Black Currant Oil: Nature’s Own Multivitamin of Good Fats
The small, round, juicy berries of the black currant plant are familiar ingredients in herbal teas and jams. However, the tiny seeds inside the berries are a rich source of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Oil produced from black currant seed contains 15-17 per cent Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) and 10-12 percent Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). GLA and ALA are essential nutrients – just like other vitamins and minerals, these good fats play specific roles in the maintenance of optimal health.
Black currant oil is one of the few natural sources where you’ll find both GLA and ALA combined which is why it is sometimes called “nature’s own multivitamin of good fats”.
The healthy benefits of GLA and ALA
The body needs EFAs or “good fats” just like it needs other essential vitamins and minerals to help prevent and treat numerous diseases. EFAs help control proper cell membrane structure – which allows the proper distribution of nutrients throughout your body. A deficiency in EFAs may actually cause certain conditions or at least aggravate them. So therefore it is important to get the proper amounts of EFAs.
Women have long used GLA products to combat the effects of premenstrual syndrome. Research done in the last 20 years has shown that women deficient in GLA are more prone to suffer symptoms such as breast pain, bloating, depression and cramps. There have been many instances where women have seen these symptoms lessen or disappear altogether after they started GLA supplementation.
Research has shown that GLA is also helpful in the treatment and prevention of a wide range of health problems including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis, where studies with GLA show significant improvement in joint stiffness, swelling and overall discomfort.
- Skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Research has shown that eczema may be linked to a GLA deficiency.
- Cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension and high blood cholesterol.
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Immune function
- Cancer prevention where GLA activates some anti-cancer defence mechanisms.
In recent years research has shown that ALA is also very beneficial to the body. The body converts ALA to EPA and DHA, two compounds recognized for their benefits in heart health, arthritis, and thrombotic disease. As well, DHA is noted for its effects on brain function, mood and behaviour. DHA is one of the building blocks for brain growth and development. Studies have shown that people who consumed more DHA were able to better sustain their mental abilities — including memory, concentration, and ability to communicate verbally.
ALA also has many benefits independent of EPA and DHA. It has been shown useful in heart disease, improving immune function, cancer prevention, and male infertility.
The average North American does get some of the required essential fatty acids through their diet – but the bottom line is they are not getting enough to maintain good health. Daily supplementation with black currant oil is a good way to help make sure your body receives a healthy mix of the good fats it needs.