A new study has found that CurraNZ blackcurrant extract might provide clinically-significant cardioprotective effects after 'turning the clock back ten years’ in a project on arterial health in adults.
Japanese scientists made the startling discovery after measuring the effect of the anthocyanin extract on arterial stiffness and blood pressure – powerful predictors of future cardiovascular events - in a group of healthy men and women aged 65 and over.
The group took blackcurrant for just seven days, with the clinically-relevant changes illustrating that if these changes were sustained with longer-term use, blackcurrant extract might offer a natural dietary means of reducing cardiovascular risk factors in the ageing population.
Cardiovascular disease-related mortality is one of the biggest health problems worldwide and strategies are needed for prevention.
The 14 adults tested had no history of cardiovascular disease or diabetes, were non-smokers of healthy weight and did not take habitual exercise. They took two capsules (600mg) CurraNZ® blackcurrant supplement daily for seven days.
The tests showed CurraNZ® blackcurrant extract:
- Reduced central blood pressure by an average 10mmHg
- Reduced arterial stiffness in both the carotid and femoral arteries
- Displayed ‘whole body’ improvements to vascular health
Hardening of the arteries occurs with age and is strongly influenced by diet and lifestyle factors. The condition can precede hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Multiple studies have shown that the supplement increases arterial blood flow 20%-35% in healthy individuals and significantly improves the output and volume of blood pumped around the body.
Dr Takanobu Okamoto, from the Nippon Sport Science University in Japan, who performed the study, says: “Intake of anthocyanin-rich blackcurrants might be beneficial for maintaining or improving cardiovascular health as an important non-pharmacological therapy to prevent cardiovascular diseases in older adults.”
Author and UK collaborator on the paper, Mark Willems, Professor of Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester, has led the majority of British research into New Zealand blackcurrant. He was surprised by the degree of changes observed after just one week of using the supplement. He says: “By improving the condition of the arteries you’re reducing the consequences of ageing on the vascular system. Blackcurrant is somehow making blood vessels younger again.
“The extract showed a surprising systemic effect and reduced the age of the arteries equivalent to ten years.
“These results have clinical significance, but for a permanent change, we need to see the effect of longer-term consumption.”
Mike Wakeman, Clinical Pharmacist, author and ingredient formulating scientist adds: “The data from this latest study looking at the CurraNZ® extract in relation to cardiovascular health is great news, especially in relation to arterial and heart wellness, plus blood pressure and adds to the volume of evidence behind the humble New Zealand blackcurrant.
“And it appears that the magic in this unique extract - CurraNZ - is the working action of anthocyanins. Put simply, anthocyanins have been dietetically wrapped into a proprietary complex - Enzans™ - which sits at the heart of the CurraNZ® extract – and delivers a dual heart health action including:
- Helping to increase cardio output by opening up the little blood vessels in the peripheral areas of cells around our bodies, meaning that the heart does not have to work so hard
- Potentially helping to inhibit platelet aggregation and some preclinical studies are possibly showing a reduction in the growth of atherosclerotic plaque. Atherosclerosis is a disease in which plaque (formed of excessive amounts of fat, cholesterol, calcium, and other substances found in the blood) builds up inside our arteries. And we need our arteries working in full capacity to carry oxygen-rich blood to our heart and other parts of our bodies.”
There is reason to hope that regular, daily consumption of blackcurrant extract could elicit sustained health benefits and aid cardiovascular function. Previous work by Professor Willems has found that intake periods of longer than seven days is even more beneficial for improving cardiovascular responses and lowering blood pressure in healthy individuals during exercise.
The study with older adults in Japan also measured blood serum lipids but found no changes, but the duration of the study is likely to have been too brief to have shown an effect.
The study, the Effects of blackcurrant extract on arterial functions in older adults: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial, was published in the journal, Clinical and Experimental Hypertension on May 13, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1080/10641963.2020.1764015