Benefits And Nutrition Of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) For Health

Benefits And Nutrition Of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) For Health


Bilberries (Wild Blueberries)


Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) is known as other names: Whinberry, Winberry, Windberry, Airelle, ArĂ¡ndano, Bilberry Fruit, Bilberry Leaf, Black Whortles, Bleaberry, Brimbelle, Burren Myrtle, Dwarf Bilberry, Dyeberry, European Bilberry, Feuille de Myrtille, Fruit de Myrtille, Gueule Noire, Huckleberry, Hurtleberry, Mauret, Myrtille,...

Bilberry is a delicious fruit, indigenous to North America and known to grow abundantly in the high mountainous regions of Europe. This delectable fruit has been part of the human dietary system for centuries. Bilberries are popularly known as huckleberries in the United States and have much in common with the well known European variety of berries, such as blueberry and cranberry. This fruit grows on small deciduous bushes, that have ovate leaves, and produces bulbous rosy bell-shaped blooms, during the spring season. The fruit is globular, with a flat top, about the size of a black currant. When eaten raw, they have a slightly acid flavour. When cooked, however, with sugar, they make an excellent preserve. On the Continent, they are often employed for colouring wine.

Benefits And Nutrition Of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) For Health
Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) Picture

Today, bilberry is cultivated in Northern Asia, Europe and North America and is becoming quite popular as a delicious ingredient in preserves, pies and jams as well as for its ability to treat a range of health conditions.

Bilberries have many excellent medicinal properties that are useful in treating a number of medical conditions. Health benefits of bilberry include relief from digestive problems and ulcers. Since many decades, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of bilberry have been prized for their effectiveness in a range of disorders including diabetes, cancer and liver and kidney damage. Multi nutrient-rich bilberry is valuable in maintaining cardiovascular health, healthy and disease-free eyes, unobstructed blood flow and better functioning of overall body.To know more about their nutritional facts and benefits, go through the sections below.


History of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries)


Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) has been very popular among European, as well as, Native American population, since historic times. However, written concrete proof of its use as a herbal medicine to induce menstruation was found in the Hildegard of Bingen’s recommendation in the 12th century. By 16th century, records show that the bilberries were being prescribed by various German herbalists for an array of ailments, such as bladder stones, liver disorders, and lung diseases. By the dawn of 18th century, many more medicinal uses of this fruit were discovered and about 200 years down the line, bilberries came to be used in teas and tonics, apart from regular desserts. During World War II, the benefecial effects of this fruit on human eyes was discovered by the British Royal Air Force pilots. They noticed that whenever they ate bilberries before a night flying mission, their vision improved tremendously.

Nutritional Value of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries)


Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) contains a range of vital nutrients including vitamins such as Vitamin A, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) and vitamin K (phylloquinone). Mineral treasure present in bilberry comprises of copper, chromium, manganese, zinc and iron.  Bilberry is a rich provider of alkaloids, carbonic acids and a number of phenolic components such as quercitin, anthocyanins, tannins, pectin and catechins.

Benefits And Nutrition Of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) For Health
Bilberries (Wild Blueberries)

Benefits Of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) For Health


Antioxidant defense


Antioxidant power of bilberry makes it a valuable multipurpose remedy. The fruit of bilberry plant consists of chemical components, anthocyanosides. These useful water soluble chemicals possess radical scavenging qualities which seek out for oxygen free radicals produced during energy metabolism and neutralize their effects. Such protective action prevents the occurrence of many problems caused as a consequence of oxidative stress.

Protection against eye disorders


Bilberry is useful for the maintenance of eye health. Apart from the traditional usage, scientific studies have also advocated the effectiveness of bilberry extract in preventing age-related ocular disorders along with other eye diseases such as cataract and night-blindness. Powerful radical scavengers present in bilberry helps enhance the vision and may be useful for the restoration and homeostasis of corneal limbal epithelial cells. Another research conducted on bilberry has also suggested its beneficial enzyme stimulating activity which protects the eyes from endotoxin-induced uvenitis. Bilberry extracts stimulates the production of rhodopsin pigment which supports the eye to adapt to light changes.

