Bilberries are purple nutritious fruits that look like the tinier version of blueberries and hence, often mistaken as the latter. Although the two berries taste similar, they’re not the same.
While they taste more or less like blueberries, why choose these little ones? Bilberries contain the highest amount of a substance called anthocyanins among all other berries. And this substance is what makes bilberries extremely healthy and a must-have food in your diet. Here are 8 benefits you can obtain from bilberries.
10 Health Benefits Of Bilberry
1. Improves Eyesight
Before we go into any other health benefits, let’s talk about the one that has been doing the rounds as a legend. During world war II, the British forces were supposedly able to bomb the enemy lines with surprising accuracy in the night after eating bilberry jam!
Now, there aren’t many studies to prove the bilberry’s ability to improve night-time vision and most are infact contradictory. However, what these berries can do is fight eye-related disorders and prevent vision loss in general. Eating bilberries will help you fight myopia and slow down age- and diabetes-related vision loss. So, if not superhuman night vision, the berries will definitely give you healthy eyes!1
2. Controls Diabetes
Bilberries and their leaves have been used in traditional medicines to treat diabetes and its symptoms. It is one of the top herbal remedies to improve glycemic control, enhance insulin sensitivity, and regulate blood sugar levels.
While there is a lack of human studies, animal-based research shows that bilberries effectively treat type 2 diabetes.2
3. Reduces Bad Cholesterol
Controlling your cholesterol is a pain with all the food and restrictions. But what if you could do so with just a few berries? Eating around 100 gm of bilberries has been observed to lower both LDL and HDL cholesterol.3
However, studies observed these benefits when bilberries were taken along with other foods. So the best bet for you is to include bilberry in your daily diet and give your health that extra boost.
4. Prevents Atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a condition wherein the blood vessels and arteries harden and narrow, blocking blood flow. While bilberries prevent the oxidation of the bad cholesterol, they also strengthen blood vessels. Both of these factors are important for reducing the risk of and treating atherosclerosis.4
5. Improves Blood Circulation
Of the many ways in which bilberries keep your heart healthy, improving blood circulation is possibly one. Bilberries have had this effect especially in relation to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a condition where blood pools in the veins in the legs. So take the nutritious berries as a complementary diet food, but do not forget your medication.5
6. Treats Cancer
Among all berries, the bilberry exhibits a potent anticancer behavior as it is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Bilberry extracts, with their rich anthocyanin content, slow down the growth of malignant cells, causes cancerous cell death, and reduce the risk of cancer. It might also prevent DNA mutation, a root cause of cancer.6
7. Fights Alzheimer’s
Bilberries improve memory and reduce any kind of behavioral problems in those suffering from Alzheimer’s with the This is, yet again, because of the anthocyanins and other compounds in the berries.7
8. Stops Diarrhea
Didn’t think before eating and now you can’t stop going to the loo? What you need to do is eat right – eat bilberries. These berries have been a part of traditional medicine to treat diarrhea for ages. Both injected and orally taken fruits reduce inflammation and strengthen the digestive system to fight issues such as dysentery, gastrointestinal inflammation, and inflammatory bowel disease as well.8
9. Improves Skin Quality
The bilberry is frequently used in cosmetic products to enhance the effectiveness of products. Bilberry is a natural phytosome, that is, it increases the skin’s ability to absorb herbal extracts. It basically improves the quality of a product and how well it works for you. And with the antioxidants and its ability to fight free radicals, who wouldn’t want to check this out?9 You can find bilberry in the form of oils or toning cream.
10. Gives Luscious Hair
Of the signs of aging, hair loss and graying are probably extremely worrisome. These will not let you forget where you stand in life, but worry not! Bilberries can come to your rescue as they are believed to increase capillary circulation and prevents the collagen from breaking down. Hence, bilberries are commonly seen in many hair care products like shampoos and conditioners. Alternatively, you can also try to make bilberry tea and drink it regularly.
Making these a part of your diet can be a little tricky as they’re not so commonly grown in the US. However, you can easily find them in the form of extracts or jams. Bilberries also go by the names European blueberry, blaeberry, huckleberry, and whortleberry, so don’t get confused. Make them all a part of your diet and stay healthy!
|↑1, ↑6||Chu, Wing-kwan, Sabrina CM Cheung, Roxanna AW Lau, and Iris FF Benzie. “Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.).” Lester Packer, Ph. D. (2011): 55.|
|↑2||Takikawa, Masahito, Seiya Inoue, Fumihiko Horio, and Takanori Tsuda. “Dietary anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract ameliorates hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity via activation of AMP-activated protein kinase in diabetic mice.” The Journal of nutrition 140, no. 3 (2010): 527-533.|
|↑3||Erlund, Iris, Raika Koli, Georg Alfthan, Jukka Marniemi, Pauli Puukka, Pirjo Mustonen, Pirjo Mattila, and Antti Jula. “Favorable effects of berry consumption on platelet function, blood pressure, and HDL cholesterol.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 87, no. 2 (2008): 323-331.|
|↑4||Rouanet, Jean-Max, Kelly Décordé, Daniele Del Rio, Cyril Auger, Gina Borges, Jean-Paul Cristol, Michael EJ Lean, and Alan Crozier. “Berry juices, teas, antioxidants and the prevention of atherosclerosis in hamsters.” Food Chemistry 118, no. 2 (2010): 266-271.|
|↑5||Bilberry. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑7||Vepsäläinen, Saila, Henna Koivisto, Elina Pekkarinen, Petra Mäkinen, Gary Dobson, Gordon J. McDougall, Derek Stewart et al. “Anthocyanin-enriched bilberry and blackcurrant extracts modulate amyloid precursor protein processing and alleviate behavioral abnormalities in the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 24, no. 1 (2013): 360-370.|
|↑8||Piberger, Heidi, Anett Oehme, Claudia Hofmann, Andrea Dreiseitel, Philipp G. Sand, Florian Obermeier, Juergen Schoelmerich, Peter Schreier, Gerhard Krammer, and Gerhard Rogler. “Bilberries and their anthocyanins ameliorate experimental colitis.” Molecular nutrition & food research 55, no. 11 (2011): 1724-1729.|
|↑9||Patil, M. S., S. B. Patil, K. P. Chittam, and R. D. Wagh. “Phytosomes: novel approach in herbal medicines.” Asian J Pharm Sci Res 2 (2012): 1-9.|