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CurrantsCurrants

 

BENEFITS

An excellent low-calorie source of vitamin C and potassium

High in bioflavonoids.

 

DRAWBACKS

Fresh currants are highly perishable and are available for only a few weeks in the summer

 

The several varieties of fresh currants are actually berries that are related to gooseberries. The fruit marketed as dried currants is a variety of grape, and thus a type of raisin.

 

Red and white currants are the most common types available in North America, usually for only a short time during the summer. Black currants (cultivated mostly in Europe) lead both the red and white types in nutritional value. A cup of black currants provides a whopping 220 mg of vitamin C, as well as 360 mg of potassium. This compares with 50 mg of vitamin C and 300 mg of potassium in a cup of red or white currants (also good amounts of these essential nutrients). All types are low in calories, about 70 in a cup of fresh berries. Currants are also a good source of fiber, providing about 2 g per cup.

 

Because they are quite tart, fresh currents usually are not eaten raw; instead, they are used in baking or to make jams, jellies, and sauces. Diluted and sweetened black currant juice is a refreshing beverage that is very high in vitamin C. The juice can be fermented and made into liqueurs and cordials.

 

MEDICINAL USES

All varieties of currants are rich in bioflavonoids, pigments that are thought to boost the antioxidant effects of vitamin C; they also help inhibit cancer growth and may possibly prevent other diseases. Europeans have long valued black currants for their antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which are thought to come from anthocyanin, a bioflavonoid in the berry skins. In Scandinavia a powder made from dried black currant skins is used to treat diarrhea, especially that caused by Escherichia coli, a common cause of bacterial diarrhea. Europeans also use black currant syrup to ease the inflammation of a sore throat.

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