Bilberries for Health
Bilberries, sometimes called European blueberries or whortle berries, are the fruits of a shrub commonly found in Great Britain, Europe and some Asian countries. Bilberries are in fact related to the wild blueberries and huckleberries found in North America, and a few varieties of bilberries grow in certain western states.
Bilberries are highly regarded for their high levels of antioxidants and are said to be effective digestive aids. Bilberries are included today in the super fruit category because the are rich in anthocyanins, a potent antioxidant compound.
While bilberries are very difficult to grow commercially, bilberries are commonly available as industrial ingredients in the form of purees, juices, and juice concentrates, as well as certain powdered extracts for the anthocyanin contents.
Bilberries for GI Health
Researchers from the University Hospital of Zurich (Switzerland) exposed lab mice to a chemical that induced inflammation in the colon, resulting in colitis. The mice were subsequently divided into three groups: one group had their diet supplemented with 1% anthocyanins, another group was supplemented with 10% anthocyanins, and the last groupo received a diet supplemented with 20% dried bilberries.
- The mice that consumed dried bilberries had a decrease in the secretion of pro-inflammatory compounds, and showed a marked reduction in the severity of colitis.
- The anthocyanin-supplemented groups also exhibited reduced inflammation in the intestine.
Observing that: “Taken together, ingestion of dried bilberries had positive effects on various parameters,” the study authors conclude that: “Oral administration of [anthocyanins] resulted in an amelioration of acute colitis as well as chronic colitis.”
Bottom line: consuming bilberries may reduce bowel inflammation iand have the potential to reduce symptoms for inflammatory bowel disease patients.
Source:Piberger, H., Oehme, A., Hofmann, C., Dreiseitel, A., Sand, P. G., Obermeier, F., Schoelmerich, J., Schreier, P., Krammer, G., Rogler, G. “Bilberries and their anthocyanins ameliorate experimental colitis.” Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 55(11) 1724–1729; November 2011.