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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - The Blackcurrant | History
    last 400 500 years Keep 1995 The modern day commercial cultivars of blackcurrant are significantly advanced from their wild progenitors with a range of desirable attributes selected within the available germplasm by breeders in Europe and beyond In the UK cultivars of blackcurrant have been bred for their deep purple colour which indicates a high level of anthocyanins and for their attributes which benefit the environment such as pest and disease resistance Initial records in the UK date back to the seventeenth century in herbals referring to the medicinal properties of the fruits Roach 1985 and by 1826 five cultivars were listed by the Royal Horticultural Society Much of the subsequent cultivar development during the 19th century was based on the introduction of plants raised by private individuals or by nurserymen from open pollinated seed of the existing cultivars In 1920 Hatton identified 26 cultivars classified into four main groups of similar or synonymous cultivars The centre of diversity for the currant section of the Ribes genus extends from northern Scandinavia across Russia As a result there have been significant breeding efforts in these regions with Russia in particular having many programmes in the 20th century producing a wide range of locally adapted cultivars In Scandinavia initial breeding involved the selection of superior local ecotypes from the available wild germplasm leading to the development of cultivars such as Brödtorp and Øjebyn both of which are still grown today in parts of Europe Elsewhere in Europe by the late 19th century the cultivar Baldwin was the most important in the UK and it is still grown on a reduced scale today in some regions However the development of state funded breeding programmes within the UK and elsewhere led to the production of a series of cultivars as hybrids between existing cultivars

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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - The Blackcurrant | Growing | Guide For The Commercial Market
    of 4 6 tonnes acre are usually in years 4 8 depending on bush health and season after which time the yield starts to drop away Many plantations are planted with grass between every row of bushes these have to be mowed on a regular basis and on a 100 acre plantation there could be as much as 80 miles of mowing at one time Blackcurrants are best established by planting a rooted 1 year old bush which must be from virus tested clean stock or more commonly by planting cuttings direct into the cropping site at the spacing selected This is cheaper and quicker than planting roots Planting cuttings can be done through black polythene mulch as this will help suppress weeds and conserve moisture However black polythene provides an ideal habitat for vine weevil and therefore growers do not use this where this pest may be a problem Rooted bushes are normally planted in a furrow deep enough to accommodate the roots which is then covered with soil immediately to prevent drying out and firmed prior to backfilling by tractor After planting the shoots are cut off just above the soil level These shoots may be used to produce cuttings for further planting Cuttings are prepared from the basal portion of strong hardwood shoots discarding the thin tip portion together with weak or mildewed growth These are planted at a slight angle instead of bolt upright to help promote rooting The plantation sizes are generally between 5 and 10 acres Cuttings planted as 8 twigs never cease to amaze even the most cynical of growers as in spring these buds break and burst into life putting down their roots By the end of the first growing season they may have grown as many as six new branches and up to 2 foot high back to top Growing Each year blackcurrants make new growth consisting of shoots or side branches that range in length from about 5cm to lm The strongest shoots usually grow from buds at or below soil level providing valuable replacement for older branches and contributing to the increase in the overall size of the bush The number of new basal shoots produced each season is small by comparison with the total number of side shoots developing from the branch system In order to sustain high cropping levels production of high quality extension growth has to be maintained to ensure that the total number of flower buds shows a steady increase from one year to the next It is also important to have a high percentage of young buds on one year and two year old cropping wood as they produce more flowers larger fruit and normally are more closely spaced compared with buds on older branches The causes of irregular cropping may be traceable to some of the factors listed below which may adversely affect the performance of the plantation or undermine its yield potential table back to top Winter Dormancy Blackcurrants remain dormant from the time the leaves fall in October until the following March when the buds again swell and burst in response to rising temperatures and increasing day length Exceptionally after a