New Zealand Blackcurrants Good For The Brain

New Zealand Blackcurrants Good For The Brain
Research has shown that New Zealand blackcurrants are good for keeping us mentally young and agile, a finding that could have potential in managing the mental decline associated with aging populations, or helping people with brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease or depression. Results of the research have been published in the Journal of Functional Foods.
 
The research showed that compounds found in New Zealand blackcurrants increased mental performance indicators, such as accuracy, attention and mood. The study also showed that juice from a specific New Zealand blackcurrant cultivar, 'Blackadder', also reduced the activity of a family of enzymes called monoamine oxidases, which regulate serotonin and dopamine concentrations in the brain. These chemicals are known to affect mood and cognition, and are the focus for treatments of both neurodegenerative symptoms associated with Parkinson's disease and mood disorders, including stress and anxiety.
 
Participants in the study - 36 healthy adults aged between 18 and 35 years - consumed a 250ml drink prior to conducting a set of demanding mental performance assessments. The participants consumed either a sugar and taste-matched placebo (no blackcurrant), an anthocyanin-enriched New Zealand blackcurrant extract (Delcyan™ from Just the Berries) or a cold-pressed juice from the New Zealand blackcurrant cultivar 'Blackadder', bred by Plant & Food Research. The assessments showed that after consuming the Delcyan™ and 'Blackadder' drinks, attention and mood were improved while mental fatigue was reduced. In addition, blood tests showed that the activity of the monoamine oxidase enzymes (MAO) was strongly decreased after consuming the 'Blackadder' juice, indicating the potential for compounds found in 'Blackadder' blackcurrants as a functional food ingredient to support brain health or managing the symptoms of disorders like Parkinson's disease.
 
"Understanding what, and how, foods affect mental performance could lead to the development of new foods designed for populations or situations where mental performance or mental decline is a factor, such as older people or those suffering from stress, anxiety or other mood disorders. This research shows how New Zealand blackcurrants can potentially add value, both for the food industry and for people looking for foods that naturally support their own health aspirations," the researchers concluded.
 
Based on material originally posted by New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research.