Why stress creates sought-after plant specimens for human health

Did you know that eating plants that have been submitted to stress factors actually brings better health benefits for human beings?

Have you heard the term plant ‘phytochemicals’, but unsure what they are?

With people becoming more proactive about their health, the spotlight is falling on phytochemicals and how they can contribute to protecting us against illness and aiding overall mental and physical wellbeing.

Phytochemicals are defined as bioactive nutrient plant chemicals found in fruits, vegetables, grains and other plant foods that provide desirable health benefits beyond basic nutrition, to reduce the risk of major chronic diseases.

While the use of plants for medicinal purposes is nothing new, there’s been a renewed interest in phytochemicals in recent years for the new directions they can provide for the pharmaceutical industry. As science has revealed these biologically-active molecules can play a bigger role in human health, their potential for the development of new medications has become apparent.

But let’s face it, the smart strategy is to use mother nature’s ‘big guns’ in their most natural, plentiful and affordable forms, and use them consistently as part of our daily dietary regimes.


Phytochemicals are antioxidant-rich micronutrients with the tongue-twisting descriptions of phytoestrogens  and polyphenols (flavonoids, isoflavonoids, anthocyanins – found in fruits, vegetables, berries, cereals, legumes, cacao), terpenoids (mosses, algae, lichens, mushrooms), cartenoids (carrots, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables, cabbage), limonoids (citrus fruits), saponins (oats, leaves, flowers) and fibres (fruits and vegetables).

 Plants express phytochemicals and nutrients in response to stressors, which can be a lack of water, extreme temperatures, altitudes, sunlight or viral, bacterial, fungal and insect attacks. Incredibly, the more you can stress a plant, the better it can produce the profile of its phytochemical offering to a human host.

In a human context, enduring periods of extreme stress is not good for health or wellbeing, but in the plant world, enduring the wrath of mother nature is to its ultimate benefit for creating a more resilient plant. These environmental adaptations boost the plant’s bioactive qualities, which translates into a food with bumper nutrient value.

In the case of blackcurrants, their phytochemical ‘superpower’ lies in their polyphenol qualities, in particular, their anthocyanins and flavonoids, and their unique combination of red and blue pigments that provide their trademark colour.


In New Zealand, the strong ultra-violet sunlight, hot summers and cold winters provide year-round environmental stressors that stimulate the blackcurrants into producing high concentrations of phenolic phytochemicals. The anthocyanins are colour pigments in the fruit that protect it against sunlight, pests and disease, and provide the deep purple colour that provides a purple fortress against the region’s extremely strong ultra-violet sunlight.

These New Zealand environmental stressors result in blackcurrants with one of the highest anthocyanin densities of any commercially-grown fruit worldwide, with impressive antioxidant activities and protective anti-inflammatory and vasodilatory actions, which are conferred in their health benefits.

Given that we generally eat less than 10% of the fruits, vegetables and plants that we could possibly consume, eating a wide variety of phyto-nutrient-rich foods is important, but consistently including them into the diet is a proactive way to help protect your health, at any stage of life.


To learn more about the benefits of CurraNZ blackcurrant phytochemicals and how they help act against physical, dietary and mental stress, check out our archive below, and learn about the research-based actions of our premium New Zealand blackcurrant extract:

Anti-ageing benefits of blackcurrants for cardiovascular, brain and immune health (click here)

Study shows CurraNZ blackcurrant anthocyanins improve arterial health (click here)

How blackcurrants can support dietary stress, help prevent obesity and improve insulin responses (click here)

Coping with exercise stress – study shows CurraNZ accelerates recovery and reduces tissue damage and muscle soreness (click here)

Adaptogenic plants: Five plant extracts that can build your resilience to stress (click here) 

How phytochemicals help cut risk of cognitive decline (click here)