very prolonged cold winter bud break might be delayed until April A very mild winter may lead to bud development during February when the absence of the requisite minimum period of winter chill will be accompanied by uneven bud break on sensitive varieties There is increasing evidence that the amount of cold experienced by blackcurrant cultivars in some regions in some winters is inadequate leading to delayed and uneven bud break with consequent adverse effects on yield and quality The disruption of the normal pattern becomes apparent from the reluctance to leaf out by buds apart from those at the tips of the shoots Eventually a proportion of the delayed buds comes into leaf but they might not flower or crop as well as normal Other buds remain dormant throughout the entire season although when dissected they are likely to contain a normal complement of leaf and flower initials back to top Flowering The majority of buds on healthy shoots should develop flower initials with the exception of a small percentage of tip and basal buds that remain vegetative The production of flower initials by the buds commences in June provided the nitrogen status is sufficient to initiate the process By the end of summer flower formation should be nearing completion and by October the embryo flower clusters can be identified within the interior of the buds when they are dissected Flower formation is liable to disruption when the bushes are under stress from drought disease or insect attack Leaf loss occasioned by disease infection causes premature bursting of buds and flowers in late summer early autumn and a generalised reduction in vigour and yields the following year The fruitlet develops after a certain number of ovules have been fertilised and viable seeds produced Where an individual fruit has produced fewer than 35 40 fertile seeds it might not be able to develop any further and could drop prematurely some weeks later This premature dropping is part of the process familiar to all growers called run off Where the requirements for satisfactory cropping have not been met in full the crop prospects could be adversely affected but for the majority of plantations frost remains the biggest single limiting factor An important factor over which growers can exercise control is the availability of soil moisture as any deficits can be corrected by means of irrigation and by maintaining a high level of organic matter in the soil This helps to ensure the mobility of the nutrients that are necessary to ensure satisfactory development of the leaf canopy the fruitlets Phosphates requires moisture for its uptake by the fine feeding roots and is recognised as the most critical element affecting fruit setting During periods of cold dull weather accompanied by a drying wind the rate of plant growth will be reduced as also will be the availability of nutrients if the soil is dry Growers frequently use foliar feeds to enable the leaf canopy to absorb nutrients in a soluble form when climatic conditions are unfavourable The interval in days between the dates of first open flower start of harvest is remarkably constant for each variety and is only marginally affected by seasonal variations Blackcurrant flowers are attached to a stem or strig with the oldest flower at the base nearest the bud and the youngest at the tip Each strig carries from 10 to 20 flowers and some buds also produce 1 or 2 shorter secondary strigs Following bud burst and the emergence of the first 2 leaves the flower clusters begin to be visible and from this stage they become susceptible to frost The flowers change colour from pink green to red as the clusters emerge fully to hang from the bud cluster in the characteristic grape stage The flowers open in succession starting at the base of the strig The basal flowers are less exposed and obtain better nutrition than the tip flowers which may be frosted or fail to set fruit Basal fruits may be twice the weight of later pollinated tip fruits set more seeds have longer to grow The anthers are the male organs producing the pollen They burst open when they are ripe releasing the powdery pollen that is distributed by the wind when it is dry as well as by bumble bees and other insects mainly flies The pollen grains may drift or be carried some distance before alighting on a stigma These become sticky when receptive helping to retain the pollen The stigma is sited in the centre of the flower at the termination of the style down which the pollen tubes must grow to effect the fertilisation of the ovules or embryo seeds When a pollen grain succeeds in landing on a style it will germinate by sending out a pollen tube that will grow at a rate governed by the temperature In warm weather it could reach the ovule within 48 hours of germinating conversely low temperatures slow down the growth rate so that the tube might not reach its objective until 7 9 days later This would be beyond the period when the ovule can be fertilised back to top Spring Frost Most blackcurrant varieties flower soon after mid April when they are still at risk from damaging frosts and cold winds A few varieties flower later notably Ben Alder Ben Tirran which begin flowering