Bilberry Fruit: The Forgotten Berry – Invite Health Podcast, Episode 145
Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH
We have all heard about the importance of getting adequate fruits and vegetables, but there are certain berries that can really provide a significant amount of health support. One berry in particular that is oftentimes overlooked is the bilberry. The European bilberry is incredibly impressive when it comes to optimizing human health. Today, let’s talk about the research behind the bilberry.
Research on Bilberry Extract
Bilberry extract has been utilized both medicinally and in foods for thousands of years. You can find bilberry very commonly throughout Europe in different jams and pies. But when you look at the medicinal benefits, this is where this fruit is really quite interesting. This berry is a powerful antioxidant that contains phenolic and proanthocyanidin compounds.
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According to the University of Maryland Complimentary and Alternative Medicine, researchers have recognized that bilberry can help when it comes to chronic venous insufficiency. This is the improper functioning of the vein valves in the leg, causing swelling and skin changes. It is similar to an elevator that gets stuck; as blood comes out of the heart and pools down to the legs, gravity can usually push the blood in the correct direction and out to the extremities. If these values do not have the ability to flap properly, then you can end up with fluid retention. This is why people have swelling around the lower leg or in the ankle. European researchers actually concluded that bilberry extract can be extremely helpful for this. This is because its powerful proanthocyanidins can actually help to strengthen blood vessels, improve circulation and help the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol).†
Bilberries have also been studied for their benefit for diabetes. Diabetes have a hard time with proper blood glucose control. These powerful proanthocyanidins once again can help the body to have a better glucose response. An individual with diabetes will need a lifestyle modification, including their diet and exercise. This is also true for someone who has metabolic syndrome.
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This fruit extract has also been studied when it comes to vision. During World War II, British fighter pilots have reported improvements in nighttime vision after having bilberry jam. Bilberry has been studied for its benefit in macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts. Most recent, there was an interesting study that was published in the journal of Nutrition Health Aging looking at how bilberry extract supplementation could be beneficial for eye fatigue in video display terminal workers. Researchers found – in this double-blind, placebo controlled trial – that bilberry extract helped with eye fatigue in these participants.
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