Bilberry, scientifically known as Vaccinium myrtillus, is a small fruit native to Northern Europe. Historically, bilberries were consumed for their rich taste and were also believed to have various health benefits. They were used to treat conditions like diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions related to circulation and the health of blood vessels.
Modern research has highlighted the numerous health benefits of bilberries, mainly attributed to their high content of anthocyanins, a type of flavonoid with potent antioxidant effects. These antioxidants can help the body neutralize harmful free radicals, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
The anthocyanins in bilberries have been specifically studied for their potential to improve vision. They are believed to fortify the blood vessels in the eyes and enhance the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the eye tissues, potentially improving night vision and reducing eye fatigue.
Bilberries are also rich in dietary fiber, which can promote digestive health by aiding in regular bowel movements and supporting a healthy gut microbiota. The fiber content can additionally contribute to feelings of fullness, potentially aiding in weight management.
Furthermore, studies suggest that bilberries may support heart health. The anthocyanins can help reduce inflammation, lower LDL cholesterol levels, and prevent the oxidation of LDL particles, all of which are factors that can contribute to heart disease. The fruit’s high potassium content also helps in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels by counteracting the effects of sodium and relaxing blood vessel walls.
Additionally, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of bilberries have been associated with improved skin health, as they can protect against oxidative stress and inflammation, two key factors in skin aging and disorders.