10 Emerging Health Benefits of Bilberries

Medically Reviewed on 8/16/2022
10 health benefits of bilberries
Bilberries are generally considered safe for consumption when eaten in moderation.

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a small, round, flat-topped fruit that grows in the wild. They grow on short, wiry bushes, primarily on high land in northern and west Europe.

Blueberries are, sometimes, mistaken for blueberries due to their tiny size and blue hue. However, they taste very different from blueberries.

What are the suitable ways to incorporate bilberries in your diet?

Suitable ways to incorporate bilberries into your diet include:

  • Bilberry tastes somewhat acidic when eaten fresh. 
  • However, when boiled with sugar, it gives a delightful, deep flavor that may be used to make jam or pie filling.
  • Juice is released from the berries when they are cooked. If you do not want a soggy bottom crust, drain them before putting them in a pie.
  • Bilberry pie is a traditional British delicacy popular in the North of England, notably in Yorkshire. 
  • It is best served warm with rich cream or vanilla ice cream. 
  • Bilberries may be substituted for blueberries in any dish that calls for cooked blueberries. They are delicious in muffins, crumbles, tarts, and cheesecakes.
  • Remember that raw bilberries have a more sour flavor than blueberries, so substituting them in a dish will result in a markedly different taste.

10 health benefits of bilberries

Here are 10 health benefits of bilberries:

  1. Improve heart health: According to the National Institutes of Health in the United States, there is evidence that bilberry extract may help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Animal studies report that anthocyanosides may inhibit low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol oxidation, which contributes to atherosclerosis and heart disease. Studies have reported that bilberries and anthocyanins lowered blood triglycerides, and total and LDL cholesterol levels while boosting high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Although the available data are limited, bilberries can help reduce blood cholesterol. If you have high cholesterol, you should talk to your doctor about the possible advantages of adding them to your diet. Anthocyanosides are also known to aid with circulation and lower the risk of blood clot formation.
  2. Lower blood sugar levels: Although bilberry extract is not approved as a medication for diabetes, people who have the condition may discover that it helps reduce blood glucose levels. If you use a blood glucose-lowering medicine that might cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), you may need to monitor your blood glucose levels and take steps to ensure that your blood sugar levels do not go too low.
  3. Antioxidant properties: Supplements of bilberries may be one of the greatest natural sources of anthocyanins and polyphenols due to their well-known antioxidant effects. Bilberries contain more than 15 distinct anthocyanosides. This supplement's components have assisted with age-related oxidative stress and support healthy eyesight.
  4. Reduce blood pressure: Bilberry can aid with the reduction of blood pressure. Studies suggested that there was a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure in people who took bilberries supplement. This is an excellent supplement for supporting healthy circulation, as well as the vascular system, veins, and arteries.
  5. Improve eye health: Bilberry contains anthocyanins, which are flavonoids. These contain potent antioxidant effects that are beneficial to eye health. Bilberry was proven to have a favorable effect on eyesight in low-light situations in a randomized controlled experiment. This has also been proposed as a therapy for retinopathy, a condition that damages the retina. In addition, 30 healthy middle-aged volunteers with myopia (nearsightedness) consumed 400 mg/day of fermented bilberry extract in a four-week prospective randomized placebo-controlled study, which reported that bilberry may be useful in enhancing the visual results of myopic eyes. 
  6. Prevent cancer: Bilberry extracts can help prevent the development of diseases such as colon cancer, breast cancer, and leukemia. According to research on several berries, the presence of phenolic components delphinidin and glycosides in bilberries inhibits malignant cell proliferation and causes apoptosis.
  7. Lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease: Evidence shows that drinking fruit and vegetable juices high in phenolic components may lower the risk of Alzheimer's disease. In certain cases, therapy with myricetin, quercetin, or anthocyanin-rich extracts found in bilberry significantly reduced Alzheimer's symptoms, indicating that behavioral abnormalities may have been addressed.
  8. Protect from liver damage: Because bilberry is rich in antioxidants, it is known to have a protective effect against restraint stress-induced liver damage. Bilberry extracts have been reported in studies to have inhibitory and radical scavenging action, which boosts the levels of beneficial glutathione and vitamin C in the body while decreasing the concentration of nitric oxide in the liver tissues.
  9. Improve digestive health: Bilberries contain 5 to 10 percent tannins, which act as an astringent and target the intestines, lowering intestinal inflammation and aiding in the treatment of diarrhea. Anthocyanins in bilberries enhance stomach mucus, allowing for a more thorough digestion of meals. The increased mucus in the stomach aids in the healing of stomach ulcers. The National Institute of Health in the United States recognizes the health benefits of this berry and supports its usage in the treatment of stomach ulcers.
  10. Improve chronic venous insufficiency: Bilberry extracts are used to treat chronic venous insufficiency that arises when valves in veins in the legs that deliver blood to the heart are damaged. Although studies have suggested improvements in symptoms, the majority of them were poorly constructed.


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Are there any downsides with bilberries?

Bilberries are usually considered safe for consumption. However, it is advised not to consume more than 60 grams of dried, ripe berries per day. 

Bilberries are rich in anthocyanosides, which are responsible for various health advantages. Dried powdered bilberries are used as supplements to improve health. However, if the recommended dose exceeds, they can cause various negative effects on your health. 

  • Allergic reactions: Although bilberry is generally regarded safe in proportions seen in food, allergic responses can occur. Tannins are naturally occurring compounds in bilberries (found in many foods such as coffee, tea, red wine, blueberries, cranberries, chocolate, and some nuts and beans). If you are allergic or sensitive to tannin-containing foods, you should avoid bilberry. The long-term or high-dose safety of bilberry supplements is unknown. Some experts warn that using huge doses of highly concentrated bilberry supplements may cause side effects due to tannin overload. 
  • Contraindicated in pregnancy: Bilberry extracts should be avoided by pregnant or nursing women because their safety is unknown. It is crucial to remember that supplements are not vetted for safety, adverse responses are frequently not reported and dietary supplements are generally unregulated.
  • Interactions with blood thinning medications: Anticancer treatments, antibiotics, beta-blockers, and arthritis therapies may be inhibited by anthocyanins. When used with blood-thinning medicines such as warfarin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and aspirin, or when taken by people with bleeding problems, high flavonoid consumption from bilberry supplements might increase the risk of bleeding. 
  • Interacts with diabetes medications: Bilberry reduces blood sugar, which may enhance the benefits of diabetes medicine. Additionally, combining bilberry with other herbs that reduce blood sugar may result in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Ginger, ginseng, fenugreek, and garlic are all blood sugar-lowering herbs. If you take diabetes medication, do not ingest bilberry.

Although bilberries should not be used as a replacement for traditional medical therapy or preventative measures for any medical problem, eating more of them (or other anthocyanin-rich fruit) may have some protective effects in some situations.

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Medically Reviewed on 8/16/2022
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Bilberry - Uses, Side Effects, and More: https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-202/bilberry#:~:text=Bilberry%20(Vaccinium%20myrtillus)%20is%20a,They%20might%20help%20reduce%20swelling

Bilberry: https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/herb/bilberry#:~:text=Bilberry%20fruit%20and%20extract%20are,muscle%20spasms%2C%20and%20even%20death

Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92770/