Sunny climes of top of the south create super blackcurrants

Glenn Vile, left, with budding cyclist Andrew Bidwell, who tried the Black Max drink.

Glenn Vile, left, with budding cyclist Andrew Bidwell, who tried the Black Max drink.

The sunny climate of the top of the south is creating super blackcurrants.

Scientists say the region's high levels of ultra violet from the sun give the blackcurrants high levels of anthocyanin, which can help the human body recover after exercise.

Marlborough businessman Glenn Vile was looking at the blackcurrants for athletes, with tests already carried out on young Marlborough cyclists.


Blackcurrant harvesting in Nelson.

Blackcurrant harvesting in Nelson.

"They have very special biochemicals called anthocyanins, they're the purple things which protect the blackcurrant from the UV but we know when we eat them, they allow our body to do those specific things for recovery," Vile said.

A study by the University of Chichester in 2015 used New Zealand blackcurrant extract on 13 endurance cyclists over seven days.  The study found cyclists who used the extract to be 2.4 per cent faster than the cyclists who used a placebo. This was due to the recovery element of the anthocyanin in the blackcurrants.

Vile said the research was the driving force behind his work.  Vile was also the man behind a weight-loss pill made from discarded grape skins in 2014.  "I've been keeping an eye on that research for a while and now that it says it works that's when I thought, 'right we should do something about it'," Vile said. 

Following the research, Vile created a sports drink named Black Max and tested it on a young up and coming Marlborough cycle team.  Team member Jake Marryatt won the under-23 title in the 2017 edition of the Calder Stewart Elite Cycling Series. 

"When we had a get together I was joking that my goal was to have one of the guys on the podium for one of the races, and Jake managed to win the whole thing, which was surprising," Vile said.

Another member of the team, 16-year-old Andrew Bidwell, believed the blackcurrants had helped his performance.  He had only been competing in elite cycling for two years, and had not taken anything to help recovery before.  "You don't have to take a load of stuff, you can just take the one product because it hydrates as well as helps recover," Bidwell said.  "If you don't take any sports drink during a race you would have no energy at the end of the 160-kilometre race. I still had energy so it clearly must be working."

Source: Stuff

Glenn Vile