by Jenna Koroly, MS, RD, CSOWM, CDN
Currants are a small, tart fruit in the gooseberry family. One cup of raw red currants contains 63 calories, 2 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, <1 g fat, and 5 g fiber. Red currants are rich in vitamin C, providing 77% of the daily value, and are also a good source of vitamin K, providing 15% of the daily value [i]. Similarly, one cup of raw black currants contains 71 calories, 2 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, <1 g fat, and 6 g fiber. They contain even higher amounts of vitamin C than their red counterparts, and are a good source of iron, potassium, and manganese [ii].
Vitamin C is known for its antioxidant and immune-boosting effects. It plays a role in the synthesis of collagen and neurotransmitters, as well as in protein metabolism. Vitamin C also helps to absorb iron, so pair your high iron foods such as spinach and broccoli with dried or fresh currants for increased absorption. Read more about vitamin C in our Food First Series here.
Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and bone metabolism. It regulates calcium in the body, via promoting accumulation in the bones and teeth, and reducing accumulation in the blood vessels. In this way, red currants may be beneficial to bone and cardiovascular health.
In a study on antioxidant capacity (AOC) of red currant, black currant, blueberry, raspberry, and cranberry extracts, the authors found a complex combination of anthocyanins to be the main contributor of AOC in black currants and blueberries, with a lower anthocyanin content and AOC in red currants and cranberries. 18-23% of the HPLC-AOC (high-performance liquid chromatography-AOC) of red currants, black currants, and cranberries was due to Vitamin C content [iii].
Ways to Eat
Currants can be eaten raw on their own, in yogurt, on salads, or even in overnight oats. They can be eaten dried in a trail mix, as well as used to make jams or baked goods. Black currant powder may be incorporated into smoothies or cooking. Don’t miss our Savor Cooks article featuring currants, coming soon!
[i] Currants, red and white, raw. Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1879/2
[ii] Currants, european black, raw. Retrieved from https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1878/2
[iii] Borges G, Degeneve A, Mullen W, & Crozier A, 2010. Identification of flavonoid and phenolic antioxidants in black currants, blueberries, raspberries, red currants, and cranberries. J Agric Food Chem, 58(7):3901-9. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20000747