• An excellent low-calorie source of vitamin C and potassium
• High in bioflavonoids.
• 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
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.
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