zealand blackcurrants, comparing them with overseas cultivars of blueberries and bilberries. The full report can be downloaded here.4 The results are summarised below.
Both the Ben Ard and Ben Rua varieties of NZ blackcurrant had higher levels of calcium, an essential mineral for the normal growth and maintenance of bones and teeth, than either of the bilberry cultivars examined or the Canadian blueberry.
Levels of zinc, another essential mineral, were also higher in the blackcurrants, especially in Ben Ard, when compared with the other berry fruit.
A vital component of a healthy human diet and deficiency has been implicated in a number of human diseases. In this analysis the New Zealand blackcurrants were found to have approximately twice the magnesium levels of bilberry and blueberry.
An essential mineral macronutrient in human nutrition; it is the major cation (positive ion) inside animal cells, and it is thus important in maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Potassium is important in neuron (brain and nerve) function. The results of this study indicate that blackcurrants have exceptionally high levels of potassium, 2 - 3 times those measured in the other fruits in the study.
In another recent study, a vitamin comparison was undertaken. Measurements by AgriQuality, an independent New Zealand testing laboratory, confirmed the findings of New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research (previously HortResearch) regarding vitamin C levels (i.e. that New Zealand blackcurrants have over 30 times the levels of the other fruits), and showed that blackcurrants have levels of vitamin A (retinol), thiamine and vitamin B2 equivalent to those found in blueberries and bilberries. A full set of results for this study can be downloaded here