at the beginning of May Blackcurrant flower tissue is susceptible to frost damage as soon as the grape clusters can be detected within the expanding bud normally at any time after mid March and when the temperature falls to 1 9 C 28 5 F or below During frosty spells the temperature on a still night may drop slowly to give only a short time below the critical temperature Provided the flowers remain dry it is unlikely that damage will ensue from a period of up to one hour at a temperature of 1 9 C Protection will be gained from the canopy effect of expanding leaves as well as from miniscule pockets of still air acting as an insulator within the flowers The symptoms of frost damage will show up within 24hr 48hr following a severe frost The entire flower may be blackened or only the stigma and anthers change colour Alternatively the ovary the shiny green receptacle might appear wrinkled or blanched When the flowers have suffered chilling or the effects of a succession of minor frosts the symptoms take longer to appear Either the flower withers becomes papery or then drops off or the sepals and ovaries gradually become deep red in colour before they eventually drop off Wind frosts are usually a more serious threat to the grower than radiation frosts because heat will be removed from the tissues more rapidly With a wind frost the external cold air movement rapidly cancels the insulating effect of air space inside the flower buds Some protection may be gained from shelter belts and areas of nearby woodland where they have been positioned so as to deflect any cold air currents away from the plantation back to top Frost Protection The technique of protecting plant tissue from frost damage by continuous water sprinkling was devised at East Malling Research Station by Rodgers and Modibowska Water is sprayed onto the planations using hundreds of irrigation sprinklers and by ensuring that the sprinkler nozzles rotate at least once per minute the temperature of the ice that forms around the flower buds is prevented from falling below freezing point even though the surrounding air may be at a lower temperature Frost protection is mostly used in the east of England but with present day later flowering varieties growers are not generally investing in this type of system back to top Plant Nutrients To successfully produce blackcurrants growers implement a nutrient programme designed to promote growth and yield nitrogen is directly related to strong plant growth phosphates for growth fruit setting and crop yield potassium promotes growth in individual shoots and increases the weight of individual fruits magnesium being a constituent of chlorophyll in leaves helps increase yields through interaction with potassium calcium is required for cell division and enlargement therefore essential to young plants and buds Soil samples and leaf analysis throughout the season determine the levels of nutrients available to the plant and where there is insufficient they can be added either as foliar feed or to the soil during the winter back to top Nitrogen Traditionally blackcurrants have been looked upon as gross feeders requiring large quantities of bulky manure s rich in nitrogen Present day practice is based on a more restricted use of nitrogen often applied in the form of split dressings to provide a sustained level of nutrition The availability of nitrogen is the principal factor governing the amount of vegetative growth produced Nitrogen also plays an important role by increasing flower numbers in proportion to its availability within certain defined limits In the soil the chief source of nitrogen is from the breakdown of organic matter Maintaining the soil organic matter content therefore contributes equally to the availability of nitrogen to the soil moisture retaining capacity of the plantation To help this growers plant grass or clover mixes in between rows of bushes Not only does this practice improve the soil organic content and structure but it also helps prevent soil erosion and encourages beetles and other insects Recommendations on the amount of nitrogen to be applied to plantations are not easy to formulate as many factors have to be taken into account Perennial fruit crops utilise nutrients in developing a system of roots and branches which increases every year For blackcurrants the parts being harvested comprise only the fruit which contains a moderate level of nitrogen All other plant material including leaves prunings remain on site to be recycled thus returning nitrogen to the crop Successful establishment requires the bushes to be grown to a harvestable size as quickly as possible in order that it is able to produce consistent and good quality crops One of the grower s objectives should be to ensure that the nitrogen will be available as and when required by the crop The requirements of young bushes under establishment are best dealt with by a manure or green organic crop if available ploughed under to provide slow release nitrogen potash phosphate Failing this a good compound fertiliser can be substituted A suitable analysis would be 15 15 20 Plantations in their second or third growing years require nitrogen to build up