Blackcurrant berries have a powerful impact on blood sugar after meals

A type of dark berry called blackcurrant has been found to have a noticeable impact on blood sugar and insulin after meals — and that's with very limited quantities, according to the new study. Though this isn't the first study to find health benefits associated with blackcurrants, the University of Eastern Finland study has found that it only takes a small portion of the berries to see the benefits.

Berries, particularly dark ones, have been found to offer health benefits in a growing body of research. These benefits are often linked back to their polyphenols, which are plant chemicals that can have pronounced effects on human health. Much of the attention goes to blackberries and blueberries, but blackcurrants may be just as beneficial.

The researchers behind the latest study evaluated the effects of blackcurrants on blood sugar and insulin levels after a carb-rich meal, finding that it only took around two-and-a-half ounces of the berries to attenuate post-meal blood glucose response.

The study was fairly small with 26 participants, most of them female. The research involved giving the participants a blackcurrant-based food product with 31 grams of carbohydrates, including a control group that received food without blackcurrants. Fasting blood samples were taken from the participants, followed by additional samples starting at 15 minutes in intervals up to 180 minutes after the meal.

In the groups that were given the blackcurrant berry products, the study found that post-meal blood sugar and insulin levels were reduced from their maximum level, there was a delayed increase in free fatty acids triggered by low blood sugar, and it took longer for blood sugar to decrease.

The results support past research with the berries linking them to beneficial effects on blood sugar, but with the addition of smaller portion size. The researchers note that blackcurrant berries are easy to acquire and can be made into a variety of dishes, potentially making them a promising tool to help reduce one's type-2 diabetes risk with regular consumption.