Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Blackcurrants are in season so it’s time to enjoy and they are packed full of fertility-friendly vitamin C along with other important plant chemicals. Did you know that Blackcurrants possess three times the amount of vitamin C as oranges, and double the amount of antioxidants as blueberries?
In terms of the amount of vitamins, black currants and raspberries remain unchanged champions among berries. Blackcurrants contain organic acids, tannins, pectin, essential oils, trace elements. They are also rich in vitamins K, B, E. But as indicated above, most of all, blackcurrants are valued for its record-breaking content of vitamin C.
Why is Vitamin C important in fertility?
Vitamin C appears to enhance sperm count, motility and quality and has been found to help to prevent sperm from clumping (agglutination). It is also thought to protect the sperm and helps to prevent damage to the DNA held within it.
In a study published in Fertility and Sterility, it was found that a moderate amount of supplemental vitamin C improves hormone levels (progesterone) and increases fertility in women.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and helps to counteract some of the free radicals that enter our bodies. Our bodies do not make vitamin C (and as it is a water-soluble vitamin and is therefore lost each day in our urine) so plenty of foods rich in vitamin C need to be included in the diet.
Why are Blackcurrants good for our general health?
Blackcurrants help boost immunity – they are high in vitamin C and antioxidants.
Blackcurrants are good for the heart – they contain antioxidants which help protect against atherosclerosis. They also contain potassium which is important in blood pressure regulation. Potassium also helps to maintain a regular heartbeat.
Blackcurrants may help protect against neuro-degenerate diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. This may be due to the anthocyanins which are abundant in blackcurrants and which may play an important role in protecting the brain from free radical damage.
Blackcurrants have been shown to be important in maintaining healthy eyesight and help protect against cataracts.
Blackcurrants seem to help protect against urinary tract infections- due to their potential antibacterial properties.
Blackcurrant seed oil – may help skin conditions such as eczema.
Blackcurrant syrup – immunity boost, also for sore throats.
Henmi, H. and Kitajima. Y. (2003) Effects of Ascorbic Acid Supplementation on Serum Progesterone Levels in Patients with a Luteal Phase Defect. Fertility and Sterility 80.2 : pp459-61.
McCance & Widdowson, The Composition of Foods, 5th Ed, RSC & MAFF
Souci, S.W., Fachmann, W., Kraut, H., Food Composition and Nutrition Tables, 2002, 6th Medpharm GmbH 2000
Song, G., Norkus, E. and Lewis,V.(2006) Relationship between Seminal Ascorbic Acid and Sperm DNA Integrity in Infertile Men. International Journal of Andrology 29.6 : pp569-75.