Bilberries are native to Northern Europe and some parts of North America and Asia. People may confuse bilberries with blueberries because of their identical appearance but they both vary in properties and nutritional values. Bilberry has many names that vary from region to region, but scientifically it is referred to as Vaccinium Myrtillus. It is found on low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium.
Bilberries are known for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. They have major positive effects on the human eyes and the cardiovascular system.
In this article, we will be discussing the bilberry in detail so you can know about its many health, skin and hair benefits that can provide many benefits.
In the distant past, Bilberries were used among the European and Native American population. There is evidence of bilberry’s usage as an herbal medicine in the 12th century to induce menstruation. By the 16th century, there are records that show bilberries being prescribed by many German herbalists for different ailments such as bladder stones, lung diseases, and liver disorders.
One cup (100 g) of bilberries contains:
- 44 calories
- 0.7g of proteins
- 0.2g of water
- 11.5g of total carbohydrates
- 2.8g of dietary fiber
- No sugar, no starch
- 0.5g of total fat
- 44mg of vitamin C
- 15mg of calcium
- 0.8g of iron
- 7mg of magnesium
- 103mg of potassium
- 0.1mg of zinc
- 0.11mg of copper and much more
Properties of bilberries
Bilberries have a high concentration of anthocyanosides that can help in many things such as building strong blood vessels, improving circulation, and preventing blood platelets from sticking to each other.
Another major benefit of anthocyanosides is that it increases the production of a pigment called rhodopsin that works great in improving night vision.
Uses of bilberries
- You can use the blueberries as an herbal supplement according to the consultation of your practitioner
- Add bilberry tea, leaves or fruit to hot water to your diet and get yourself a refreshing start in the form of a healthy drink
- You can drink bilberry extract for different purposes such as liver, kidney or vision problems
- You can use the bilberries as a filling for tarts and pies
- You can collect some fresh bilberries to make a fresh jam and relish it with bread
- You can utilize
- And of course, bilberries are great to eat fresh
Let’s now discuss the benefits of bilberries in terms of health, skin, and hair.
Benefits for health
Improves eye health
Bilberry extract has compounds in it that enhance the eye vision when combined with the lutein that is present in the macula (a yellowish area near the center of the retina in the eye). Bilberries also work great in preventing age-related ocular diseases and other diseases such as night-blindness and cataract etc. Bilberry extract also helps in producing rhodopsin pigment that supports the human eye to adapt to light changes.
According to a brief study published in the Journal of Nutrition, Health, and Aging, bilberry shows great assistance in the treatment of eye fatigue. A test was conducted on 281 people who used too much video display terminal (VDT), and the researchers determined that treatment with bilberry extract may help them overcome subjective and objective measures of eye fatigue.
Increase blood health
Consumption of bilberries helps in increasing the blood circulation and regulation of blood pressure and vascular health that leads to efficient muscle contraction. Its consumption also showed a reduction in varicose and spider veins.
Prevents bad cholesterol
The high concentration of anthocyanosides found in bilberries helps in strengthening blood vessels and preventing LDL (commonly referred to as “Bad Cholesterol”), which is a major risk factor for our body as it might block the blood vessels, which in return can lead to a stroke or heart attack.
Bilberries have a high content of anthocyanin (about four times more than blackcurrants), that makes them possibly the best choice for reducing LDL cholesterol levels.
Click here to read additional research.
Help control diabetes
Not just raw bilberry, but its leaves are also excellent for medicinal purposes. Consuming a tea of bilberry leaves can be a great remedy to control the blood sugar levels in people suffering from diabetes.
You can consume the bilberry leaf tea right after eating meals that have a high amount of sugar, and the tea will help reduce the glucose in the body that results after consuming sugar-rich food. If you don’t want to drink tea, you can also eat raw bilberries in combination with other healthy meals such as oatmeal.
Click here to read additional research.
Help prevent cancer
The anthocyanins in the bilberry have cancer-preventive qualities due to the antioxidants present in it. You can use Bilberry extract to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. A study conducted on DNA showed an anti-inflammatory profile in macrophages (a type of white blood cell of the immune system) which was treated with bilberry extract. Since inflammation is an essential risk factor for cancer, bilberry might be very fruitful in preventing it.
Click here to read more research in this area.
