University of Chichester research on performance-improving blackcurrants

The significant impact of blackcurrants on exercise performance has been examined by the University of Chichester.

Researchers from the institution’s Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences studied how a seven-day intake of New Zealand blackcurrant extract affected athletes during a 16.1km cycling time-trial.

The results of the study showed that the competitors could complete the time-trial up to 2.4 per cent faster on average after taking the berries.

The work was recently featured within the Mail on Sunday and will be part of a Channel 4 documentary, Superfoods: The Real Story, on Monday 6 July.

The program, which starts at 8:30pm, saw athletes perform a 3km time-trial and, following seven-days of blackcurrant supplementation, return to see if the times could be improved.

PhD student Matthew Cook, who was filmed as part of the programme, said that the television documentary is a brilliant opportunity to showcase the work and demonstrate some of the sports science that the University conducts.

He added: “For several years the polyphenols within blackcurrant have been associated with many health benefits, especially in clinical populations.

“However, a series of studies conducted at Chichester over the last three years examining the effect of New Zealand blackcurrant on sports and exercise is a novel venture.”

The results from the studies have started to cement the use of blackcurrant as a functional food within sports and exercise, while the findings have been presented at international events including the International Society of Sports Nutrition conference 2014 and the International Sport and Exercise Nutrition Conference 2014.

The studies have also been accepted as publications with the journals International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism and the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

As a result, research leader Professor Mark Willems has received invites to deliver presentations about blackcurrant and exercise at the International Sport and Exercise Nutrition Conference 2014 and the International Blackcurrant Association 2015.

Professor Willems explained: “This is a really exciting time for research into blackcurrant and these results will have impact within Sports and Exercise nutrition.

“Our studies fit within our Chichester Centre of Applied Sport and Exercise Sciences (CCASES) research activities and support evidence based sports nutrition.”

To find out more about the University of Chichester’s work with blackcurrant contact Professor Mark Willems at m.willems@chi.ac.uk.

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