More than one fruit goes by that name. There's the red, white, or black berry that grows on shrubs and the tiny dried and seedless Zante grape, similar to a raisin. Whichever version of the currant you choose, you are sure to reap healthy benefits. If you go with the Zante grape, which came to be called "currant", you will be getting a boatload of fibre - 9gm in one cup. Red and white currants are just the different colours of the same variety providing almost 5gm of fibre in a cup. But the healthiest currant of all might be the black currant, which is loaded with vitamin C and is a good source of potassium and ellagic acid — an important cancer fighting nutrient.
Fresh currants can be hard to find. Different currants have different uses. Black currants are used for making preserves, while the sweeter red and white kind can be eaten plain. Try snacking on them like raisins or baking with them. You can use them in jams, jellies, sauces, etc.
The currant effect
• If you eat currants, you don't have to worry about getting enough vitamin C as half a cup of these black berries contains more than 100mg of vitamin C which is well over the recommended dietary allowance. Vitamin C gobbles up free radicals that can damage your cells and cause cancer. It also boosts your immune system so your body can fight the disease. But vitamin C is not the only substance that can shield you from cancer. Black currants also contain ellagic acid which has been shown to stop cancer in several lab studies.
• Dried fruits represent a more concentrated source of nutrients which means that dried currants represent a concentrated assault on heart disease. A cup of these dried currants has almost three times as much as potassium as a banana which in conjunction with a low sodium intake, helps keep your blood pressure under control. It also lessens your chances of having a stroke and in addition to this is the benefit of fibre which not only lowers your cholesterol but also reduces your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
• With so much vitamin C, currants offer plenty of protection. There's not enough evidence to conclude that vitamin C prevents colds but it does cut down on how long you are sick because this mighty antioxidant vitamin helps boost your body's natural defences.
Monika Seth/Nutritionist and diet consultant specialising in weight loss at Al Raffah Hospital