Bilberry Benefits: 5 Must-Have Facts for Healthy Living

Bilberries are well known for being one of the richest natural sources of anthocyanins. They have more anthocyanins than other berries, such as raspberries, cherries, strawberries, cranberries, and elderberries.

Anthocyanins give bilberries their characteristic dark blue colour and are responsible for the antioxidant properties that bilberries have.

Bilberries are mostly renowned for their ability to improve eyesight, but they also have other health benefits. Research has shown that bilberries have lipid-lowering abilities and that they reduce high blood pressure.

Bilberries also lower blood glucose and have anti-inflammatory properties, which are handy in the treatment or prevention of chronic ailments such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.

With so many health benefits, it’s no wonder why bilberries are popular all over the world.

So, how varied are the nutritional benefits of bilberries and how does the body benefit from them?

What Are Bilberries?

Bilberries, sometimes referred to as whortleberries, huckleberries, or blaeberries, are dark blue-skinned berries that are mostly found in the native forests of Europe, Asia, and North America.

Even though bilberries are small in size, they pack a punch in nutrition and are widely known for having medicinal properties.

Bilberries are in fact wild blueberries (vaccinium myrtillus). Though originally from northern Europe and America, they can now be found growing in all different kinds of climates around the world.

However, regions with cooler temperatures and lots of light are ideal.

The abundance of light, coupled with cool temperatures during the growing season, gives wild bilberries a strong flavour. These factors also make wild bilberries rich in nutrients.

Bilberries Growing in The Wild
Bilberries Growing in The Wild

Bilberries taste similar to cranberries but they lack the tartness that cranberries have. Bilberries have a more acidic flavour compared to cultivated blueberries.

The flesh of bilberries is soft, dark, and juicy. Whole bilberries are sold fresh, frozen or dried.

Fact 1: Bilberries Are Rich in Nutrients

Berries are rich in nutrients and bilberries are no exception. A cup of bilberries has 85 calories, 15 grams of sugar and approximately 4 grams of fibre. They’re also a good source of manganese, vitamin C and vitamin K.

A single serving of bilberries contains 33 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to fight off infections such as the common cold.

Bilberries contain trace nutrients too, such as niacin, thiamin, iron, and calcium.

These berries also contain very little fat (0.1g in a 100 g portion). This makes them a great option for people who are on a low-fat diet, or for those that are looking to control their weight.

Fact 2: Bilberries Have Potent Antioxidant Properties

Bilberries are rich in anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants counteract the effects of free radicals and other active metabolites that are produced by the body.

Free radicals, if left unchecked, can cause:

  • Damage to the eye lens, leading to bad vision and in extreme cases, vision loss.
  • Joint inflammation resulting in chronic joint illnesses, such as arthritis.
  • Progressive damage to nerve and brain cells that can contribute to the development of degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
  • Rapid ageing that can be seen by having wrinkles at a young age and premature greying of hair.
  • Increased risk of long term damage to the heart, which can lead to coronary artery disease.
  • Different types of cancers.

Incorporating bilberries as a regular part of your diet can help you to avoid these diseases.

The recommended daily intake of anthocyanins is 100 mcg per day. A single serving of wild blueberries provides between 300-800 mcg of anthocyanins.

During pregnancy, cells in the body rapidly grow and produce many free radicals. Eating bilberries will minimise the potential damage that they cause and promote the good health of both mother and baby.

Woman Eating Pancakes With Bilberries
Woman Eating Pancakes With Bilberries

Fact 3: Bilberries Have Anti-Cancer Properties

According to the 2019 CDC report, cancer was the second leading cause of death in America for that year. Cancer treatment is never easy, and in most cases it doesn’t lead to recovery.

Recent public health initiatives have been focused on finding ways to detect cancer in the early stages and to prevent it entirely.

According to the American Cancer Society, a third of all cancer deaths are caused by dietary factors.

Cancer cells are formed when the DNA in normal cells is damaged. Free radicals can cause DNA damage.

Bilberries have antioxidant, antiproliferative, apoptotic, anti-angiogenic, and anti-inflammatory effects. These reduce the likelihood of cancer cells forming in the body.

If cancer cells form, the anti-angiogenic effects make it hard for the cells to thrive and form tumours. Instead, defective cells are more likely to self-destruct in the presence of anthocyanins.

Fact 4: Bilberries Have Cardio-Protective Properties

Every year, cardiovascular diseases are responsible for many deaths all over the world. Atherosclerosis is the main underlying factor in most of these diseases. This occurs when fat builds up on the walls of arteries in the heart and narrows their lumen.

Narrow arteries can’t transport as much blood as is required by the heart. When heart muscles are deprived of oxygen and nutrients, , it can lead to heart failure or a heart attack.

Heart Attack
Man Having Heart Attack

Bilberries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help reduce the inflammation that leads to the development of atherosclerosis.

Eating bilberries also lowers blood pressure, lowers the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, and has anti-obesity effects. All of these factors lessen the load on the heart, which lessens the risk of developing heart disease.

Fact 5: Eating Bilberries Can Improve Eyesight

View Of A Blurry Book With Reading Glasses
View Of A Blurry Book With Reading Glasses

There’s a long history of people eating bilberries as a way to improve their eyesight. Many studies have been done on the effect of eating bilberries on diverse ocular diseases, such as cataracts, retinopathy, and macular degeneration.

These have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that bilberries slow down the loss of eyesight and improve vision.

The effects were not only noticeable in people that had bad eyesight. People with normal sight also reported a noticeable change after a regular intake of bilberries.

It’s normal for eyesight to worsen as people age. The same happens with the progression of diabetes. Eating bilberries can help to preserve good eyesight for longer as people age or as their diabetes advances.

Fact 6: Bilberries Have Antimicrobial Properties

Test tube studies on the effect of bilberry extract on microbes such as Salmonella and Staphylococcus Aureus showed that bilberries stopped the growth of these harmful bacteria.

Regularly eating bilberries can strengthen your immune system and help you to fight off these infectious bacteria.

Get the Best Freeze-Dried Organic Whole Wild Blueberries

LOOV freeze-dried whole organic blueberries
Freeze-Dried Organic Whole Wild Blueberries from LOOV Food

If you are looking for top quality Freeze-Dried Organic Whole Wild Blueberries, or bilberries, look no further. We’ve handpicked wild blueberries sourced from organic Nordic forests.

Our bilberries:

  • Are 100% organic and all-natural.
  • Contain no additives, fillers, or preservatives.
  • Contain no GMOs or refined sugars. Their taste is all-natural.

These bilberries are very easy to incorporate into your diet. You can add them to your daily smoothie, porridge, yoghurt or muesli.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Bilberries Good for You?

Bilberries are full of antioxidants which can reduce inflammation in body tissues and lower the chances of developing chronic diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Bilberries also contain phenolic acids. These protect brain cells and can help to prevent neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

How Much Bilberry Is Safe?

The recommended daily intake of bilberries is half a cup per day. This is approximately 74 g of fresh or frozen bilberries. In powder form, one tablespoon a day is enough. The full benefits of eating bilberries only come with regular intake. A little every day will go a long way in promoting long-term good health.

Who Should Not Take Bilberry?

If you are a diabetic that takes insulin or oral antidiabetic medicines, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor before you incorporate more bilberries into your diet.

If you’re not sure of whether or not it’s safe for you to eat bilberries, consult with your doctor before you commit yourself to regularly consuming them.

Which Is Better, Wild or Cultivated Blueberries?

Wild bilberries are healthier than their cultivated alternatives. In fact, with a whopping four times the amount of antioxidants, fewer calories, and less sugar, the bilberry is the best berry.