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Research Reveals NZ Blackcurrant Extract Can Cut Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes And Help Fight Obesity

A newly published study shows that taking blackcurrant extract could be the answer to dramatically reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

New Zealand has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world, a major cause of severe health issues, including Type 2 diabetes. While more common in over-65-year-olds, data from the Ministry of Health’s Virtual Diabetes Register show the risk of Type 2 diabetes in people aged 30–39 has almost doubled over the last 12 years.

The groundbreaking research from England’s Liverpool John Moores University suggests that a potent polyphenol group of compounds, anthocyanins, found in locally grown New Zealand blackcurrants, improves insulin sensitivity and postprandial glucose excursions (sugar spikes post a meal) in overweight/obese individuals.

The study, published in European Journal of Nutrition, investigated the effect of repeated daily intake of New Zealand blackcurrant anthocyanins on metabolic responses in sedentary obese and overweight individuals under ‘free living’ conditions.

The findings showed improved insulin sensitivity a staggering 22%; reduced post-meal glucose responses up to 9% and reduced circulating levels of the inflammatory marker C-Reactive Protein by 24%.

Previous studies have highlighted the potential for berry-derived flavonoids and anthocyanins to reduce Type 2 Diabetes risk. The difference with New Zealand blackcurrants is that they contain 1.5 times more anthocyanins than European-grown fruit because of the Canterbury region’s strong ultraviolet light, which stimulates the growth of these protective pigments, found in the skin of the berry.

With one of the highest recorded anthocyanin values of any commonly-found berry, this new study suggests New Zealand blackcurrants may offer an effective, simple health management to help dramatically reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

Participants took two capsules (600mg) of CurraNZ® New Zealand blackcurrant extract or a placebo every day for eight days while going about their normal daily activities and maintaining their customary diets.

They were fitted with continuous glucose monitors, which provide an indirect measure of blood sugars throughout the day and specifically the responses following a meal. High blood sugar responses to each meal increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

The researchers found the effect of New Zealand blackcurrant extract improved responses to a normal meal. Just one week’s intake significantly lowered post-breakfast and lunch glucose concentrations and improved whole-body insulin sensitivity by 22%.

Overweight individuals typically develop chronic inflammation, which leads to insulin resistance, poor blood flow and increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular disease. In this study, CurraNZ also lowered the inflammatory marker C-Reactive Protein, which came as a surprise to the researchers.

Dr Sam Shepherd, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Nutrition at John Moores University, who led the study, says: “CRP mainly comes from the liver in response to inflammation and can influence insulin sensitivity. The change to CRP in this study indicates that in just a short period of seven-to-eight days, New Zealand blackcurrant anthocyanin could be improving insulin sensitivity in the liver.”

Troublingly, the success rates for treatments, which primarily revolve around long-term diet restrictions and exercise programs, remain poor, and daily intake of blackcurrant presents a user-friendly intervention.

Dr Shepherd says: “We know that exercise and specific diets can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes, and New Zealand blackcurrant capsules provide another approach. The big difference is its implementation, as unlike exercise and diet, taking two blackcurrant capsules a day doesn’t require a lot of effort from the user.”

According to data from the Ministry of Health, it is estimated that the number of Kiwis diagnosed with diabetes exceeds 250,000 (predominantly type 2 diabetes), with a further 100,000 people who are living with diabetes undiagnosed. New Zealand Blackcurrant extract hails a simple, cost-effective and user-friendly treatment which, when taken twice a day, can reduce the risk of developing the disease.

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