You read it right. Bilberry, it sure sounds a lot like Blueberry doesn’t it? Bilberry is a relative of Blueberry and most commonly it is used in jams and pies, but it also has some powerful health benefits and it has been used as medicine for centuries.
Bilberry contains naturally producing chemicals known as anthocyanosides, which are plant pigments that have powerful antioxidant properties. What is antioxidant? Antioxidants are detectives that search and get rid of free radicals in our body.
What are free radicals? The body is under constant attack from oxidative stress. Oxygen in the body splits into single atoms with unpaired electrons. Electrons like to be in pairs, so these atoms, called free radicals, scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair. This causes damage to cells, proteins and DNA. Free radicals are associated with human disease, including cancer, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and many others.
So as my 6 years old will put it, free radicals are “bad guys” and antioxidants are “good guys”.
Back to Bilberry. Bilberry also contains vitamin C, which also boosts your immune system. Bilberry contains numerous phenolic compounds, including the flavonols, quercetin and catechins, tannins, ellagitannins and phenolic acids; however, the anthocyanins found in the fruit are, by far, the largest contribution to its phytonutrient density. These phenolic compounds are antioxidants as well as iron chelators, which may help remove heavy metals in the body and used in chelation therapy. (1)
4 proven Health benefits of Bilberry:
- Helps improve eyesight (2)
- helps improve bad cholesterol (3)
- May improve the blood sugar in diabetes (4)
- Lowers the risk of Alzheimer’s disease (5)
How to buy and use Bilberry
Bilberry is classified as a class 1 herb by the American Herbal Products Association, which means it can be safely consumed. Most commonly Bilberry is found in the form of jams, preserves or juices, which can mean a lot of added sugar.
But don’t worry, you can also find it fresh, dried, as a bilberry tea (watch out for added sugar), added to shakes and as extracts. When looking for a bilberry extract, it should contain 25 percent anthocyanidin. When something is so powerful, there is no surprise that marketers will use it trying to make the products to stand out, so always read the ingredients and make sure you are getting the real thing. (6)
Bilberry is a powerful antioxidant and in today’s world with all the stress and inflammation that our bodies have to deal with, we need as much antioxidant as we can get. There are many ways to utilize this delicious fruit, as mentioned above, but as always read the ingredients and watch for unwanted additives.
Stay happy and healthy