Blackcurrants from New Zealand are good for the brain

New research has found that blackcurrant varieties from New Zealand possess properties that can be good for brain health.

The new study was organized by a science company in NZ, Plant & Food Research, together with Northumbria University, U.K., to discover new foods that are healthy.

"This study is the first to look at the effects of berry consumption on the cognitive performance of healthy young adults," said lead author of the study, Dr. Arjan Scheepens of the Plant & Food Research, according to the Science Daily report.

The findings published in the Journal of Functional Foods gave focus on the blackcurrant varieties, Blackadder and DelCyan, and isolated their compounds that were seen to have the ability to elicit a positive effect on mental health, which includes improvement in attention, mood and precision.

The study noted that the Blackadder variety seems to affect the brain chemicals, which are responsible for mood function and involved in stress, anxiety, depression and the onset of Parkinson's disease.

For the experiment, researchers studied 36 healthy adults from ages 18-35 who were given either 250 ml of "Just the Berries" blackcurrant juice from the DelCyan variety, 250 ml of Blackadder blackcurrant juice or a placebo drink before undergoing mentally challenging tests.

The results showed improvements in mood and attention after participants consumed the blackcurrant drinks. Moreover, blood tests revealed that monoamine oxidase enzymes (MAO)—responsible for serotonin and dopamine regulation—were greatly reduced after consuming the Blackadder juice.

This suggests that compounds in the Blackadder variety can be an important food ingredient for brain health or can manage neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's.

According to Crystal Haskell-Ramsay of Northumbria University, the study may have focused on berries from New Zealand, but British berries can also offer the same health benefits.

Scheepens also said that the research shows how blackcurrants from NZ "can potentially add value, both for the food industry and for people looking for foods that naturally support their own health aspirations."