Blackcurrants boost dopamine, make physical activity more enjoyable
A glass of blackcurrant juice, taken for long-term moderately intensive exercise, makes that activity less tiring. This is probably because the phenols in blackcurrants increase the dopamine concentration in the brain, researchers at the New Zealand research institute Plant & Food Research [plantandfood.co.nz] discovered.
The researchers got 40 healthy adults to walk as long as they could. The researchers set no limits, but stopped the trial after the subjects had completed the 2 hours.
An hour before the subjects started walking, half of them had drunk a placebo and the other half a glass of blackcurrant juice.
The researchers used a concentrated product from New Zealand Blackcurrants, [nzblackcurrants.com] which did not sponsor the study. The research was conducted at the expense of the New Zealand government.
The test subjects in the experimental group consumed about 5 milligrams of blackcurrant phenolic substances per kilogram of body weight. The juice they drank contained 17 milligrams of phenols per milliliter. [Table]
The subjects who had taken the blackcurrant extract walked 11 minutes longer [bottom left] and covered more kilometers [bottom right] than the subjects in the placebo group, but those differences were not statistically significant.
In the blackcurrant group, the test subjects' mood was a bit more stable than the test subjects's mood in the control group, you see at the top right. This difference was also not statistically significant. What was significant was the difference between the feeling of fatigue that the two groups reported. Fatigue increased more in the experimental group than in the other group [top left].
The figure below may how blackcurrants make exercise easier, more fun and less tired. Blackcurrants reduce the activity of the enzyme monoamine oxidase-B in the blood platelets of the test subjects [MAO-B].
MAO-B breaks down dopamine. Inhibition of MAO-B may increase the dopamine concentration in the brain.
"Findings from this preliminary study provides evidence that timed consumption of a polyphenolic-rich juice made from New Zealand blackcurrants 1 hour prior to exercise supports positive affective responses during a low impact walking exercise in healthy sedentary adults", write the researchers.
"Future clinical studies extrapolating the link between blackcurrant-derived polyphenolic compounds, monoamine neurotransmission (via inhibition of MAO-B activity) and positive affective responses will enable the determination of potential ergogenic action for self-motived exercise adherence to be established."
J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019 Aug 2;16(1):33.
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