Could consuming New Zealand blackcurrants be enough to earn an Olympic medal?

29 May 2020

The news is bright for the New Zealand blackcurrant industry, with a recent meta-analysis study showing that properties in New Zealand blackcurrants can improve sports performance.

A meta-analysis conducted by scientists from the University of Auckland and Plant & Food Research, and just published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, has concluded that the unique balance of anthocyanins in New Zealand blackcurrants clearly improve sports performance.

While numerous scientific studies have looked at the health benefits of berries, including blackcurrants, no previous studies have evaluated the overall scientific evidence around whether, and by how much, New Zealand blackcurrants improve sports performance. 

According to this meta-analysis, which included 9 clinical studies, consuming New Zealand blackcurrants could improve sports performance by 0.45% compared to a placebo. For a natural, plant-based, performance enhancer this is a significant result – especially considering the average difference between gold and silver at the Rio Olympics was 0.54%. By contrast, caffeine, which has been promoted as the best legal performance enhancer currently on offer, can improve sports performance by 0.41%.

What makes New Zealand’s blackcurrants effective for sports performance? This study, as well as other previous studies, raise the possibility that, in addition to improving blood flow, New Zealand blackcurrants may prime the body’s master antioxidant regulator, helping to mediate the benefits of training on oxidative stress management, inflammation and immunity.

Timing of intake is also highlighted in this review, with one to two hours prior to activity indicated as most effective, along with optimum dosage – with the effective dose appearing to be between 105-210mg of New Zealand blackcurrant anthocyanins.

While all berries have high concentrations of anthocyanins, not all berries are equal. The physiological effects of different berries suggest that they don’t all have the same bioactivity. When it comes to athletic performance, New Zealand blackcurrants may pack a little more punch than other berries.

So how can consumers be sure they're getting New Zealand blackcurrants? One way is choosing products displaying the Adaptive™ New Zealand blackcurrant brand, which assures consumers that they’re getting genuine New Zealand-grown blackcurrants. Adaptive™ New Zealand blackcurrant products contain the unique combination of anthocyanins not found in other berries or blackcurrants grown elsewhere in the world in the quantities that are required to have a biological effect.

Read the paper

This press release has been edited to clarify the relationship between New Zealand-grown blackcurrants and the Adaptive™ New Zealand blackcurrant brand. For more information on Adaptive New Zealand blackcurrants, visit plantandfood.co.nz/adaptive.

Contact:
Sarah Evans
Senior Communications Advisor, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
EMail: media@plantandfood.co.nz
Telephone: +64-9-925-3531
Mobile: +64-21-523-013