'An exciting discovery': Blackcurrant extract amplifies heart-health & metabolic benefits of exercise: RCT

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

© Monty Rakusen / Getty Images
© Monty Rakusen / Getty Images

Related tags blackcurrant Sports nutrition Anthocyanin Blood pressure

A high-potency New Zealand blackcurrant extract may amplify the heart-health benefits of exercise by boosting the blood pressure-lowering effects that occur in the recovery phase, says a new study from the UK.

Seven days of supplementation with of the 35% anthocyanin extract, CurraNZ, boosted the hypotensive effects of the 60-minute exercise task by an average 2.1% compared to placebo, according to data published in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

“This study has shown that short-term intake of blackcurrant extract effectively increases the hypotensive benefits of exercise, which is an exciting discovery and novel finding,” said Dr Matthew Cook, Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Science at the University of Worcester, and lead researcher on the project.

“Exercise is a well-known way of managing high blood pressure, because of its effects on reducing resting values. We know that elevated blood pressure is a modifiable risk factor for various diseases, and even small changes in blood pressure can have large implications for health across the lifespan,” he added.

“These changes in healthy adults are clinically meaningful because a 3mmHg reduction in blood pressure is equivalent to lowering cardiovascular mortality risk factors by 5%.”

CurraNZ

Health Currancy, the company behind the CurraNZ anthocyanin extract, provided the product and placebo capsules for the study. It is the seventh cardiovascular investigation and 12th energy metabolism study on the product, following a ten-year research program that is now approaching 50 studies.

The CurraNZ supplement has been reported to improve the health and function of the cardiovascular system in young and older adults by inducing vasodilation, increasing blood flow and normalizing blood pressure, along with enhancing fat metabolism.

CurraNZ is a three-time Nutra Ingredients Sports Nutrition Product Champion in Europe, Asia and the USA and a finalist in the 2023 USA awards.

Study details

The researchers recruited 15 healthy, untrained adults with an average age of 31 to participate in their double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study. All the subjects had normal blood pressure, and were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or 600mg CurraNZ blackcurrant extract for seven days. This was followed by a two-week ‘washout’ period before the adults switched over to the other group.

Two hours after their final dose in each intervention period, the participants underwent 60 minutes of low-to-moderate treadmill exercise and their blood pressure, energy metabolism (fat and carbohydrate use) and heart rate variability were measured.

Results showed that the blackcurrant extract was associated with increased post-exercise hypotension (blood pressure reduction), with an average 2.1mmHg decrease in systolic blood pressure recorded.

In addition, fat metabolism was increased by an average of 66% during exercise, said the researchers.

“Fat metabolism during exercise is an important factor for endurance performance and increasing the body’s ability to use fat during exercise, which could be beneficial to performance during events where the bodily stores of carbohydrate are important,” said Dr Cook.

On the other hand, no impact on was recorded for heart rate variability, which could have been a potential mechanism behind the blackcurrant extract’s hypotensive benefits.

Dr Cook said that it would be interesting to repeat the study in hypertensive adults, who would likely be more sensitive and may demonstrate an even larger post-exercise response.

“It would also be of interest to repeat the study and extend the testing window, because post-exercise hypotension can occur for 12-24 hours before returning to baseline,” he added.

Source: International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2023-0014
“New Zealand Blackcurrant Increases Postexercise Hypotension Following Sustained Moderate-Intensity Exercise”
Authors: Y. Shan and M.D. Cook

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