Currant Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Black currants in a bowl

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Currants may be tiny, but they pack a big nutritional punch. Like other berries, they are excellent sources of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, especially the flavonoid anthocyanin. While they've long been used in traditional medicine, researchers are now finding scientific evidence for the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial powers of currants.

Currants come in black, red, pink, and white varieties. They are primarily used in jams and jellies, as well as in fillings for pies and tarts, because of their acidic flavor (pink and white varieties are sweeter).

Currant Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for one cup (112g) of raw currants.

  • Calories: 63
  • Fat: 0.22g
  • Sodium: 1.1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 15.5g
  • Fiber: 4.8g
  • Sugars: 8.25g
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Vitamin C: 46mg

Carbs

Black currants have about 15 grams of carbohydrate per serving. They contain nearly 5 grams of fiber and are a source of natural sugar, providing about 8 grams. Black currents have a glycemic index of 22, which is considered low.

Fats

As a berry, currants are unsurprisingly nearly fat-free, with less than half a gram of fat per serving.

Protein

Black currants are also very low in protein, with less than 2 grams per serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

Currants are high in vitamin C, which supports healthy immune function. They also contain iron, which helps prevent anemia; calcium, which supports strong and healthy bones; and phosphorus, which aids in muscle contraction.

Currants also contain anthocyanins which act as an antioxidant and can help prevent harm from free radicals. Darker-colored (black and red) currants have more anthocyanins than white and pink varieties, but all have about the same amount of vitamin C.

Health Benefits

Consuming currants may provide certain health benefits. The fruit has been used in traditional medicine to treat conditions including Alzheimer's disease, the common cold, and the flu, but there is limited scientific evidence to support these uses.

However, some evidence shows that black currants provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial benefits that may help in the management of certain illnesses.

Help Treat Glaucoma

Several researchers have studied how the properties of currants may help in the treatment of glaucoma. One study found that the anthocyanin in black currant promotes an increase in ocular blood flow and may slow the progression of glaucoma progression.

Fight Inflammation

Researchers have also studied oils and other supplements made from currants which contain gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA may help decrease inflammatory processes in the body and improve symptoms of several inflammatory diseases. However, research is contradictory about these benefits and more high-quality studies need to be conducted to fully understand this benefit.

Lower Cholesterol Levels

Research has shown that black currant seed oil could help to maintain healthy cholesterol levels. For example, one study showed that consuming black currant seed oil regularly may help to improve total cholesterol levels and reduce levels of triglycerides, which is a type of harmful blood fat.

Improve Kidney Function

Some research has shown that drinking black currant juice helps make urine more alkaline, which helps to treat kidney stones.

Allergies

A few cases of currant allergy have been reported in people who were also sensitive to peaches and raspberries, and to grass pollens. 

Adverse Effects

Currants, along with numerous other foods, plants, and supplements, can potentially interfere with the blood-thinning prescription drug Coumadin (warfarin). Talk to your doctor about this risk if you are taking this medication.

Varieties

Currants come in red, pink, white, and black varieties. They are also related to gooseberries. In the U.S., black currants are commonly consumed dried. As with all fruit, drying currants significantly changes the nutritional profile per serving. Water is removed and volume is reduced when currants are dried, making it easier to consume more at a time than you would when they are in their fresh state. It is also important to note that many dried fruits have added sugar. For example, per 1-cup serving, dried currants contain over 11 times more sugar than the same serving size of fresh currents (97g vs. 8.25g, respectively).

However, the product you find in the store is often Zante currants, which are actually dried Corinth grapes—not currants at all. These dried fruits look and taste like raisins, and have significantly more sugar than fresh currants. So-called "seedless" currants are also not currants, but rather small grapes.

When They're Best

Currants are in season during the summer in the Northern hemisphere. Look for firm, plump berries. They grow in clusters, like grapes, but are pea-sized.

Storage and Food Safety

Store currants in the refrigerator for two or three days, or freeze (remove stems first). They will keep for about six months in the freezer.

How to Prepare

You can eat currants raw, but black currants, especially, are quite tart. Adding a bit of sugar or cooking the berries into jams, jellies, or sauces can help offset the tartness (but will also affect their nutritional profile). You can use currants in desserts in place of other berries, such as in these whole grain mini berry crisps.

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