|Sarah McGowan-Freije, NatureCity author & contributor|
Anthocyanins are the powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that give some fruits and vegetables their red, blue, or purple color. A recent study suggests that eating anthocyanin-rich blackcurrants from New Zealand improves alertness and reduces mental fatigue.
New Zealand blackcurrants have notably higher levels of antioxidants when compared with those from Europe. A previous study showed that they contain an average of 570 mg of anthocyanin content and that a variety grown in the countryside called Ben Ard has more than 700 mg. European blackcurrants have an average of 250-500 mg.
Participants in the study included 35 healthy young adults who were given a 70 minute computerized test that was purposely designed to cause stress and metnal fatigue. Participants who took the blackcurrant extract demonstrated higher accuracy without slowing down, higher levels of alertness, and less mental-fatigue at the conclusion of the trial compared to those who took a placebo.
Researchers from Plant & Food research in New Zealand conducted this preliminary study. It has not yet been published and the researchers stated that further investigation needs to be undertaken to determine the exact compounds in blackcurrants responsible for this effect.
Previous studies have shown that anthocyanins protect the body from damage by free radicals, which may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Anthocyanins can be found in red, blue, or purple fruits and vegetables. Blueberries, cranberries and acai have particularly high levels.