Diabetes society and the benefits of bilberries
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Diabetes.co.uk - Natural Therapies Bilberry Extract
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Updated on 15th January 2019
Bilberries (scientific name: vaccinium myrtillus) are a dark blue fruit, similar in appearance to blueberries but are smaller, softer and darker.
Research studies indicate that a compound in bilberries, anthocyanosides, appear to promote blood vessel strength which could have protective properties against forms of retinal damage in people with diabetes.
What are anthocyanosides?
Anthocyanosides are a part of a class of nutrients called flavonoids that are found in a number of fruits and other plants.
Anthocyanosides are found abundantly in a number of purple, blue and red berries and also in purple coloured vegetables.
What are the benefits of bilberries?
The following benefits have been observed from research studies into bilberries, bilberry extract or anthocyanosides:
- Strengthens blood vessels
Prevent cell damage
Could help in treating retinopathy
May help lower blood glucose levels
Bilberry extract and retinopathy
Retinopathy and maculopathy are both conditions of the retina in the eye that are more likely to develop in people with diabetes.
Research has shown that people with retinopathy that took bilberry extract during the study showed signs of strengthening of blood vessels in the retina and reduced haemorrhaging.
The research that has been carried out to date has been small scale and so whilst bilberry extract shows promise, researchers are yet to find out how much bilberry extract may be of help in limiting the development of retinopathy.
Bilberries and lower blood glucose levels
Bilberry extract is not recognised as a treatment for diabetes but people with diabetes may notice that it helps in lowering blood glucose levels.
If you are on blood glucose lowering medication that can bring on hypoglycemia , you may need to monitor your blood glucose levels and take precautions to ensure blood sugar levels don’t go too low.
Bilberries and heart health
The National Institutes of Health in the United States notes that there is evidence to suggest that bilberry extract could help lower blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels. Animal studies indicate that anthocyanosides may prevent oxidation of LDL cholesterol which plays a role in atherosclerosis and heart disease
Anthocyanosides are also recognised as being helpful for improving circulation and reducing the risk of blood clots forming.
Are there other foods which contain anthocyanosides?
Other good sources of anthocyanosides include:
Blue and purple grapes
People with diabetes on blood glucose lowering medication should be aware that bilberry extract may lower blood glucose levels and could increase the risk of hypoglycemia.