Bilberries are small, edible berries found in Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Finland, and other northern and central European countries. Bilberries are dark purple or black in color and are closely related to blueberries, cranberries and huckleberries. Like most other berries, bilberries are full of antioxidants and essential vitamins. Bilberries are difficult to grow but are commonly collected from the wilderness and other publicly accessible lands when they become ripe in the late summer.
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Bilberries taste much like blueberries and are popularly eaten raw, baked into pies and buns, used to make jams, or mixed into yogurt.
Are Bilberries Good For You?
Both the bilberry fruit and its leaves have been used in traditional medicine. Unfortunately, not many well controlled clinical studies have been performed specifically on the bilberry. Bilberries are high in vitamin C, an important antioxidant, and contain chemicals such as anthocyanosides and tannins which do have known positive health effects. Most of the suggested potential health benefits of bilberry come from research on similar antioxidants and animal studies.
What Are Bilberries Good For?
Bilberry leaves have been traditionally used to help control blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. However, due to the lack of supporting research it is not recommended in the treatment of diabetes at this time.
Additional proposed health benefits of bilberry are improved blood circulation and reduced risk of blood clots. It has been traditionally used in Europe for a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency, a condition in which the veins in the legs have a difficult time carrying blood back to the heart. Few studies have shown its benefit for improving symptoms in this condition, therefore further research is needed.
What Are Anthocyanosides?
Anthocyanosides are also important for the production of eye pigments, and as such, bilberries have long been believed to improve night vision. Bilberry is also thought to help with cataracts and other eye disorders, as many eye disorders can be caused by circulatory problems. Presently, there is limited evidence to support these benefits.
Bilberries For Inflammation
Another traditional use of bilberries has been as a remedy for diarrhea. Though research has not been conducted in this area, it is believed by some that the chemicals in bilberry known as tannins act as an anti-inflammatory and may help to reduce swelling in the intestines. Because of the potential anti-inflammatory properties of tannins, bilberries have also been recommended by some practitioners to relieve pain and inflammation that may occur in other areas of the body including the mouth and throat.
Although definitive claims about the health effects of the bilberry require further study, bilberries do contain vital nutrients for the body such as antioxidants. You can search drugstore.com to find the bilberry supplement that you may think works best for you. It is recommended to consult with your physician first before incorporating any supplements or herbs into your diet. Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, herbal and dietary supplements should be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health professional. You should read product labels and discuss all therapies with a qualified healthcare provider before adding bilberry into your diet.