Black currant (Ribes nigrum) grows in Europe and Asia. For centuries it has been used as a food and medicine. The astringent flavour of black currant complements many beverages and dishes. The leaves and berries of the black currant plant are used as an additive to alcohol preparations such as Russian vodka and beer.
Black Currant Seed Oil Contains Essential Fatty Acids
Black currant seed oil contains the essential fatty acids gamma-linolenic acid and alpha-linolenic acid. The extraction of oil from black currant seeds yields 17% gamma-linolenic acid and 13% alpha-linolenic acid. These significant amounts of essential fatty acids offer health benefits through supplementation. Gamma-linolenic acid falls in the omega-6 family of fatty acids and alpha-linolenic acid falls in the omega-3 family. Alpha-linolenic acid is similar to the beneficial fatty acids found in fish oils.
Black Currant Seed Oil and Gamma Linolenic Acid
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center's website, gamma-linolenic acid is the only omega-6 fatty acid that can reduce inflammation. It can also help in a variety of health conditions. It may improve nerve function for diabetes patients, relieve dry eye and maintain or improve bone mass and proper calcium absorption. Gamma-linolenic acid also shows promise in preventing or lessening allergic reactions. Allergy sufferers typically have lower levels of gamma-linolenic acid in their blood.
Black Currant Seed Oil and Inflammation
Due to the inflammation modulating benefits of black currant seed oil, it may be helpful for inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. By reducing the secretion of inflammatory cytokines, the gamma-linolenic acid in black currant seed oil may relieve the painful symptoms of this disease like morning stiffness and joint pain. Another benefit it may provide is a reduction in the amount of pain medication rheumatoid arthritis sufferers must take.
Black Currant Seed Oil and Cardiovascular Health
Although there have only been preliminary studies of the benefits of gamma linolenic acid in cardiovascular health, it may prove to be beneficial in decreasing blood pressure. One clinical study showed that sufferers of peripheral artery disease showed improved blood pressure levels when they took both gamma-linolenic acid and an omega-3 fatty acid. The anti-inflammatory properties of black currant seed oil may also reduce platelet aggregation and cholesterol levels.
Other Benefits of Black Currant Seed Oil
Black currant seed oil is also useful in preventing premature ageing as it reduces wrinkle formation and repairs tissue damage. The omega-6 fatty acids of black currant seed oil may be useful in treating eczema. It may also be beneficial in treating liver toxicity and withdrawal symptoms of alcohol abuse. Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome may also be reduced, alleviating cramps, depression and breast tenderness. Black currant seed oil could aid in repairing damage to the liver while reducing stress to the nervous system.
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