(NaturalNews) Bilberries are tasty, dark blue or purple berries that are related to the blueberry. Native to North America and Europe, the bilberry belongs to the Vaccinium family of herbs. This powerful berry is one of the richest sources of antioxidants, and has been shown to improve vision and symptoms associated with diabetes.
Both the berries and leaves of the plant are edible, although for regular consumption, it is better to avoid the leaves as there are chemicals in them that can cause liver inflammation. In times past, people ate the leaves or drank a tisane made from them. This concoction did lower blood sugar, but at the cost of liver inflammation. It is now recommended that only the berries be ingested.
The high concentration of anti-oxidants is in the berries. Bilberries are well known as a natural treatment for diabetes mellitus.
Bilberries contain concentrated quantities of a flavonoid known as anthocyanin. This potent antioxidant is known to shield blood vessels from damage caused by fats and calcium that circulate in the blood. They are known to have a beneficial effect on the miniscule capillaries that are often damaged by too much sugar in the blood. The anthocyanin enhances binding of harmful chemicals to themselves instead of to cells in the body. This process protects the innermost lining of the blood vessels from being damaged by oxidation chemicals.
This action of the bilberry may help prevent eye conditions common to diabetes, such as retinopathy and macular degeneration. It is also seen as helpful in other eye conditions including cataracts and night blindness. There is some evidence that this remarkable berry is also helpful in reducing the burning and tingling associated with diabetic neuropathy, which can cause extreme discomfort of the feet and hands.
The visual benefits of the bilberry were first noticed During World War II when British Royal Air Force pilots ate bilberry jam. They noticed that their night vision was sharper than usual whenever they ate the jam before starting their nighttime missions.
If you find a good source of bilberries growing near you, they can be picked when ripe and frozen. They freeze well so they can be eaten all year. This berry also makes a great jam, but the medicinal benefits are greatly reduced.
If picking wild bilberries is not possible, the best way to be certain of getting a consistent supply of the helpful anti-oxidants is by purchasing a regulated, commercial preparation of only berries. The bilberry fruit has no known harmful effects.
Sheryl is a kinesiologist, nutritionist and holistic practitioner. Her website www.younglivingguide.com provides the latest research on preventing disease, looking naturally gorgeous, and feeling emotionally and physically fabulous. You can also find some of the most powerful super foods on the planet including raw chocolate, purple corn, and many others.