The Cassis berry has an intriguing history. In the early 1900s, cultivation of the Cassis berry was banned in America. Though very popular back then, the Cassis berries were wrongly considered a threat to the logging industry. As a result, cultivation of these rich berries was discontinued for almost a century! In 2003, New York was the first state to right the wrongs done to this benevolent berry. The ban was lifted and other states have quickly followed suit. Because of this, Cassis berries are not as well known in the United States as they are in Europe where they enjoy tremendous popularity and status. Americans are just beginning to discover the wonders of their new berry friend.
The Cassis berry or Black Currant as it is often called is a native shrub (ribes nigrum) of Northern Europe and Northern Asia. The berries have a sweet, astringent flavor, similar to that of black grapes. The berries grow in clusters and have a thin skin. Underneath the skin is a gelatinous, nutrient-dense green pulp.
With a deep purple outer-coloring, the Cassis berry doesn’t appear to offer much more than the Acai or Maqui berry. But don’t let looks fool you. Underneath its ordinary appearance lies an incredible array of nutrients ranging from a wide assortment of B vitamins, Vitamin C, and essential minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium and zinc. It’s also got a substantial amount of fiber, amino acids and essential fatty acids called gamma linolenic acid. Just 100 grams of the Cassis berry offers 300 percent of the daily RDA of Vitamin C in our diet! In fact, Cassis berries were used as a substitute for oranges in World War II, with a Vitamin C potency four times that of oranges! Rich in anthocyanins and twice the antioxidant power of blueberries, the Cassis berry is all set to compete for the next superfruit crown.
How different is the Cassis berry from the Acai and Maqui?
Taste. The Cassis definitely fares best in taste.
Nutrition. All three pack a pretty mean punch of essential vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fiber (100 gms of Cassis berry can provide 30 percent of the RDA of dietary fiber). The Cassis and Acai, however, contain essential fatty acids which make them good for heart health as well.
Antioxidant potency. The Maqui still reigns, but the antioxidant potencies of both the Cassis and the Acai are not to be overlooked, considering they are still higher than many other superfruits.
Scientific research. The Cassis Berry has been around in Europe and Asia and so extensive research is available. Preliminary data shows that the Cassis Berry is good for bone health with an ideal calcium and magnesium ratio of 2:1. Specific anthocyanins in the Cassis berry show positive influence on heart health and eye health. It also exhibits anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. The uniqueness of this berry is its benefit to brain health. Anthocyanins in the Cassis berry are believed to act as neuro-protective agents. Traditionally, the Cassis berry is known to be a detoxifier. It cleanses the tissues of oxidative stress and also stimulates liver functions. It is also known to relieve menopausal symptoms and improve venous circulation. Even the leaves of the Cassis berry have medicinal properties and are used in herbal tea preparations.
Datamonitor notes the rise in new products containing the Cassis berry in recent years ever since the ban on its cultivation was lifted. This demand is linked to consumer hype for antioxidant-rich superfruits. Having been hidden from our eyes for 100 years though, Americans know very little about the Cassis berry. More public awareness campaigns and promotional literature detailing the rich health benefits of the Cassis berry could help in driving the Cassis berry to greater heights of glory.
The Cassis berry market has an extremely high potential for growth. It can be used as an individual supplement or combined with other ingredients. The end-product can be manufactured as capsules, tablets, powders or liquids. This leaves open opportunity for cassis berry manufacturers to cash in on yet another great superfruit!