Did you know that black currants carry approximately 4x the amount of Vitamin C as oranges, and twice the number of antioxidants as blueberries?
You may not have heard much about the humble black currant (and we'll go into detail why below), but this tiny tart berry is packed with incredible nutrients and antioxidants and can help prevent heart disease, control glaucoma, decrease inflammation, increase immunity and even potentially slow down cancer growth.
In this post, we'll discover top 13 amazing black currant oil benefits, including its history, incredible health properties, uses and more:
Table of Contents
- What is Black Currant Seed Oil?
- Black Currant History
- Properties of Black Currant Seed Oil
- Benefits of Black Currant Oil
- Black Currant Oil for Immunity
- Black Currant Oil for Dry Eye
- Black Currant Oil for Visual Fatigue
- Black Currant Oil for Glaucoma
- Black Currant Oil for Herpes
- Black Currant Oil for Heart Health
- Black Currant Oil for Anti-aging
- Black Currant Oil for Arthritis and Joint Pain
- Black Currant Oil for Hair
- Black Currant Oil for Skin
- Black Currant Oil for PMS and Menopause
- Black Currant Oil for Cancer
- Black Currant Oil for Brain Health
- How to Buy Black Currant Seed Oil
- Key Takeaways
What is Black Currant Seed Oil?
Extracted from the seeds of the black currant shrub, a plant with dark purple-black berries that grows in areas of Europe, Asia, New Zealand and in the mid-western States in the USA, black currant seed oil is growing popularity in many parts of the world.
Known scientifically as ribes nigrum, when eaten whole, black currants leave a dark purple color on your tongue and are super-rich in vitamin C and a host of other nutrients. They are especially popular in Europe where they are used to make fruit juice, jelly, jam, and black currant flavored ice cream.
Along with tasting delicious, black currants have many health benefits and were traditionally used to protect again the cold virus, treat diarrhea, control gout, alleviate PMS, and improve digestion. Just like the fruit, the oil extracted from the seeds also has many medicinal benefits, which we'll explore in detail below — but first, let's take a quick look at the history behind this antioxidant-rich berry.
Black Currant History
Never heard of the black currant? Well, you're not alone.
If you lived in the USA back in the 1800s, black currants were one of the most popular berries to be found. However, in the early 1900s, it was uncovered that the plant was responsible for spreading a fungus called the white pine blister rust, that attacked white pine trees.
After the annihilation of millions of pine trees, black currant was finally eradicated by the US government in the 1920s.
Jump to the 21st Century, and most white pine trees can resist the fungus today, however, some US states still have growing restrictions in place for the black currant.
In Europe however, black currant is still really popular. If you've ever had Ribena, the famous black currant juice, that's been around since the second world war, you know what we mean. The drink was actually given to children to prevent scurvy during the war as it contains a high concentration of Vitamin C when the import of other citrus fruits was banned in the UK.
Black currants are also making a comeback in the USA with black currant farms in New York, Connecticut, and other states, introducing them back in the US market.
Now that we've learned about the history of the black currant, let's take a more detailed look at black currant seed oil, and discover all of its amazing properties and health benefits.
Properties of Black Currant Seed Oil
A popular health supplement, black currant oil is brimming with antioxidants, anti-inflammatory activity, and antibacterial action. Along with essential vitamins and minerals, it contains high concentrations of the following incredible health-boosting nutrients:
- Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
- Vitamin C
Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
Black currant oil is an excellent natural source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Omega-3 - alpha-linolenic acid (EFA) and Omega-6 gamma linoleic acid (GLA) are not produced naturally by the body and therefore need to be consumed through food or supplementation.
In fact, black currant oil is one of the primary plant-based sources of GLA. Other sources include evening primrose oil, borage oil, pumpkin seed oil, and hemp oil.
Research suggests that gamma linolenic acid (Omega 6 fatty acid) has immune boosting properties and helps to fight inflammation and disease. It also helps to promote healthy skin, strong nails and prevent hair loss.
Black currant oil has an extremely high concentration of Vitamin C. As mentioned above, it has 4 times the amount of Vitamin C as that of oranges.
Why is Vitamin C so important?
There are plenty of reasons. Vitamin C helps the body in the absorption of iron, which in turn helps oxygen circulation in the blood. It's also one of the best vitamins to fight the flu and the common cold.