big strong bushes to provide the type of framework required to sustain future cropping Nitrogen is essential from mid April until mid July when the growth rate diminishes in line with the decreasing daylight hours For the mature plantation the bush framework is fully developed and applied nitrogen requirements are less than in the formative years due to the substantial quantities returned in the form of fallen leaves and prunings The nitrogen content of the year s crop of leaves and prunings could be up to double that removed in the harvested fruit Much of this nitrogen will be returned following the breakdown of organic material within the plantation the resultant recycling of nutrients enables bush vigour to be maintained by the use of a reduced input of fertiliser compared with younger bush requirements back to top Phosphates The availability of phosphorus is essential in establishing young bushes and it is of critical importance in respect of shoot growth overall length fruit setting and crop yield Phosphates require adequate soil moisture for mobility and this encourages root growth and uptake of nutrients Soils with a high organic content and those to which animal manures have been applied will benefit from the increase in water holding capacity as well as the phosphates liberated following the mineralisation of the soil organic material Fertilisers containing water soluble phosphates are quickly available to plants whereas ground mineral rock phosphates are not water soluble and whilst cheaper are of value only on fairly acid soils where phosphate requirements are limited Phosphate levels are maintained in plantations by having soil and leaves analysed on a regular basis and applying phosphate in line with current recommendations back to top Potassium Potassium or Potash as it is sometimes known has a very significant effect on shoot length which is independent of the availability of nitrogen magnesium This nutrient also plays a critical part in increasing the weight of individual fruits and therefore of overall yields Any deficiency is likely to lead to reduced flower numbers Potassium is also of very great importance in the water status of plants which have a lower transpiration rate when they are adequately supplied leading to increased cell size water content High applications of potassium fertilisers are required to support continued intensive cropping Due to its importance in metabolism the fact that its content in blackcurrant fruit is around 2 the availability of potash to the bushes must be ensured otherwise crop yields will suffer Clay soils are generally rich in potassium whereas organic soils peat s and free draining acid sandy soils will be deficient due to their lack of potash bearing minerals Potash may be lost due to fixation in certain soils containing mica and very large amounts of potassium fertilisers would then be required to rectify the shortage As with phosphates levels are maintained by using leaf and soil analysis back to top Magnesium Magnesium is a constituent of chlorophyll in the leaves of plants and it interacts closely with potash in nutrition In blackcurrants the response to magnesium increases as the availability of potash increases By increasing the availability of potash increased yields can be obtained if the level of magnesium is sufficiently high Like potash the amount of magnesium in the soil is highest in clays whilst on sandy soils leaching may result in low availability Magnesium appears to be an important nutrient for fruit of all kinds although blackcurrants can tolerate small deficits without serious effects Deficiencies are most likely to arise on acid organic soils subject to leaching as well as on very free draining soils which have been well limed Excessive potassium levels may give rise to a magnesium deficiency back to top Calcium and Lime Soils which are well supplied with calcium have a higher pH level and contain more carbonates nutrients and nitrifying bacteria compared with peats sands which may be deficient In these calcareous soils heavy metals are less soluble so that iron deficiency chlorosis is more likely to occur In plants calcium is required in cell division and enlargement being essential to the growth of root tips the growing points of young shoots Pollen tube growth also depends on the availability of calcium This nutrient is not easily transported in plant tissues the youngest leaves

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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - The Blackcurrant | Harvesting
