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University lecturer to present effects of blackcurrants on athletes at international conference

Professor of Exercise Physiology Mark Willems will today showcase his findings on how New Zealand blackcurrants could be beneficial for endurance athletes at an international conference.

The event, led by the International Society of Sports Nutrition, is being held in Florida, USA, and will be attended by leading sport supplement experts. Professor Willems, who has taught at the University since 2003, said he started the research with colleagues from the Department of Sport & Exercise Sciences into New Zealand blackcurrants last year: containing high levels of anthocyanin which may boost cardiovascular function.

He added: “Much of the research undertaken on anthocyanin focuses on their effects on health, not on whether they can improve the performance of triathletes.

“Blackcurrants grown in New Zealand have particularly high levels of anthocyanin which, when taken, can widen the blood vessels and improve flow. We show for the first time the beneficial effects for endurance athletes. A new direction in sports nutrition has been initiated here in Chichester.”

As part of the early stages of the research, endurance athletes were tested to measure whether blackcurrants lower lactate accumulation in the blood and if it improves cardiovascular function and performance. The research showed lowered lactate accumulation, improved performance and cardiovascular function which could enhance recovery from exercise.

Prof Willems added: “The findings from our research will be used to teach our future students at the University.” The four abstracts of the research will be published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition this year.

To find out more about sport sciences and research at the University of Chichester visit www.chi.ac.uk/department-sport-and-exercise-sciences. Alternatively for more about the conference go to www.sportsnutritionsociety.org.

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