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‘Fantastic’ New CurraNZ research by MDPI

Compelling new science shows blackcurrant offers ‘fantastic’ benefits for blood flow and muscle function during exercise  



Beetroot and cherries are well known for their performance- and recovery-enhancing properties, and now blackcurrants have earned their place beside them as a new multi-tasking ‘functional superfood’ for athletes.

Having only come to light in very recent years for their significant effects on both performance and recovery, the British sports science program tasked with unearthing blackcurrant’s secrets reached a notable milestone this month.

Blackcurrants contain compounds prized for their effect on blood flow, and for the first time, the study gained a greater understanding of the berry’s ‘vasodilation’ properties on the femoral artery during exercise.

The scientists found that blackcurrant had a ‘large effect’ on expanding the artery’s diameter, as well a range of other cardiovascular responses. Main arterial blood flow increased by 20%-35% during gentle muscle contraction, which meant the muscle experienced less fatigue and didn’t have to work as hard to maintain the same output. Cardiac output, heart stroke volume, total haemoglobin, oxygen uptake and utilization in the muscle also showed double-figure increases.


Click on the image below and see the pdf summary


The findings are significant in the world of sports science because muscle blood flow is critical for oxygen delivery and resulting muscle function, and restriction on blood flow leads to fatigue. Enhanced blood flow enables muscles to experience less fatigue, leading to better performance.

Mark Willems, Professor of Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester, describes these findings as ‘fantastic’.

He says: “What we have is quite unique. Improved blood flow is what should get every sports scientist excited, because it is an explanation for enhanced performance and in the case of blackcurrant, its unprecedented fat oxidation rates, which we believe is specific to this berry. Plus, enhanced blood flow is also beneficial for recovery.”

This dramatic new development provides a key piece of the puzzle for blackcurrant, which has a range of actions in the body and a host of possible interactions, including controlling oxidative stress through its powerful antioxidant properties.

Until now, studies have shown enhanced performance, fat burning and reduced-fatigue outcomes without knowing the mechanism.

In eight previous peer-reviewed, published research studies, blackcurrant anthocyanins have been shown to increase fat oxidation up to 27% during exercise, reduce the rise of lactate across all exercise intensities and enable athletes to exercise harder, for longer, before fatiguing. Anecdotal observations indicated that subjects also reported less perceived effort during exercise.


Click the image below to read the Full Research Paper



Three running performance studies have revealed how blackcurrant -supplemented athletes can run up to 11% further and maintain maximal sprints for longer. Elite athletes have observed similar outcomes and enhanced recovery.

Cycling studies have demonstrated up to 8.6% performance gains, with a trend for cyclists to record their fastest times in the final stages of an endurance test.

Professor Willems adds: “Interestingly, we found that you have to be active in order to see the change to the blood vessel. There was no change at rest, which surprised us, but to see this effect on the femoral artery during exercise is fantastic. An increase in blood flow means the muscle doesn’t have to work so hard to do the task - and the study confirmed this.

“This is our best piece of research because of the variety of techniques and measurements used have revealed the mechanism and explain observations from previous studies, as well as providing new ones.”

CurraNZ blackcurrant extract is the only high-potency, dose-specific and drug-tested supplement available in the UK. It was used by members of the British Olympic team at the Rio Olympics, and is increasingly being used by athletes of all levels for performance and recovery. 

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