    harvester designed to pick the fruit after the static machine had selectively pruned and harvested those older branches This machine moved through the bushes where steel plucker fingers removed the fruit from the bushes often with significant amount of leaf and twig Whilst this was a significant improvement on the rigours of handpicking it did not generate a particularly good fruit sample or help the bush through to the next season Straddle Harvesters Pattenden Smallford Somerset Fruit and Joonas During the 1980 s the above companies developed straddle harvesters which were usually self propelled with two wheels each side of the bush and with the frame and driver about 8 foot above the ground immediately above the bush The operator drove the machine so that the bush was divided centrally and scooped into the central body of the machine where shaker fingers vibrated the fruit from the bush As these fingers shake at up to 2000 rpm the ripened fruit drops onto conveyor belts below where it was carried to upwards where fans blew of leaves and disgorged at the back into trays There would be two trailers at the back one each side of the bush where two operators would prepare trays check the fruit for quality and stack trays until the trailer was full and ready to be loaded onto pallets and then again onto the lorries Two important factors apply in respect of fruit harvested by straddle machines Firstly the machine is incapable of differentiating between fruit at varying stages of ripeness and therefore the sample may not be acceptable for some of our customers and secondly harvesters must be operated by highly capable and trained operators as the growers cannot afford to lose time in delays and breakdowns Both of these affect the percentage of crop recovered and its acceptability to the buyer However the fruit picked by straddle harvesters contains little or no strig compared with hand picked fruit Quality controllers at the back of the machines work hard to ensure any sticks or foreign bodies are removed We rarely harvest in wet weather wet fruit does not travel well and is unsuitable for freezing or storing Straddle harvesters are still widely used and have been further developed through the last 20 years to continuously improve performance minimise bush damage and incorporating health and safety requirements Many of the models also now use cross conveyors to move the fruit into a third row so that stoppage time is minimised as the tractors rotate The fruit is also usually picked into large ½ tonne bins which makes transport significantly easier A modern machine is usually operated in daylight hours only and depending on the hours worked can pick up to 50 tonnes in a day using only an operator 2 quality controllers and 2 tractor drivers a far cry from the crowds of handpickers of the 1960 s and 1970 s There are problems associated with modern harvesters such as the dust that can be created

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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - The Blackcurrant
    the blackcurrant industry for many years was the variety Baldwin Of unknown origin Baldwin is thought to be over 150 years old and whilst generally outclassed now in terms of agronomic performance it is still grown on a reduced scale today Baldwin has a mild flavour and reasonable levels of vitamin C but it is very susceptible to many foliar diseases including mildew and the flowers are extremely sensitive to damage by spring frosts There are several other very old varieties that can still be found in small quantities today including Lee s Prolific from 1860 Boskoop Giant 1880 and Wellington XXX 1913 The first of the Ben varieties bred at the Scottish Crop Research Institute was Ben Lomond released in 1975 This variety still occupies a significant proportion of the UK acreage and was released as a high yielding type with delayed flowering to avoid damaging spring frosts at flowering time This was achieved by the introduction of plant material from Northern Scandinavia into the SCRI programme thereby combining high yield potential and consistency The introduction of Ben Lomond into commercial blackcurrant growing was a pivotal event in the development of modern blackcurrant varieties and for many years Ben Lomond was the leading UK variety in both acreage and performance Ben Lomond has a high winter chilling requirement and its performance in southern parts of England may be affected after mild winters Although resistant to mildew when released Ben Lomond is now highly susceptible to this disease Released in 1989 Ben Alder offers very high levels of anthocyanins together with a typical blackcurrant flavour From a cross between Ben More and Ben Lomond this variety also has a more upright habit that is more amenable to mechanical harvesting It has fairly small berries held close to the stems and again has later flowering like Ben Lomond The late flowering character is most obvious in the variety Ben Tirran released in 1990 From a complex cross involving the old variety Seabrooks Black Ben Lomond and SCRI hybrids with some redcurrant ancestry Ben Tirran is the latest of all the Ben varieties in both flowering and ripening It is fairly high in vitamin C and its later ripening provides a means of extending the harvest Yields of Ben Tirran are consistently high throughout the UK Ben Hope was released in 1998 because of its high yields good flavour profile and especially because of its reduced susceptibility to gall mite big bud Estimates made in field trials at East Malling Research have shown Ben Hope to be up to 30 times more resistant to gall mite than other commonly available varieties making Ben Hope a valuable asset at a time when control measures for gall mite are increasingly limited The variety derives from a complex cross including Westra a form of the old variety Westwick Choice but with a very upright habit that is passed on to Ben Hope and a hybrid with some gooseberry ancestry from whence the relative resistance to

