Bilberry is closely related to the blueberry fruit and is found throughout Northern Europe. These berries have been used for medicinal remedies for centuries. This berry is now being cultivated nearly worldwide and is being used more often for jams, preserves, and of course, its medicinal benefits.
Below you’ll learn about the various benefits that bilberry can offer.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
Like many other berries, bilberry is rich in antioxidants which help eliminate free radicals inside the body and protect against cancer and premature aging of cells. Studies have even connected bilberry consumption to a reduction in a breast and colon cancers. Among all the berries rich in antioxidants, bilberries are believed to be the most effective in inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.
2. Diabetes Aid
Bilberry has long been used to help regulate blood sugar levels, and recent research is now supporting these age-old claims. Studies have shown that bilberry extract can help improve hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity in those that suffer from type-2 diabetes.
3. Liver Protection
Because bilberry is rich in antioxidants, it also helps eliminate toxins from the body and reduces the heavy workload for the liver. Bilberry extract also helps increase the amount of vitamin C and glutathione in the body, which helps to reduce the concentration of nitric oxide in the liver tissue, which helps preserve the health of this organ.
4. Eye Health
Studies have shown that the consumption of bilberry extract can help prevent common age-related eye issues, such as cataracts.
5. Kidney Support
Bilberry helps to regulate the levels of creatine, nitric oxide, and serum blood urea nitrogen. By regulating these factors, bilberry enhances the function of the kidneys and protects them from oxidative damage.
6. Heart Health
Research has shown that bilberry can help regulate cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and overall vascular health. Thus, consuming bilberry extract can protect your heart and prevent the occurrence of heart disease.
7. Digestive Health
Bilberry has long been used for, and is shown to be effective in, the treatment of digestive issues, such as diarrhea, nausea, and indigestion. Bilberry extract can also be effective in reducing inflammation in the stomach.
How to Use Bilberry
Bilberries may be eaten fresh or dried, and they can be used to make a tea, with fresh or dried berries as well. A bilberry extract should be standardized to contain 25% anthocyanidin. This extract contains the highest percentage of anthocyanosides, proving to be the strongest form of bilberry.
To make a tea from bilberry leaf, pour boiling water over 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried leaves. Steep this for 10 to 15 minutes and then strain.
While bilberry does provide a wide variety of health benefits, there are some words of caution that should be adhered to before stocking up on bilberry extract. Because it can lower cholesterol and blood pressure, bilberry extract should not be utilized by individuals taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet drugs.
Bilberry extract should be used in small doses when taking for the first time to measure your body’s reaction (possible allergy or sensitivity). And of course, as with anything, too much bilberry extract is a bad thing: do not consume bilberries or bilberry extract in excess.
Aside from these minor warnings, bilberry can be utilized by the average individual to address the health benefits mentioned above, and likely even more. You may be able to find the berries in your health-food store, but it is most likely that you will have to opt for bilberry extract, in a juice or supplement form.
No matter which way you consume it, bilberry offers a wide variety of health benefits and can be utilized in the same way as your other favorite berries.