Behind the Research, part 1: 'This discovery should get every sports scientist excited - what we have is unique'

Behind the Research, part 1: 'This discovery should get every sports scientist excited - what we have is unique'

As we approach our half-century of peer-reviewed studies and world-first blackcurrant findings, we’re opening our research archives to reveal the ‘purple gold’ inside.

This week, we start our series ‘Behind the Research’, focusing on our major discoveries and what the scientists told us, laying bare fascinating discussions.

If you’re new to our supplement, this is a great chance to learn about the incredible product-specific benefits we've uncovered since launching CurraNZ in 2014 - we are the Original, first-to-market, high-potency NZ blackcurrant functional food supplement and science leader globally.

The study:

Blackcurrant Alters Physiological Responses and Femoral Artery Diameter during Sustained Iso­metric Contraction (published Nutrients, 2017, doi:10.3390/nu9060556)

What was study about?

Researchers tested whether CurraNZ could influence cardiovascular function during muscle contraction (exercise).  

Why was this meaningful?

In 2017, early cycling and running studies were revealing that CurraNZ significantly improved human athletic performance, however the ‘why’ was not known, or little understood.

Blackcurrants, more than any other berry, have powerful effects on widening blood vessels, otherwise known as ‘vasodilation’.

Blood flow and oxygen supply to muscles is a limiting factor for human performance – and health in general.

Therefore, interventions that improve cardiovascular function and blood supply to muscles is considered beneficial for health and sport.

For performance, improved blood flow means muscles don’t have to work so hard, experience less fatigue and exercisers benefit from enhanced endurance (and more enjoyment!).  

What we found:

- increased blood flow through the body’s main artery 25%-35%

 - boosted cardiac output +16%

- increased heart stroke volume +11%

- Led to higher uptake and utilisation of oxygen in muscle

- A trend for lower blood pressure during muscle contraction, but not at rest

The dose:

2 capsules of CurraNZ, taken for seven days.

What the scientists said about the findings-

Lead researcher, Mark Willems, Professor of Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester (left):

“What we have is quite unique.

"Improved blood flow is what should get every sports scientist excited, because it is an explanation for enhanced performance and in the case of blackcurrant, its unprecedented fat oxidation rates, which we believe is specific to blackcurrant. 

“Plus, enhanced blood flow is also beneficial for recovery.

“Interestingly, we found that you have to be active in order to see the change to the blood vessel. There was no change at rest, which surprised us, but to see this effect on the femoral artery during exercise is fantastic.

“An increase in blood flow means the muscle doesn’t have to work so hard to do the task – and the study confirmed this.

“This is our best piece of research because of the variety of techniques and measurements used have revealed the mechanism and explains observations from previous studies, as well as providing new observations.

“The findings now cry out for blackcurrant to be used in clinical populations, as they may have beneficial effects. 

“To generalize, if you can get vasodilation in the coronary arteries by intake of blackcurrant then that would be significant.

"When these narrow, you may get a heart attack and suffer a life-threatening condition as a consequence.

"Enhanced blood flow is tremendously important and it would be nice to see tests using blackcurrant under clinical conditions.”


What have we discovered since then?

  • A repeat of this study confirmed again the high-impact effects on blood flow, which start to occur at day 4 of intake (+20%), but are better at 7 days (+45%)

  • A 2020 meta-analysis of our research confirmed CurraNZ is one of the most effective legal performance enhancers in sports nutrition.

  • CurraNZ can turn back the heart health clock by ten years for older adults, by making arteries and blood vessels younger and function better (one week’s intake, two capsules)

  • CurraNZ can lower blood pressure in hypertensive adults and improve the heart health benefits of exercise