    Original URL path: http://www.blackcurrantfoundation.co.uk/varieties.html (2016-04-26)
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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - The Blackcurrant | Enviromental Management
    other natural food source as well as containing high concentrations of the beneficial nutrients of Potassium Magnesium Iron Calcium Vitamins A and B amongst others Emerging and existing research is now proving that blackcurrants can help in a number of common and important health areas including Cardiovascular Ageing and Brain Function Urinary Tract Health Vision Environmental Management British blackcurrant growing on a field scale is a long established method of fruit production that relies on traditional field patterns with smaller enclosures than many other farm crops and demands careful husbandry of both the crop and its environment The requirement to establish and retain the crop in a particular area for up to 15 years gives opportunities for environmentally friendly activities both within the crop and in the surrounding hedges and field margins The hedge is an asset to the blackcurrant grower providing shelter and protection for the crop The hedge is also one of the most vital environmental features in the farmed landscape and provides food shelter and breeding sites for our wildlife The retention of hedgerows helps the countryside to thrive and contributes to the beauty and managed appearance of the landscape British blackcurrant growers are grasping the new

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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - Nutrition & Health | Cardiovascular Health
    as much as an orange They can even help prevent joint inflammation eyestrain and urinary infections Find out more about how eating blackcurrants can help keep you healthy Cardiovascular Health A high intake of fruit and vegetables has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease For example it is well known that the flavonoid rich diet of the French who drink a lot of red wine is good for you Bibliography Ref 63 64 65 Blackcurrants are a natural readily available and rich source of flavonoids How do flavonoids reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease Eating foods and drinks that are rich in flavonoids can benefit the cardiovascular system in a number of ways Studies have shown that drinking wine or juices rich in flavonoids helps to improve the function of your blood vessels Bibliography Ref 66 67 68 Scientists have also shown that flavonoids can reduce blood stickiness in both laboratory tests Bibliography Ref 69 and in humans Bibliography Ref 70 71 This means reducing the chance of forming small blood clots which can injure the blood vessel lining and stops them working As well as stop blood vessels working properly small blood clots release harmful chemicals that can increase the formation of bad cholesterol also known as oxidised low density lipoprotein which sticks to the blood vessel walls Eventually this can lead to a narrowing of the arteries which will prevent the blood flowing around the body efficiently and could lead to increased blood pressure What scientific evidence is there Laboratory tests have found that flavonoids reduce the rate at which bad cholesterol is formed Bibliography Ref 72 73 Whilst some volunteer studies have shown that this occurs in the body after people have consumed wine or juices rich in flavonoids Bibliography Ref 74 75 76

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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - Nutrition & Health | Ageing And Brain Function
    Food Research Institute of New Zealand1 into the protective effect of food components on nerve cells found that the phenolic components found in blackcurrant out performed the corresponding compounds found in other fruit such as blueberry and boysenberry Dr Ghosh s studies suggest that the antioxidant ability of blackcurrant is such that the anthocyanins and the other components such as the procyanidins not only protected the nerve cells neurons from oxidative stress but also helped to regenerate the bodies own defence systems Dr Joseph and his colleagues in Tufts University recently revealed that feeding older rats with blueberry strawberry or spinach extracts significantly improved short term memory They also found that blueberry extract improved the rats body balance co ordination and running speed Bibliography Ref 82 83 Interestingly a blackcurrant extract was found to significantly prolong the life span of older dying mice Bibliography Ref 84 Dr Josephs group have been instrumental in many of the studies focussed on the beneficial effect of fruit derived polyphenolics with respect to neural related disease such as Alzheimers Parkinsons and Dementia2 Their detailed human cell studies have shown that supplementation with soft fruit polyphenolics such as anthocyanins flavanol catechins and hycroxy cinnamic