Bilberry is used in alternative medicine for a variety of reasons. People believe that this fruit has medicinal properties, and scientists have conducted experiments to demonstrate that bilberry is effective. This article details the proven health benefits of bilberry, which include cancer prevention, cholesterol reduction, and treatment of various health conditions. The article cites the results of research to support all claims it makes about the benefits of bilberry. Bilberry is a fruit that is similar to blueberry and sometimes even confused for blueberry. However, this unique fruit offers its own nutritional benefits and can improve health in many ways. People use bilberry, which is available as a pill supplement, a powder, a frozen fruit, or a dried fruit, for several reasons, and researchers have evaluated the specific benefits of the bilberry fruit to prove its worth.
Bilberry and Cancer
Some research suggests that bilberry has powerful cancer-fighting properties. A study in a 2003 publication of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry evaluated the effects of bilberry extract against human leukemia and colon cancer cells. The study’s authors, who were associated with the Fruit Processing Research Center in Hiroshima, Japan, found that certain extracts of bilberry stopped the growth of both types of cancer cells . Bilberry could play a role in cancer treatment and prevention, based on this finding.
Bilberry in Cases of Diabetes
In addition to its cancer-fighting effects, bilberry could be beneficial for patients who have been diagnosed with type two diabetes. Researchers from the College of Bioscience and Technology at Chubu University in Japan have discovered that bilberry extract decreases blood sugar levels and improves insulin sensitivity in mice with type two diabetes. The results of the study, which were published in a 2010 edition of The Journal of Nutrition, suggest that bilberry could be useful for managing blood sugar levels; it could also provide a natural medicine for preventing and treating diabetes .
Bilberry for Inflammation
Bilberry has also proven beneficial for the treatment of inflammation. A 2012 study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research found that supplementation with bilberry reduced blood markers of inflammation among individuals with metabolic syndrome. The study’s authors, who were from the University of Eastern Finland, concluded that consuming bilberries could fight against inflammation and therefore reduce the risk of heart disease .
Cholesterol Reduction with Bilberries
Adding to its ability to help reduce heart disease risk, bilberry is also associated with decreases in cholesterol levels. In 2013, researchers from Aarhus University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark conducted a study with bilberry for publication in The Review of Diabetic Studies. These researchers fed either a control diet, a bilberry-supplemented diet, a high fiber diet, or a diet supplemented with blackcurrant to diabetic rats. Results showed that rats consuming the bilberry-enriched diet experienced significant reductions in LDL cholesterol levels when compared to those on the control diet . Bilberry supplements could, therefore, be useful for treating elevated cholesterol levels.
Bilberry and Glaucoma Treatment
Bilberry has also shown effectiveness for the treatment of glaucoma. In a 2012 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, researchers affiliated with the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul administered either a bilberry extract, a ginkgo extract, or no treatment to individuals with glaucoma. Results indicated that bilberry treatment improved visual acuity and performance on a visual field test . Bilberry appears to be useful in cases of glaucoma and seems to improve vision.
Bilberry for Bowel Health
In addition to its numerous other benefits, bilberry can be effective for treating bowel diseases such as colitis. In 2011, a study in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research evaluated the effect of dried bilberries on mice with colitis. The study’s authors, who worked for the University of Regensburg in Germany, found that bilberry lessened the severity of colitis, and antioxidant extracts from bilberry were effective for treating chronic colitis . According to this research, bilberry is useful for patients suffering from bowel diseases.
Bilberries for Retinopathy
The research suggests that bilberries can protect vision by preventing the development of retinopathy among individuals with diabetes. A 2015 study in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition analyzed the impact of bilberry extract on diabetic rats. Scientists from the Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine led the study, and they found that bilberries decreased markers that are indicative of retinopathy. They, therefore, concluded that bilberries could slow the development of retinopathy or even prevent it among individuals with diabetes .
The Antioxidant Content of Bilberries
The numerous health benefits associated with bilberry are likely due to the antioxidant content of this fruit. A 2006 study in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that a diet enriched with bilberries significantly increased antioxidant activities in the bodies of rats. The authors of this study, scientists from France, found that just one dose of bilberries caused antioxidants to appear in the blood of the rats . As the study authors explained, antioxidants are known for their health-promoting properties.
The antioxidant content of bilberries gives them powerful health-enhancing abilities. As the research indicates, bilberry supplements are useful for lowering blood sugar and cholesterol, as well as for fighting against inflammation. This amazing fruit can also treat specific conditions such as glaucoma, colitis, and retinopathy, and it might even have the ability to fight against cancer. Bilberry is useful because of its numerous health benefits, and because of its antioxidant capacity, it is recommended for general health and wellness, even among people who do not have a specific health condition requiring treatment.