One of the most significant wild berries in Northern Europe is the European blueberry (EB), also known as the bilberry. Due to their striking resemblance to blueberries from the United States, they are frequently referred to as European blueberries .
The flesh color of the two berries when in season is one of the most obvious differences between them. Bilberries have a red or purple color inside their dark blue skins, unlike blueberries, which have a greenish color. Additionally, bilberries taste more acidic than blueberries .
Nowadays, bilberries are associated with different health benefits. Learn more about bilberry and its health benefits in this article.
What is Bilberry Good For?
Bilberries have been used for medicinal purposes ranging from eye conditions to diabetes due to high antioxidants known as anthocyanins and polyphenols .
Bilberries are good for reducing inflammation and conditions like inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, gingivitis, and age-related cognitive decline associated with oxidative stress .
According to some studies, bilberry anthocyanins can stabilize collagen-containing tissues like cartilage, tendons, and ligaments. Bilberry is sometimes taken orally for hemorrhoids and varicose veins because of its potential to strengthen the blood vessel walls .
Benefits for Eyes
Bilberries are said to be a good compound that can protect against glaucoma, cataracts, and eye fatigue aside from enhancing eye health. In a clinical trial with over 300 glaucoma patients, bilberry anthocyanins extract enhanced vision. In four trials with more than 350 healthy individuals, two comparable extracts (standardized to 36% anthocyanins) improved blood-retinal flow and decreased eye pressure. These studies imply that bilberry may indeed help glaucoma patients and prevent it [6 7 8 9 10].
More jobs now involve spending the entire day staring at a computer screen, and the downtime is frequently spent on a phone. Eye strain and dry eyes are two conditions linked to this. Reduced tear production impairs vision in both cases. On more than 100 patients with these conditions, standardized bilberry extracts increased tear production in 3 clinical trials [11 12 13].
In a clinical trial involving 30 nearsighted adults, bilberry extract also enhanced focus adjustment and night vision. In a clinical trial with 32 kids and a study on Guinea pigs, a medication with bilberry anthocyanins (Difrarel) slowed the progression of this condition [14 15 16].
However, take note that the FDA has not approved bilberries for any eye health conditions. You may try this fruit if you and your doctor decide it is appropriate for improving your eye health. Remember that taking bilberries is never a substitute for seeking medical advice or following a prescription.
Bilberry Benefits for Weight Loss
According to some studies, bilberries’ anti-inflammatory properties may help people lose weight. Therefore, bilberry benefits for weight loss may include reducing insulin resistance and metabolism .
Bilberries are rich in anthocyanin, which positively affects body weight, especially in cases of obesity and overeating. Consequently, one of the main bilberry benefits for weight loss is the high anthocyanin content. However, more research in this area is needed. A study with 124,000 participants found that women and men between the ages of 27 and 65 could lose weight by consuming more anthocyanins. Additionally, this might aid people in losing weight and improving their health.
Another study found that anthocyanins can help people lose weight by suppressing their appetite. Therefore, regularly consuming bilberries may increase your feeling of fullness and could lower your risk of overeating .
Eating foods high in flavonoids, flavan-3-ols, anthocyanins, and flavonoid polymers caused another four-year research participants to lose 10-32 pounds on average throughout the study .
Other Health Benefits of Bilberry
Bilberries have various health benefits, just like other varieties of berries. Several plant substances found in bilberries might reduce cancer risk, lower blood pressure, prevent diabetes, and fight inflammation. Here are some health benefits of bilberry for certain conditions.
Lowers the Risk of Diabetes
People with diabetes can benefit from bilberry and bilberry extract in lowering blood sugar levels. The berries may also help people with metabolic syndrome increase insulin secretion .
Helps in Lowering Inflammation
Bilberries have antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in the body. This reduces your risk of developing inflammatory illnesses like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease .
Treats Digestive Health Issues
Bilberry can help with digestive issues. Berries contain antioxidants, tannins, and pectin, reducing inflammation in the digestive system. Reducing inflammation can help with diarrhea, nausea, and indigestion .
Bilberry Side Effects and Intake
Bilberry fruits and extracts are generally regarded as safe and have no known negative effects. However, bilberry leaf and extract shouldn’t be consumed in large doses for an extended time because of their tannins. It may result in fatal complications like severe weight loss, death, and muscle spasms. Taking bilberry may alter how other remedies, medicines, and even vitamins work, and combining these products may result in negative side effects. Pregnant women or nursing shouldn’t use bilberry extracts unless under the guidance of an experienced herbalist .
Finding the most effective dose is tricky because there aren’t many studies on it, and dosages vary widely. However, most human studies have used quantities ranging from 500 mg of bilberry supplements to 50 grams of fresh bilberries.
Small European blueberries, known as bilberries, are full of healthy compounds and nutrients. They are associated with decreased inflammatory response and blood sugar levels, including better vision and cardiovascular health. They could also lessen ulcerative colitis symptoms, fight off bacteria, and enhance brain function. Bilberries, like most berries, are a good addition to your diet. However, keep in mind that bilberry, like any other food, needs to consume in moderation to reap its benefits.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.