Health-promoting substances in this tiny berry can help manage pain and inflammation, keep your vision clear and protect against the development of chronic diseases. With so much medical potential, it is no wonder cassis is being touted as the next super fruit.

You may have sipped on super-sweet crème de cassis, the famous liquor from Burgundy, France, or tasted it in a champagne cocktail, or enjoyed cassis syrup drizzled over a fruit sorbet. As a whole fruit, however, the cassis berry, also known as black currant, has eluded the palates of most Americans.

Originally hailing from Burgundy, France, and popular throughout Europe, cassis is a tiny, berry-like fruit with deep purple skin and flavorful green flesh. Those who are familiar with the berry use it fresh and dried, in both sweet and savory dishes, for sauces, in salads and jellies, and baked into puddings, cakes, and scones. The fragrant buds and leaves, and sometimes the dried fruit, are used to make black currant tea.

In traditional folk medicine, healing properties are attributed to the bark, branches, seed oil, buds and berries of the black currant plant and extracts have been used to treat everything from sore throats to hemorrhoids.  Today, researchers are ferreting out the scientific principles that underlie some of the traditional claims about the healing power of cassis.

Like most edible fruit and berries, black currant is high in fiber, vitamin C and other antioxidants that are known to protect body cells from damage and prevent disease. Blue and purple-skinned fruits and vegetables, including black currants, get some of their healing power from a substance called anthocyanin, the phytochemical (plant chemical) that gives them their deep, dark color. Anthocyanin pigment works with vitamin C as an antioxidant and is thought to help maintain visual health and protect against the development of cancer cells.

Black currant may be somewhat unique among fruit plants, however, because it contains essential fatty acids that are known to help fight inflammation associated with chronic diseases such as arthritis and heart disease and to help manage chronic pain. These fatty acids, known as gamma-linolenic acids (GLA), are a type of omega-6 fatty acid found in plant seeds that have been strongly associated with decreased inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.  GLAs may also be beneficial for reducing nerve pain in people with diabetic neuropathy, for helping to prevent bone loss associated with aging and osteoporosis and to relieve symptoms of allergies and premenstrual syndrome.




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