Do blackcurrants have a role supporting a healthy immune system?

Plenty of research substantiates blackcurrants potential role in strengthening and supporting a healthy immune system

…including a study that identified a compound in these wee power punched berries that stimulates macrophages – cells which play a dual role in our body immune defence system.

The Japanese research found that the fruit juice of blackcurrant contained a substance, which was designated cassis polysaccharide (CAPS), with macrophage-stimulating activity. Macrophages form the first line of defence as part of our innate immune response – that is once the body is infected, they mount an attack to fight the baddies. They also act as important accessory cells in the adaptive immune response and it is suggested that the blackcurrant juice may also potentially have antitumour activity.

The guts of the matter

Other research findings suggest that a healthy gut is important to immunity. Whilst disease causing organisms in the gut can play havoc with your health, the addition of probiotic beneficial bacteria can stop these baddies sticking to gut cells, inhibit their growth and restore favourable microbial balance. That is where blackcurrants come in. Evidence illustrates that they enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium, and slows the activity of bacteria such as Clostridium and Bacteroides.

Laboratory studies have also indicated that blackcurrants have properties that restrict the infection rate of viruses such as the common cold and flu viruses including influenza type A and B. The polyphenols in blackcurrants act by reducing the viruses’ ability to bind to the cells it is trying to infect.

And of course it is well known that blackcurrants are a great source of super antioxidant vitamin C which is well understood to contribute to normal immune function, as well as high levels of polyphenols, particularly anthocyanins – compounds that give the berries their intense deep purple colour and may underpin many of their beneficial health properties.

Blackcurrants have amazing nutritional and therapeutic benefits to support a healthy immune system – with heaps of recent scientific research that indicate positive effects of blackcurrantsĀ  – from inhibiting the flu virus and reducing inflammation.

  • Abdul-Lateef Molan, Zhuojian Liu, Marlena Kruger. The ability of blackcurrant extracts to positively modulate key markers of gastrointestinal function in rats. World journal microbiology biotechnology (2010).
  • Molan A., Zhuojian L.,Plimmer G. Evaluation of the effects of blackcurrant products on gut microbiota and on markers of risk for colon cancer in humans. Phytotherapy Research, 2014, 28,416-422. 37.
  • Parkar, S., Redgate, E.,McGhie., Hurst, R. In vitro studies of modulation of pathogenic and probiotic bacterial proliferation and adhesion to intestinal cells by blackcurrant juices. Journal of Functional Foods, 8C, 2014, 35-44.
    Gopalan, A., Reuben, S. C., Ahmed, S., Darvesh, A. S., Hohmann, J., & Bishayee, A. (2012). The health benefits of blackcurrants. Food & function,3(8), 795-809. Check
    Takata, R., Yamamoto, R., Yanai, T., Konno, T., & Okubo, T. (2005). Immunostimulatory effects of a polysaccharide-rich substance with antitumor activity isolated from black currant (Ribes nigrum L.). Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry, 69(11), 2042-2050.