Vitamin C also helps in the production of muscle tissue and collagen, an important protein. Collagen helps maintain elasticity in the skin and keeps it supple, and is essential in strengthening bones, and supporting connective tissues in ligaments, cartilage, and tendons.
Providing high concentrations of vitamin C, black currant oil is great for sustaining joint health and amazing for anti-aging.
Black currants are rich in plant-based pigments called anthocyanins, which are essential antioxidants, that give the berry its deep purple color. Other anthocyanin loaded foods include purple grapes, strawberries, blueberries, cherries, raspberries, and red cabbage, and their hues will either be red, blue or purple depending on the pH levels of the pigment they contain.
Studies have shown that anthocyanins can be used for the prevention of obesity and type 2 diabetes, heart health, and even cancer. Acting as antioxidants, anthocyanins help to fight free radicals in the body which can help to protect cells and prevent disease.
Research shows that black currant extract contains, "fifteen anthocyanin structures," making it a highly potent source of receiving these benefits.
Black currants also contain polyphenols, micronutrients rich in antioxidants that are found in foods such as chocolate, blueberries and green tea. Polyphenols have shown to help with reducing inflammation, which is often at the root of most chronic diseases, including certain types of cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative conditions.
Polyphenols are also known to improve weight control and treat digestive problems.
Black currant seed oil also contains plant-based compounds or sterols, called phytosterols. Even at low concentrations, these compounds can provide incredible health benefits.
One study concluded that black currant seed oil, "is a good source of essential fatty acids, tocopherols, and phytosterols." These power-packed nutrients can help to control inflammation, lower blood sugar, regulate the thyroid and reduce blood cholesterol levels.
Black currant oil also contains a multitude of other vitamins and minerals including all the B vitamins, thiamin, pantothenic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and Vitamin E.
Benefits of Black Currant Oil
1. Black Currant Oil for Immunity
As mentioned above, black currant oil is abundant with vitamin C which makes it an excellent anti-viral. It's also rich in anthocyanins and antioxidants which help to build immunity and alleviate cold and flu symptoms.
A study conducted on elderly participants showed that black currant seed oil had a moderate "immune-enhancing effect" on the subjects, mainly due to its "ability to reduce prostaglandin E2 production."
With aging, the body starts to produce more prostaglandin E2, this can lower immune function. Black currant seed oil supports the body with GLAs and ALAs (Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids) which decrease prostaglandin from synthesizing, directly boosting immunity.
As a result, supplementing with black currant seed oil can assist the body to deal with infections making it an effective antimicrobial, antifungal and antiviral. It can also help you recover faster from a cold or flu and help to fight cold-related symptoms.
2. Black Currant Oil for Dry Eye
Suffer from dry eyes?
A 2003 study showed that "supplementation with gamma-linolenic acid (black currant seed oil) and omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids improved ocular irritation symptoms, maintained corneal surface smoothness, and inhibited conjunctival dendritic cell maturation," in thirty-eight postmenopausal female participants with "moderate to severe dry eye."
Supplementing with black currant seed oil can provide relief for dry eye sufferers possibly due to its high concentration of essential fatty acids. Low levels of healthy fats may lead to fewer tears, which is a definite contributing factor to dry eye.
3. Black Currant Oil for Visual Fatigue
If you sit on the computer for long hours you may suffer from visual fatigue. This basically means that your eye muscles tighten and get strained and can lead to a feeling of heaviness, blurry vision and even headaches.
Research showed that 1 tbsp of black currants significantly reduced "visual fatigue following prolonged visual display terminal (computer screen) work 2 hours after consumption." Also, the group that did not supplement with black currants displayed a "significant deterioration in refractive index indicating visual fatigue," whereas the participants who did take black currants did not experience any of these symptoms.
Clinical trials have also shown that anthocyanin in black currents can help to improve the ability of the eyes to adapt to the dark.
4. Black Currant Oil for Glaucoma
Glaucoma is an eye disease that causes damage to the eye's optic nerve due to high pressure in the eye, caused by fluid build-up. If left untreated it can lead to blurry vision, defects in the visual field, and even vision loss and blindness.
Certain studies have shown that anthocyanins in black currant oil can help to prevent and control the symptoms of glaucoma and promote improved vision.
One study showed that after the consumption of 50mg of black currents for 6 months, there was a significant increase in blood flow at key sites in the eye.
