By Vaios T. Karathanos, Ph.D., Professor of School of Nutrition & Dietetics, Harokopion University of Athens
Currants (black Corinthian raisins) are a unique dried vine product that is produced mainly in southern Greece and in smaller quantities in California, South Africa and Australia. Especially in the region around the town of Aeghion is produced the world-known Vostizza currants, a PDO product (Product of Designated Origin). The cultivation of currants in the Greek South is referred in Homer’s Odyssey almost three thousand years ago and by philosopher Aristotle. The currants are produced mostly in high-altitude, mountainous area and are sun-dried without addition of any additive, such as accelerating drying agent or infused sugars. The product, which is fully traceable to the farmer, is then washed by potable water and cleaned in modern food factories. The area of Aeghion has made in recent years several new developments in agriculture, such as the first implication of certified organic agriculture in Greece more than three decades ago. Also the main Agricultural Cooperative of the area has assisted researchers from Greek and several European Universities to participate in collaborative research projects, such as the food quality and safety and nutritional value of the product.
Looking back at the relevant bibliography as regards currants (black corinthian raisins), we can discover important findings from laboratory studies (in vitro) about their nutritional content as:
The effect of daily consumption of currants on cholesterol values:
Daily consumption of currants improves the lipid profile of individuals by reducing an early form of LDL cholesterol as recorded after administration to patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. In particular, there was a decrease of 8 units per liter of blood (U/l) oxidized form of “bad” LDL cholesterol that is a highly atherogenic form of LDL.
The daily consumption of 36 grams of currants -a portion corresponding to one serving – by the patients with type 2 diabetes who are known to have an increased risk of vascular damage, results in a significant reduction in diastolic blood pressure of 5.5 millimeters of the mercury column (mmHg).
“This reduction is better than that achieved with many drugs,” as Professor of Internal Medicine at the Medical School of the University of Athens, Mr. Nikolaos Tentolouris notes.
For those who smoke they would try to quit it immediately! For those who can not, an option to reduce the negative effects of smoking could be the currants (black corinthian raisins) consumption. Modern clinical studies demonstrate that the inclusion of currants in the daily diet, cause a positive effect on the health of smokers!