It may not be as fashionable as its more exotic cousins but the humble blackcurrant is the healthiest fruit of all. Research shows that the common or garden blackcurrant is more nutritious than other fruits, from home-grown apples and strawberries to tropical mangoes and bananas.

Blackcurrants also contain the highest levels of health-boosting antioxidants - natural compounds credited with the ability to stave off a range of illnesses from heart disease to cancer. Researcher Dr Derek Stewart said his findings, which come amid a growing appetite for exotic berries, colourful juices and other superfoods, prove the British blackcurrant is the healthiest fruit of all.

Dr Stewart, who came to his conclusion after comparing the properties of 20 popular fruits, said: "The motivation for the research came from the huge publicity surrounding superfoods, coupled with lack of consumer knowledge. "We wanted to find out which fruit came out on top.

"The combined beneficial composition and impact in health-related studies mean that blackcurrants can claim to be the number one superfruit." Dr Stewart reached his conclusions by analysing the findings of dozens of research papers published by other scientists. Lack of published data on fruits which have only recently become popular, such as raisin-sized goji berries, means they could not be included in the analysis.

Fruits studied ranged from old favourites such as apples and oranges, to blueberries, pomegranates and others that have recently been feted as being especially good for health. Blackcurrants were found to be the most nutritious, followed by blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and pomegranates.

The blackcurrant also come out top in terms of anti-oxidants. Next highest levels were found in raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. Pomegranates took fifth place once more. The tests, carried out at the Scottish Crop Research Institute near Dundee, showed that blackcurrants are particularly rich in a type of anti-oxidant called anthocyanins.

Responsible for the fruit's dark colour, the compounds are said to help ward off a range of ailments including heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. The blackcurrant's health benefits have been apparent for some time, with herbalists using them since the middle-ages to treat bladder stones, liver disorders and coughs.

The currants' high vitamin C content led to them being made into a cordial which was given free to children during the Second World War. Jo Hilditch, of the British Blackcurrant Foundation, said the latest findings should give shoppers an added incentive to buy British. She said: "I have always believed in fruit, and indeed any produce, that is grown on our doorsteps to be the best for us and this research definitely confirms this.

"British blackcurrants are a nutritional powerhouse and prove that British is best in this case. "The current celebrity trends for exotic fruits has catapulted the word superfruit into the limelight but this research shows that we don't need to go to the ends of earth to find health boosting fruits."