Another study concluded that patients with glaucoma supplementing with 50mg of black currant per day saw a decrease in eye intraocular pressure (IOP), which was not apparent in the placebo group. After a year of supplementation, visual field deterioration was also significantly less than the placebo group.
A third study showed that black currant extract decreased levels of a hormone called endothelin-1, that is considered to be a contributing factor to the progression of glaucoma.
These studies show that when combined with conventional medication, black currant seed oil is a potentially promising supplement for glaucoma patients.
5. Black Currant Oil for Herpes
One of the most common STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), the herpes virus, affects millions of people globally.
Symptoms include painful blisters around the mouth or genital area, which can get painful and annoying.
A 2003 in-vitro study showed that black currant extract "inhibits virus replication in cells," as it stopped the virus from attaching to cells, thereby preventing the spread of the herpes infection.
The study concluded that black currant seed extract could be a "possible candidate" for treating herpes infections.
6. Black Currant Oil for Heart Health
If you're having issues managing your cholesterol levels, black currant oil can help.
Studies have shown that black currant seed oil can lower bad cholesterol (LDL levels) and raise good cholesterol (HDL levels), which means that it can potentially lower your risk of cardiovascular disease and even help to control blood pressure.
Abundant with essential fatty acids, the GLAs in black currant oil help to slow down blood platelet clotting. These clumps can not only damage artery walls but also release cholesterol causing compounds that can stick to the blood vessel lining. As the arteries clog up and narrow, blood circulation is affected leading to an increase in blood pressure.
Research has shown that black currant oil not only helps to prevent cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) but also helps to control LDL cholesterol levels.
One study researching the prevention of cardiac arrhythmia in aged rats showed that blackcurrant seed oil even had an "enhanced benefit" over "evening primrose oil or sunflower seed oil," possibly due to its high GLA levels, making it an excellent supplement to take for heart health.
7. Black Currant Oil for Anti-aging
Antioxidants are the secret to anti-aging, and black currant oil is brimming with them!
Research shows that berries are high in antioxidants, and can actually slow down the aging process. The antioxidants in black currant oil can help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals, causing less wear and tear, and reflecting positively on the appearance of your skin.
Vitamin C present in black currant seed extract, also helps to improve collagen production, keeping your skin elastic, and preventing fewer wrinkles as you age. Vitamin E in the oil protects against sun damage, and the anti-inflammatory properties of the oil are beneficial for all kinds of conditions such as heart disease, dementia, and arthritis that can lead to quicker aging.
8. Black Currant Oil for Arthritis and Joint Pain
An excellent anti-inflammatory, black currant seed oil can help to fight inflammation that causes joint pain and leads to chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Research shows that "healthy fats such as gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and omega-3s work by several pathways to reduce the dangers of inflammation throughout the body."
Another promising study revealed that in a trial of fifty-six patients with rheumatoid arthritis who received 2.8g of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) showed "significant improvements related to joint pain, stiffness and grip strength" at 6 months and considerable improvement in a year of taking GLA.
In a 24 week trial, black currant seed oil helped reduce "signs and symptoms of disease activity in patients with RA." Rich in high concentrations of GLA, these studies show that black currant oil can help reduce inflammation in the body, easing pain, soreness, and stiffness in the muscles and joints.
9. Black Currant Oil for Hair
Do you have dry, frizzy hair with split ends? Is your hair thinning?
When consumed internally as a supplement, over a period of time, black currant oil can provide your body with essential fatty acids that can support your hair follicles with much-needed nutrition. This encourages thicker hair growth and strengthens the hair.
The gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in black currant oil helps to essentially moisturize the hair, making it less dry, which can help to prevent hair from thinning and lessen hair-splitting.
You won't notice results overnight, as with any other supplement — however, on average you can expect to see results in 6-8 weeks of taking the supplement on a regular basis.
10. Black Currant Oil for Skin
Black currant oil is highly effective when it comes to soothing the skin and controlling the spread of skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and eczema.
When taken internally, black currant oil has been recommended by the National Psoriasis Foundation to control symptoms such as dryness, itching, and burning. High levels of GLAs in the oil reduce dryness, preventing the skin from flaking.
When symptoms are better controlled, there's a lesser need to itch, which helps to control inflammation and infection and stop chronic skin conditions from spreading.
