What is Bilberry ?
Bilberry plant is a close relative of blueberries and is amongst the numerous species in the Ericaceae family. These are delicious berries which are native to Northern Europe and have been valued for their therapeutic effectiveness in the conventional system of European medicine since many centuries. Today, they are cultivated in Northern Asia, Europe and North America and are becoming quite popular as a delicious ingredient in preserves, pies and jams as well as for their ability to treat a range of health conditions.
Bilberry is a spreading, low-growing, deciduous shrub with slender branches having tiny pinkish blossoms and bright green, oval and pointed leaves. The plant yields dark purple berries harvested during summer time and can be used fresh or in dried form.
Has Antioxidant Power
Antioxidant power of bilberry makes it a valuable multipurpose remedy. The fruit of bilberry plant consists of chemical components called 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.
Effectiveness of bilberry for preventing and curing diabetes has been appreciated since early times and has also been advocated by recent scientific findings. It assists in regulating the blood sugar levels in the body, attributing to the rich concentration of anthocyanins. Studies conducted on it suggest that dietary bilberry extract helps in improving the condition of hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity in the people suffering from type 2 diabetes.
Maintains Liver Health
Bilberry exerts protective effect against restraint stress stimulated liver damage owing to the presence 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.
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.
Maintains Eye Health
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 it 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. Its extracts stimulates the production of rhodopsin pigment which supports the eye to adapt to light changes.
Prevents Kidney Failure
Another amazing beneficial effect of bilberry is its defense against kidney damage. Scientific research has shown that its extracts help in normalizing multiple critical factors including levels of creatinine, serum blood urea nitrogen and nitric oxide. This inhibitory action is again due to the antioxidant profile of bilberry, which enhances the oxygen radical absorbance capacity in the kidney tissues and protects it from oxidative damage.
Bilberry is effective in maintaining cardiovascular health which is one of the major causes of death all around the world. This heart protective effect is attributed 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 its 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.
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 its extract in fighting antibiotic-resistant organisms.
Among the berries, bilberry is considered as an important and prized botanical owing to its multiple beneficial properties. It helps to strengthen capillaries, stimulates circulation and prevents disorders like varicose veins and hemorrhoids. Bilberry extract is also effective against stomach ulcers, encourages the production of helpful stomach juices and assists in soothing menstrual cramps. Anti-inflammatory properties of bilberry assist in curing conditions like thrombosis and angina. It supports and toughens the collagen structures, stalls bacterial growth and assists in detoxification of the body. It is also recommended by doctors prior to surgeries in order to reduce the associated bleeding later. Inclusion of such multitalented bilberries can deliciously boost the nutritional quotient of your diet and keep you healthy.
Reference : https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/bilberry.html