Bilberry helps eye health – and more
DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO BILBERRY AT A GLANCE
There is scientific evidence that bilberries and bilberry extract have health benefits beyond just the best-known effect on eye health.
♦ BILBERRY improves circulation and helps lower LDL cholesterol
♦ BILBERRY helps contribute to vision health
♦ BILBERRY may ‘significantly’ slow the accumulation of two beta amyloid peptides that are the ‘hallmark’ of Alzeimer’s
The health benefits of bilberries, according to Diabetes.co.uk, include improved blood vessel integrity and circulation, lowered blood glucose levels, a protection against cell damage and possibly improved vision health via retinal protection – especially in cases of diabetes.
Bilberries are in the same plant family as blueberries, with the former found wild in Europe, while the latter are cultivated in North America. Their health benefits are due to their high content of the bio-actives called anthocyanins or anthocyanidins. These are powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoids and help counteract the damaging effect of excess free radicals.
The National Centre for Biotechnology Information has a whole chapter on bilberry and states that:
“Bilberry is of potential value in the treatment or prevention of conditions associated with inflammation, dyslipidemia (high blood fat levels), hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) or increased oxidative stress, cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, diabetes, dementia and other age-related diseases”.
The same chapter also identified the ability of bilberries and bilberry extract to positively affect DNA repair and gene expression. So they should be considered as part of an anti-cancer nutritional regime, which would also include carotenoids like lycopene and lutein, vitamins D3, folic acid and K2, Omega 3, soy isoflavones, green tea extract and the minerals selenium and boron.
1. Bilberry for vision health
Although the research is not conclusive, there is enough evidence to consider bilberry in cases of retinal damage to the eye and – in combination with lutein, zinc and omega 3 – in cases of macular degeneration and cataracts. It may help low light vision.
2. Bilberry for improved circulation and heart health
The endothelium is the lining inside the heart and in the almost 60,000 miles of blood vessels, veins and arteries throughout the body. It must withstand the pressure of the constant expansion and contraction as the heat beats.
A study in The American Association of Clinical Chemistry showed that Bilberry extract has been found to significantly improve endothelial health and blood flow in humans – accompanied by beneficial reduced blood fat levels and inflammation.
A further animal study in Review of Diabetic Studies showed that bilberry reduces LDL cholesterol (the ‘bad’ kind) and overall cholesterol.
3. Bilberry protects the brain
A 2013 report in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry indicates that bilberry extract is able to ‘significantly decrease’ the accumulation of two beta amyloid peptides – which are one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Supplement with bilberry
There is solid evidence for including bilberries and blueberries in your diet and bilberry extract in a supplement that is designed for all-round health defence.
There are 10mg of Bilberry extract (providing 2.5mg of anthocyanidins) in every daypack of NutriShield Essentials and NutriShield Premium, supplements designed by Dr Paul Clayton, former Chair of the Forum on Food and Health at the Royal Society of Medicine.
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Dr Paul Clayton designed NutriShield as a comprehensive health supplement with OPTIMUM levels of essential nutrients including polyphenols and flavonoids from fruits, vegetables and other plants, including bilberry extract. See more detail elsewhere on this site or click on the button.
Dr Paul Clayton’s best-selling book Health Defence is available from bookstores or from Uni-Vite Healthcare here.
A free summary report and the opportunity to read the book online is available here.
See online here for delicious recipes from the Health Defence Cookbook incorporating healthy foods featuring in a Mediterranean Diet.
Anthocyanosides of Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry) for night vision–a systematic review of placebo-controlled trials. Canter PH, Ernst E; Surv Ophthalmol. 2004 Jan-Feb;49(1):38-50.
Comparative study of anthocyanin composition, antimicrobial and antioxidant activity in bilberry ( Vaccinium myrtillus L.) and blueberry ( Vaccinium corymbosum L.) fruits. Burdulis D, Sarkinas A, Jasutienè I, Stackivicenè E, Nikolajevas L. Acta Pol Pharm. 2009; 66: 399–408.
Polyphenol-rich bilberry ameliorates total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol when implemented in the diet of Zucker diabetic fatty rats. Brader L, Overgaard A, Christensen LP, Jeppesen PB, Hermansen K. Rev Diabet Stud. 2013 Winter;10(4):270-82. doi: 10.1900/RDS.2013.10.270.
Berry phytochemicals, genomic stability and cancer: Evidence for chemoprevention at several stages in the carcinogenic processes. Duthie S; Mol Nutr Food Res. 2007;52:386–7.
Anthocyanins and anthocyanin-rich extracts: Role in diabetes and eye function. Ghosh D, Konishi T. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2007;16:200–8
Anthocyanin-enriched bilberry and blackcurrant extracts modulate amyloid precursor protein processing and alleviate behavioral abnormalities in the APP/PS1 mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease. Vepsäläinen S; J Nutr Biochem. 2013 Jan;24(1):360-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.07.006.