Diabetes


Effectiveness of bilberry for preventing and curing diabetes has been appreciated since the earlier times and has also been advocated by the recent scientific findings. Bilberry assists in regulating the blood sugar levels in the body attributing to the rich concentration of anthocyanins. Studies conducted on bilberry suggest that dietary bilberry extract helps in improving the condition of hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity in the people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Protection against liver damage


Bilberry exerts protective effect against restraint stress stimulated liver damage attributing to the richness of antioxidants. Scientific research has shown the inhibitory and radical scavenging activity of bilberry extracts which enhances the level of beneficial glutathione and vitamin C in the body and reduces the concentration of nitric oxide in the liver tissues.

Cardio-protective effects


Bilberry is effective in maintaining cardiovascular health which is one of the major causes of death all around the world. This heart protective effect attributes to the potential of anthocyanins present in bilberry which helps in improving the LDL and HDL cholesterol levels in the body. Research studies have also validated the positive effects of bilberry fruit on the blood pressure and vascular health leading to the inhibition of platelet aggregation and smooth muscle contraction. Another study has suggested the anti-ischemic and anti-arrhythmic activity of bilberry on the heart which helps stimulate the coronary flow and is instrumental in preventing multiple cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis.

Benefits And Nutrition Of Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) For Health
Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) Picture

Prevention of cancer


Bilberry extracts have been found to be effective against the development of various cancers including colon cancer, breast cancer and leukemia. A comparative study conducted on different berries has rendered bilberry to be the most potent in inhibition of cancerous cells. This owes to the presence of phenolic components delphinidin and glycosides in bilberry which prevent the proliferation of malignant cells and induces apoptosis.

Protection against kidney failure


Another amazing beneficial effect of bilberry is its defense against kidney damage. Scientific research has shown that bilberry extracts help in the normalizing multiple critical factors including levels of creatinine, serum blood urea nitrogen and nitric oxide.  This inhibitory action again attributes to the antioxidant profile of bilberry which enhances the oxygen radical absorbance capacity in the kidney tissues and protects it from the oxidative damage.

Anti-microbial effects


As stated, bilberry contains phenolic components which have also been found to exert anti-microbial activity. This inhibitory action of bilberry works against various human pathogens including Salmonella, H.pylori, Bacillus, clostridium and Staphylococcus aureus and prevents the development of associated diseases. Recent scientific findings also suggest the potential of bilberry extract in fighting antibiotic-resistant organisms.

Digestive health


Bilberry has been used in European medicine for nearly one thousand years, primarily to treat diarrhea. indigestion and nausea. This attributes to the astringent action of tannins and pectin present in bilberry which exerts therapeutic effect on the stomach inflammations and also heals inflammation caused in the mucous membranes of throat and mouth when applied topically.

Bilberries (Wild Blueberries) Side Effects


Toxicity


Bilberry extract does not have any known negative effects, based on the University of Michigan Health System, when consumed in safe quantities. Nevertheless, taking an excessive amount of the extract for a very long interval of time could be hazardous, warns the University of Maryland Clinic. The tannins in bilberry might bring about weight reduction, muscle spasms, and also maybe even loss of life.

Anti-coagulant Effect


Theoretically, the anthocyanosides in supplements from bilberry may change how fast blood clots. The UMMC states that you ought to discuss things with your physician before using bilberry supplements together with blood thinning drugs like warfarin or aspirin. It might also raise your own risk of bleeding in the event that you have hemophilia or perhaps a similar clotting disorder, warns the Memorial SloanKettering Cancer Center.

Lowered Blood Sugar Levels


Extract from the bilberry plant can reduce blood glucose levels, based on MedlinePlus. People vulnerable to hypoglycemia ought to be careful about making use of bilberry extract. Also, diabetic patients that are taking drugs, for example metformin or insulin, to manage blood sugar, or that are taking herbs for this particular purpose, must track their blood sugar levels a lot more closely when working with bilberry extract.