acids resulted in the prevention of a variety of age related deficits including cognitive performance whilst increasing incidences of neurogenesis the creation of new nerve cells and neuroplasticity the ability of the brain to change with learning More recently model studies were undertaken to look at the effect that the polyphenolic components within soft fruit such as blueberry and boysenberry had on memory locomotion and anxiety3 Interestingly the experiments with a rat model demonstrated that these components showed significant improvements to short term memory one of the symptoms related to Alzheimer s disease Further support as to the ability of the fruit polyphenolic compounds to reduce oxidative stress and thereby reduce the effect of associated diseases and pathologies comes from recent studies with hippocampal cells believed to play a central role in memory 4 Compounds commonly found in blackcurrant like catechin and anthocyanidins were found to exhibit protective effects when the cells were stressed Other researchers found that this protection extended to the protection of nerve cells exposed to common products of ageing5 Low density lipoproteins are involved in cholesterol transport in the body but they are susceptible to oxidation during our normal ageing processes leading to the production of oxidise LDL oxLDL This was shown to enter nerve cells leading to DNA breakdown and ultimately cell death However polyphenolic compounds similar to those found in blackcurrant exerted a protective effect and reduced neurodegeneration Further more detailed studies by this group under Prof Rice Evans in King s College London showed that the procyanidins significant components of blackcurrants and their metabolites inhibit cell death induced by oxidative stress6 Corroboration of proanthocyanidins as beneficial dietary components was reflected in the report by Bagchi et al7 who reported that these compounds exhibit a broad scale protective effect in many different cell types An

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  • The Blackcurrant Foundation - Nutrition & Health | Urinary Tract Health
    way When the body detects the presence of bacteria in the wrong place it responds by activating the immune system to try and destroy them Unfortunately this causes inflammation at the place where our bodies are fighting the invaders which means that the area becomes swollen and sensitive This causes pain in the urinary tract especially during urination Cystitis is another word commonly used to refer to a UTI How might blackcurrants help to stop me getting a UTI Drinking a lot of blackcurrant juice or squash may help to prevent UTIs simply because drinking lots of any fluid means that the urinary tract is regularly flushed out Whilst the best treatment for a UTI is a course of antibiotics many people use plants with antibiotic properties to help prevent the infections Although the most famous of these is the cranberry scientists are beginning to think that the blackcurrant may be just as beneficial In the laboratory scientists looked at why cranberries were effective against foreign bacteria in the urinary tract and discovered that substances called proanthocyanidins from cranberries and blueberries stop bacteria from sticking to the walls of the tract preventing them from remaining there and causing infection 1 Blackcurrants may also get rid of bacteria from the urinary tract because they also contain proanthocyanidins 2 which can be found in urine after drinking blackcurrant juice 3 Furthermore blackcurrant juice blackcurrant extracts and single substances from blackcurrants have been tested in the laboratory and were found to stop the growth of some species of harmful bacteria 4 In a preliminary study on humans a blackcurrant juice was given to some elderly volunteers in a nursing home and was effective in relieving some of the symptoms of a UTI 5 Interestingly infection by Staphylococcus aureus MRSA a gastroenteritis bug has been shown to lead to other illness such as UTI 6 but blackcurrant wins again since scientists have recently shown that it is extremely effective at killing this bacteria 7 There can be few other fruit capable of giving such a broad spectrum of benefits 86 Ahuja S Kaack B and Roberts J Loss of fimbrial adhesion with the addition of Vaccinium macrocarpon to the growth medium of p fimbriated E coil Journal of Urology 1998 159 559 562 87 Fowler J E Urinary tract infections in women Urological Clinics of North America 1986 13 4 673 683 88 Henig Y S Leahy M M Cranberry juice and urinary tract health science supports folklore Nutrition 2000 16 7 8 684 687 89 Netzel et al Bioactive anthocyanins detected in human urine after ingestion of blackcurrant juice J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol 2001 20 2 89 95 90 Rechner et al The metabolism of dietary polyphenols and the relevance to circulating levels of conjugated metabolites Free Radic Res 2002 Nov 36 11 1229 41 91 Puupponen Pimia R Nohynek L Meier C Kahkonen M Heinonen M Hopia A Oksman Caldentey K M Antimicrobial properties of phenolic compounds from berries J Appl

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