We talk about our reductionist obsession of extracting nutrients from nature and packaging them up into neat little bottles of health supplements. Dr Martyn Williamson uses our home grown Blackcurrants as an example of this misguided mindset.
“I’ve just finished reading an article on research that shows just how healthy New Zealand blackcurrants are. And they are!” Says Martyn. “They’re very good for our health and In fact, most dark berries are excellent for good health.”
But the sorts of questions that rattle round most people’s heads when it comes to this topic still leave us somewhat uncertain. Questions like; Is one berry better than another? What exactly is the active ingredient in blackcurrants that makes them so healthy? How much should I eat to absorb the benefits? Could I possibly be even healthier if I take a supplement version? Can i still get everything I need from a juice?
“Well,” says Martyn, “NZ Blackcurrants claim that blackcurrants have high levels of anthocyanin and other similar phytonutrients which are associated with cancer prevention, control of diabetes, slowing of the ageing process, and prevention of memory loss amongst other things. Also, if consumed 60mins before exercise, blackcurrants may improve recovery from reducing the post exercise inflammation and muscle damage which gives us those stiff muscles when we overdo things. And yes, according to NZ Blackcurrants, The combination of New Zealand’s pristine environment, unpolluted air, high ultraviolet light intensity, and specially bred varieties results in our berries having some of the highest anthocyanin levels in the world.”
So should we start drinking copious amounts of blackcurrant juice and have blackcurrant seed oil on our food?
“The truth of the matter” says Martyn, “is that we’re actually better off eating blackcurrants whole. Getting the whole package just as nature intended. The beneficial effects of blackcurrants are those associated with a WFPB nutrition lifestyle. Have it as a juice, and at best you lose the fibre the nutrients are wrapped in. Fibre helps the body maximise on the berry’s nutritional benefits. At worse, you’re likely to be consuming the beverage with a heap of added sugar which is definitely not so good.”
Dr Martyn goes on to say “We know that Blackcurrants have Further possible health benefits related to anthocyanins and other phenolics, which are currently being investigated, but there isn’t actually a suite of head to head trials that rules Blackcurrants as being our No.1 berry. And it probably doesn’t make sense to do one anyway since the beauty of a whole food diet/nutrition plan is that it’s the whole package – which we know is healthy.”
So are blackcurrant eaters healthier than those who have a calorie sufficient WFPB diet with wide ranging fruits and vegetables and all the colours of the rainbow? Martyn explains that there are no current trials on this, but that he doubts it would make much of a difference.
“The long and short of it is that Blackcurrants are a healthy food. If you’re eating a less than healthy diet, then the protective powers of this remarkable fruit are a power house for your health. If you eat WFPB, then they form a wonderful addition to the range of foods you consume. You can relax though, because if you’re already eating a whole food plant based diet, you’ll certainly be getting enough of the right nutrients anyway.”
Isn’t that wonderful? You can just eat the WFPB foods you like! You will find that throughout our posts and articles we will be emphasising the total package rather than individual foods and components of those foods. And once you get the hang of that, food will just be pleasurable and you can live life the way it was meant to be lived.
Dr Martyn finishes by saying “Oh, and by the way, I don’t know of any studies which show that taking extra of a particular nutrient on top of a healthy diet makes any difference whatsoever. So no need for magic foods and magic ingredients. Spend your money and time on something else!”
Amen to that!