Bilberry extract is well known among those within the scientific community owing to its abundance of chemical compounds that are well renowned for their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. It is derived from the Bilberry, a small edible berry that is closely related to the North American blueberry. Research into bilberry extract benefits indicate that one may gain numerous health benefits including retinal health, circulatory health, and assistance with the management of blood sugar. However, in order to ensure one’s health, it is important to inform oneself of the possible side effects of taking bilberry extract. Therefore, while there are no published side effects of the extract, those who are taking diabetes medication are warned of drastic drops of blood sugar, and are advised to avoid such situations.
The single most renowned bilberry extract benefits is the support it offers to healthy vision. Bilberry contains a high amount of a chemical known as anthocyanaside that is known to improve retina problems, especially those that arise from blood pressure or diabetes related complications. According to a 2010 study conducted on anthocyanidin compounds published in the Vestinik Oftalmologii journal, taking bilberry extract works towards protecting and improving the nutrient status within the retina, thus aiding in the regeneration of the light sensitive pigment cells in the retina.
Additionally, in the July 2009 issue of the Molecular Nutrition and Food Research journal, a tissue culture study specified that bilberry antioxidant extract worked to terminate the oxidation of lipids, and further inhibited any retinal damage resulting from a response to toxins. In another study conducted over two years, it was noted that the combination of ginkgo biloba and bilberry extract also improved vision in patients who were suffering from normal pressure glaucoma.
The Clinical Chemistry Journal, November 2011 issue, published a study conducted on individuals suffering from elevated cholesterol levels indicated that the consumption of 320 milligrams of the extract improved blood flow by 28.4%. Furthermore, there was a notable increase in high density lipoprotein, which is the good type of cholesterol, and a notable decrease in low density lipoprotein, the bad type of cholesterol.
Blood Sugar Management
An animal study conducted and published withinthe Journal of Nutrition, March 2010 issue suggests that among the bilberry extract benefits is the effective lowering of one’s blood sugar levels. It was noted that not only did taking bilberry extract lower blood sugar, but it also improved insulin sensitivity. Through the activation of an enzyme which adequately stimulates the body’s mechanism for burning fat and inhibiting the production of cholesterol, bilberry extract is effective in improving the absorption of glucose in muscles whilst lowering the fat and glucose levels within one’s liver.
All in all, bilberry extract benefits far outweigh any possible side effects and are a great avenue to achieve health naturally. However, it is worth noting that those who are pregnant, lactating, or have recently had/ going to have surgery should avoid consuming bilberry extract owing to its effects on one’s blood sugar levels. Bilberry should not be taken at least two weeks prior to/after a surgery, to ensure safe recovery.
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Boniface R, Robert A. Influence of anthocyanosides on human connective tissue metabolism. Klinische Monatsblatter fur Augenheilkunde 1996; 209:368-72. 40.