Ancient Europeans used bilberry to treat diarrhea for many years. It is because this berry contains tannins (substances that can act as both astringent and anti-inflammatory) that can help strengthen tissues. Bilberry is believed to reduce the symptoms of diarrhea by reducing the intestinal inflammation.
Help control gum inflammation
According to a study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, bilberry may help control the gum inflammation in people with gingivitis. The study included people that were given a choice to consume either 250 grams of bilberries, 500 grams of bilberries, or placebo or receive a standard care for 7 days. The researchers concluded that consuming 500 grams of bilberries resulted in a reduction of gum inflammation.
Treat a sore throat
A sore throat can make our day worst, but there are a lot of natural remedies to treat it too. One of them is using bilberries; they can be used to ease the discomfort caused due to a sore throat. You can chew on a handful of dried bilberries for 4 times a day, daily, for better results. Alternatively, you can also gargle with bilberry tea for about 3 to 4 times a day. Boil either 1 to 2tbsp of mashed bilberries or bilberry leaves in hot water. Once the water is cooled down, you can use it for gargling.
Benefits for skin
Bilberries are also amazing for the skin! Their consumption can help improve skin health by toughening and strengthening the collagen structures. The amount of resveratrol and quercetin available in the bilberries has amazing anti-aging effects on the skin. The antioxidants present in them are also a plus that can help protect the skin from free radical damage.
Here are some other benefits of bilberries on the skin.
Acne on the face can be a major cause for people losing confidence in the public. Well, you can consume bilberries to prevent the acne breakouts. Bilberry is enriched with a high concentration of zinc, fiber, and vitamins that can make your skin healthy and well-nourished.
You can use Skin Treatment Kit by Planet Eden that includes 50% Glycolic peel, Glycolic Acid Pre-Peel cleanser, and antioxidant recovery cream. It contains organic extracts of bilberry, apple, lemon, orange, papaya, grapefruit and a combination of other healthy ingredients to revitalize dull, acne-prone, and sun damaged skin. You can apply all these 3 products to free your skin from acne.
Treat skin allergies
When our skin is exposed to the sun, the high amount of UV rays causes the destruction of skin cells by triggering oxidative stress. Topical application of bilberries can help ease several chronic skin allergic conditions such as dermatitis, pruritus, and eczema.
The anthocyanins present in bilberry might also be useful for reducing chronic pruritus that can occur in people with atopic dermatitis or other skin ailments.
There are so many chemical products out there to remove those ugly little blackheads on our skin especially on our nose. Using chemical products might not be a problem for some people but those products sure come with side effects. You can also use bilberries here. All you need to do is crush some fresh bilberries and apply on your affected skin. You have to repeat this every day to see positive results.
Benefits for hair
Treat hair loss
Hair loss is a major problem in adults, and people might go for dangerous ways to get hair back on their head. It is better to treat and stop hair loss rather than worrying about it later. Eating bilberries or using them directly on the head in the form of bilberry extract or mask can help make your hair follicles stronger than ever.
Soothe the agitated scalp
The tannins in the bilberries have anti-inflammatory properties that make them a perfect natural remedy for an agitated scalp. Raw bilberries or their extract also help boost the production of collagen in the hair.
Side effects of bilberries
- Bilberries contain tannins that are also present in other foods such as coffee, red wine, tea, chocolate, beans etc., so if you are allergic to any of them, you should avoid consuming bilberries
- High consumption of bilberries can reduce the blood sugar levels, hence, they should not be taken when you are taking any medication to lower blood sugar or thin the blood.
- Bilberries may cause dizziness, gastrointestinal upset or a headache, but such reports are rare.
- Some might experience allergic reactions and abdominal discomfort
- Not recommended for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
Bilberries storage tips
If you want to store them for long durations, then your best bet would be freezing them. Wash them, pat them dry, put them on a baking tray and put it into the freezer. Once they are fully frozen, you can move them into an airtight jar and then store them in the freezer again.
If you do not plan to store the bilberries for a long period of time, you can place them in an airtight container and cover it with plastic wrap. Its contact with water can cause them to rot faster.
While bilberries do come with a lot of benefits for health, skin, and hair, they still should not be used as a substitute for standard treatment for any medical condition. However, eating them might give you a boost in health but you should still eat them in a moderate amount. You can find bilberries in many forms such as dried, raw, jam, extract, or powdered. What you take totally depends on your choice and requirements.