Originally published December 24 2014
Bilberries naturally reduce diet-related inflammation and high blood pressure
by PF Louis
(NaturalNews) You may have read how bilberry jam enhanced WWII Royal Air Force pilots' night vision for bombing raids on Germany and in defense against German bombing raids on England. That bilberry attribute was purely anecdotal, of course. Science must make its mark and approve any health properties before others can agree with those who actually experience the benefits.
Bilberries are closely related to blueberries, which arrived in the USA around 1920. But Europeans have been using bilberry leaves and dried berries for centuries, long enough to develop folk remedies and applications before scientific inquiry was part of explaining how and why things that work do what they do.
There have been some studies on bilberry to confirm why the pilots experienced enhanced night vision that also observed bilberry's properties of helping prevent cataracts and slow macular degeneration. It appears that this occurs from bilberry's ability to improve blood flow in the many small capillaries of the eyes.
But if that's the case, how does it affect other areas hampered by sluggish circulation and inflammation? To answer that, a Finnish group took up the bilberry challenge, but not merely for night vision. The Finnish group had bigger fish to fry with bilberry as the University of East Finland probed what bilberries could do for high blood pressure and inflammation from dietary sources.
According to a December 18, 2014, University of East Finland press release: "Bilberries are associated with several beneficial health effects and their use involves plenty of traditional wisdom.
"The beneficial health effects of bilberries are thought to be explained by polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, the levels of which are significantly higher in bilberries than in commercially cultivated blueberries."
That's quite a statement considering how highly regarded blueberries are for improving various health conditions.
The Finnish bilberry study The study was published in the peer-reviewed open-access journal PLOS ONE in December of 2014 after its original submission in April 2014 as "Wild Blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) Alleviate Inflammation and Hypertension Associated with Developing Obesity in Mice Fed with a High-Fat Diet." Open-access means you don't have to subscribe or pay to read the whole study.
The project under which this study took place is "Effects of berry consumption on obesity-associated metabolic disorders." Perhaps the high-fat diet (HFD) shouldn't be taken literally. It might be more appropriate to look at this as an obesity-inducing outcome. The black rats fed a HFD were prone to obesity, but among humans it's been revealed that foods like coconut oil can help bring about weight loss.
Further examination has made the high-fat diet among humans as a source of obesity obsolete. High amounts of sugar and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) in processed foods has taken the role of villain for obesity, while processed fats such as margarine and other hydrogenated oils are seen to cause inflammation. Good fats, even saturated, have been given a green light for health lately.
Of course, obesity is associated with metabolic disorder syndrome that lead to diabetes type 2, inflammation and hypertension, or high blood pressure, all of which threaten heart health.
The study demonstrated how consuming bilberry extracts especially or even bilberry water had a powerful impact on the markers associated with metabolic disorder syndrome with the rats being fed whatever was creating their obesity.
Apparently, European bilberries, or "wild blueberries," have more clout than American domestic blueberries. But various studies have concluded that our homegrown varieties are also high in anthocyanins (ANC) and other polyphenols contained in bilberries.
It is the high ANC content that makes the most difference with reducing metabolic disorders from the dietary effects of the standard American diet (SAD). That doesn't mean you should attempt to compensate an indulgence in high-sugar, bad fatty acid processed food with an indulgence in blueberries.
But blueberries do have their place for enhancing health and your immune system's disease protection.
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