GLAs can also help with controlling breakouts and alleviating the symptoms of acne, by reducing inflammation and skin redness.
Vitamin C in the oil improves collagen production, increasing skin elasticity, giving you glowing skin and stronger nails.
11. Black Currant Oil for PMS and Menopause
The body uses gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) or Omega 6 essential fatty acids to produce prostaglandins, compounds that maintain cellular function, improve immunity and skin health. They also help to regulate the menstrual cycle in women.
GLAs have shown to be helpful in alleviating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and improving symptoms such as low mood and tender breasts in women going through PMS.
Black currant seed oil contains high levels of GLAs and can alleviate PMS symptoms and help to control irritable moods, insomnia, body aches and pains, and more. It may also help menopausal women deal with hot flashes and control night sweats.
Many women prefer not to take medications to control their PMS symptoms but rather rely on essential fatty acids. Unlike drugs, black currant oil is a much safer alternative if you're looking to find PMS relief.
12. Black Currant Oil for Cancer
The root cause of cancer is free radicals. These are toxins which are released when oxygen metabolizes. This process known as oxidative stress can cause a lot of damage to the body. Antioxidants are chemicals that balance free radicals and can prevent, or minimize the damage caused.
So, consuming supplements with high antioxidant content such as black currants may help slow down the progression of diseases such as cancer, and there's supporting research to prove it.
Research conducted in 2010 showed that black currant extract was found to be the "second most effective amongst nine different berry extracts studied for their free radical scavenging activity," and could potentially be "useful in the prevention and treatment of human hepatocellular carcinoma," or liver cancer.
Other research showed that black currant extract which has "high amounts of anthocyanin polyphenols, which have antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic health benefits," could inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells and endometrial (uterine) cancer.
A 2016 study showed that black currant extract may possibly be "a promising anticancer candidate," by inducing "cancer cell apoptosis," or cancer cell death.
These are promising studies to show that black currant seed oil may be effective for preventing cancer and controlling cancer cell growth.
13. Black Currant Oil for Brain Health
As the brain ages, it may affect cognition and cause memory issues. The essential fatty acids in black currant oil have shown to improve memory, concentration, and cognition.
Just taking essential fatty acids is not going to help as much as taking them in the right ratio. Black currant oil provides an excellent ratio between ALA (Omega-3) and GLA (Omega-6) which is crucial for mental health and can help ease symptoms of ADHD, depression, dementia, Parkinson's disease, and other brain disorders.
Research out of the Journal of Functional Foods showed that thirty-six healthy young adults who were supplemented with black currant extract displayed "attention and mood" improvements and reduced "mental fatigue" as compared to the placebo group - both groups were tested on the same demanding mental tests.
The research also showed a significant decrease in monoamine oxidase enzymes (MAO) which in high numbers could lead to oxidative stress and affect neurotransmitter levels. This could also potentially explain the role of black currant seed oil in improving cognition and supporting brain health.
How to Buy Black Currant Seed Oil
At GoodLifeProvision our black currant seed oil is extracted using a non-toxic hexane method and is a 100% pure natural formula containing no GMOs. It's also gluten-free and contains no added additives like soybean oil. What's more...it's made right here in the USA!
Our unique formula contains 140mg GLA, enhancing its benefits, so you get the most out of each supplement.
The recommended dosage is two soft gels at 1000mg per day.
Note: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding please consult with your health care provider before taking any supplements.
- Black currant oil is extracted from the seeds of the black currant shrub, a plant with dark purple-black berries
- The oil extracted from the seeds of the black currant is rich in antioxidants and high in omega-3 (ALA) and omega-6 fatty acids (GLA)
- Black currant oil is one of the primary plant-based sources of GLA; GLA is not naturally produced by the body so, therefore, has to be consumed
- Vitamin C in black currant oil helps in the production of muscle tissue and collagen and boosts immune function
- Rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants that give the berry its deep purple color, black currant oil can be used for the prevention of diabetes, heart health, and even cancer
- Excellent for promoting vision, black currant oil can provide relief from dry eye, visual fatigue, and glaucoma
- Great for women's health, supplementing with the oil can control both PMS and menopausal symptoms and help with anti-aging
- Always choose black currant supplements with a 100% pure natural formula, containing no GMOs, and containing no added additives