Bilberries are rich in nutrients and have a similar profile to blueberries. These berries can offer approximately 85 calories, 15 grams of naturally-occurring sugar and 4 grams of fibre per cup. They also contain around 85% water and good amounts of manganese and vitamins C and K. Bilberries are also full of antioxidants that help to protect the body against damage and disease. They are particularly high in anthocyanins, which are thought to be responsible for the berries health benefits.
Could improve vision
The fruit is best known for its positive effects on eye health. It is traditionally thought to improve night vision, although there is little evidence to prove this. That said, it can still benefit the eyes in other ways.
One study of people with a condition that leads to a gradual loss of sight, called glaucoma, found that a daily dose of 120mg of bilberry anthocyanins improved vision by around 30% over a two year period.
May reduce inflammation
Bilberry is high in anthocyanins, which are thought to be responsible for anti-inflammatory effects of the fruit. One study found that when taking a bilberry supplement daily, people experienced a 36-60% reduction in inflammatory markers. Another discovered a significant reduction in inflammatory markers when drinking 330ml of bilberry juice daily.
Could improve heart health
As they are rich in vitamin K, bilberries may be good for heart health. Vitamin K helps the prevention of blood clots, which reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke. In a study, 35 people experienced improved platelet function, blood pressure and good cholesterol levels when taking a mixture of berries daily, including bilberries. Another study found when a dosage of anthocyanins from blackcurrants and bilberries was taken daily; there was an 11% rise in good cholesterol and a 14% drop in bad cholesterol.
Bilberries can be eaten fresh, dried or added into recipes such as pancakes, muffins, smoothies or porridge. Alternatively you can also take a bilberry supplement.