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Study Shows Anthocyanin-rich Blackcurrant Extract Has ‘Stark’ Effect On Recovery In Recreational Exercisers

Study shows anthocyanin-rich blackcurrant extract has ‘stark’ effect on recovery, reducing muscle soreness 49% in recreational exercisers

A new study1 published in Nutrients from Britain’s University of Surrey, shows that New Zealand Blackcurrant extract – CurraNZ® – can reduce muscle soreness by half in recreational exercisers undertaking strenuous exercise.

In the first study of its kind, the anthocyanin-rich blackcurrant supplement provided a ‘stark’ improvement to functional recovery when taken before and after a damaging bout of bicep curl exercises.

The study was performed in 27 men and women who were unaccustomed to exercise involving strength training to build muscle, otherwise known as ‘resistance’ training.

The same study’s clinical data demonstrated three-times faster recovery of muscle strength and reduced muscle soreness – great news for those of us who like to keep active, such as gym goers and individuals looking to take up exercise.

In summary, the clinical findings from the University of Surrey’s study, where respondents weresupplemented with 300mg (one capsule) of CurraNZ® blackcurrant extract, found:

  • Three-times faster recovery of muscle function over a 96-hour period. Blackcurrant participants regained muscle strength within 24 hours, while the placebo group recovered in 72 hours.
  • 47% and 49% less muscle soreness at 24 and 48 hours, compared to placebo
  • 84% less muscle tissue damage at 96 hours, compared to placebo

Exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) typically involves two phases of recovery, with a disruption to muscle fibres followed by a rise in inflammation, swelling and oxidative stress. These secondary events lead to additional tissue damage and the release of toxic by-products, which results in impaired muscle function and pain, also known as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

New Zealand blackcurrant extract is rich in anthocyanins, natural pigments responsible for the fruit’s dark purple colouring. These bioactives are regarded as nature’s biological response modifiers because of their antioxidant (7,8,14,15,) cardiovascular (9,10,11) and anti-inflammatory (12,13) qualities.

Scientists believe that supplementing before exercise may effectively prime muscle tissue to cope with the inevitable increase in oxidative stress (14,15,) while continued supplementation in the recovery period may attenuate secondary damage.

In this study, blackcurrant consumption reduced recovery time, with participants regaining muscle function within 1 day. It is not uncommon for recovery to take several days, as demonstrated in the placebo group.

Furthermore, blackcurrant consumption reduced the release of creatine kinase (a protein that leaks out of damaged muscle tissue into the circulation) by 84% compared to placebo at 96 hours post exercise, indicating the berry’s compounds protected muscles from secondary tissue damage.

The use of anthocyanin-rich foods and supplements have become popular for aiding post-exercise recovery in active people in recent years. However, the majority of studies on anthocyanin and antioxidant-rich interventions, such as beetroot2, blueberry3, tart cherry 4,5 and pomegranate6, have shown no effect on creatine kinase, a common measure to assess EIMD.

However, in this latest study, the New Zealand blackcurrant supplement – CurraNZ® - proved very effective, which is attributed to its antioxidant scavenging and anti-inflammatory abilities, as demonstrated in previous studies (12,13,14,15).

Dr Julie Hunt, lecturer in Sport and Exercise Sciences at the School of Biosciences and Medicine at the University of Surrey, led the research, using a minimum dose of 300mg CurraNZ Blackcurrant Extract. Participants took one capsule seven days leading to the experiment, an hour beforehand, then four days following testing.

Commenting on the resulting study data, Dr Hunt notes: “You can see by the creatine kinase levels that our exercise protocol caused significant muscle damage in the placebo group, but this response was absent in the New Zealand blackcurrant – CurraNZ – group.

“In line with this, those who consumed the extract reported half the level of muscle soreness and regained muscle strength faster during the 96-hour recovery period”.

“This is really indicative that the New Zealand blackcurrant extract suppressed the inflammatory and oxidative stress responses that stimulate pain receptors and further (secondary) muscle damage following strenuous exercise, aiding recovery”.

In summary, Dr Hunt adds: “Non-resistance-trained individuals are likely to experience more severe muscle damage as a result of doing strenuous unaccustomed exercise. They are likely to feel stiff and sore after a heavy session, which could put them off returning to the gym. A nutritional product like this is relevant because we want individuals to exercise at a sufficient frequency to promote training adaptations and health outcomes.

“There is a clear application for blackcurrant to facilitate exercise recovery as individuals regained their strength more quickly, while suffering up to 47% and 49% less muscle soreness at 24 and 48 hours.”

References

  1. Consumption of New Zealand Blackcurrant Extract improves recovery from exercise-induced muscle damage in non-resistance trained men and women: A double-blind randomized trial, Nutrients, 2021 https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13082875
  2. The effects of beetroot juice supplementation on indices of muscle damage following eccentric exercise. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016;116(2):353–62.
  3. Effect of New Zealand blueberry consumption on recovery from eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage. J Int Soc Sports Nutr [Internet]. 2012;9(1):19. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22564864%5Cnhttp://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=PMC3583121
  4. Montmorency cherry juice reduces muscle damage caused by intensive strength exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(8):1544–51.
  5. The effects of a tart cherry beverage on reducing exercise-induced muscle soreness. Isokinet Exerc Sci. 2017;25(1):53–63.
  6. No Effect of Tart Cherry Juice or Pomegranate Juice on Recovery from Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage in Non-Resistance Trained Men. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Jul 14;11(7):1593. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/7/1593
  7. Antioxidant capacity of small dark fruits: Influence of cultivars and harvest time. J Berry Res. 2014;4(2):97–105.
  8. Contribution of Anthocyanin Composition to Total Antioxidant Capacity of Berries. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2015;70(4):427–32.
  9. Beneficial physiological effects with blackcurrant intake in endurance athletes. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015;25(4):367–74.
  10. Anthocyanin-Rich New Zealand Blackcurrant Extract Supports the Maintenance of Forearm Blood-Flow During Prolonged Sedentary Sitting. 2020;7(May):1–10.
  11. Blackcurrant Alters Physiological Responses and Femoral Artery Diameter during Sustained Isometric Contraction. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 May 29;9(6):556. Available from: http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/6/556
  12. Short-term blackcurrant extract consumption modulates exercise-induced oxidative stress and lipopolysaccharide-stimulated inflammatory responses. Am J Physiol Integr Comp Physiol [Internet]. 2009 Jul;297(1):R70–81. Available from: https://www.physiology.org/doi/10.1152/ajpregu.90740.2008
  13. Black Currant Nectar Reduces Muscle Damage and Inflammation Following a Bout of High-Intensity Eccentric Contractions. J Diet Suppl. 2016;13(1):1–15.
  14. Consumption of an Anthocyanin-Rich Extract Made From New Zealand Blackcurrants Prior to Exercise May Assist Recovery From Oxidative Stress and Maintains Circulating Neutrophil Function: A Pilot Study. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2019 May 29;6(May). Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnut.2019.00073/full
  15. Daily Consumption of an Anthocyanin-Rich Extract Made From New Zealand Blackcurrants for 5 Weeks Supports Exercise Recovery Through the Management of Oxidative Stress and Inflammation: A Randomized Placebo Controlled Pilot Study. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2020 Feb 27;7(February):
  16. Physical Inactivity and Sedentary Behaviour Report, British Heart Foundation, 2017

For more information on CurraNZ please visit: www.curranz.com / curranz.co.nz / curranz.com.au

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