People often confuse the bilberry with the blueberry and of course both these delicious fruits have wonderful health benefits, especially their strong antioxidant properties. Although bilberries and blueberries are similar in appearance and closely related, the bilberry is proven to have special benefits for eye health. And these eye health benefits are not something recent as - for example - British World War 2 pilots reported improved night vision when flying after eating bilberry jam!
Why are bilberries so healthy?
Bilberries possess a high content of anthocyanins, which provide potent antioxidant activity. In addition to antioxidants, bilberries support healthy eye function through their anti-inflammatory, collagen stabilizing, vasoprotective, and rhodopsin regenerating properties. So without a doubt, the main benefit of including bilberries in your diet is for your eye health.
Dr. Marc Grossman who is both an optometrist and licensed acupuncturist confirms the health benefits to the eyes: “Bilberry improves circulation in the blood vessels of the eye, helps maintain the integrity of capillaries, stabilizes collagen and stimulates the production of rhodopsin essential for night vision
”. He then goes on to say that it is a myth that nothing can be done to improve your eyesight, but rather through proper diet, lifestyle and supplements you can have a positive impact on your vision.
The long and impressive list of benefits for your eye health
- Bilberries have a very high anthrocyanin content because the pigment is found in both the skin and the flesh while in the North American blueberry, the pigment is only found in the skin. This anthrocyanin antioxidant is known to benefit the eyes and the circulatory system.
- Anthocyanin fortifies blood-vessel walls, improves blood flow and increases oxygen to the tiny blood vessels that keep eyes healthy as well as maintaining good circulation.
- Bilberries protects eyes from eye strain and fatigue.
- Bilberries contain vitamin A which helps to promote sharper vision.
- Bilberries also contain vitamin C, helping to build collagen. This is needed for regeneration of tissue cells and healthy blood vessels.
- Both vitamins A and C help prevent free radical damage to the eyes especially when aging, pollution and toxins are factors.
- Bilberry is known to improve the micro circulation and regeneration of the retinal pupil.
- The flavonoid complex in bilberries, help hasten regeneration of rhodopsin which is a purple pigment used by the eyes for the purpose of night vision. While it has not been proven that bilberry does help people with night blindness, anthocyanosides, which is also a pigment, helps to regenerate a pigment in the retina which is essential for the eye to adapt to light.
- Bilberries may also help to prevent cataracts while treating macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy.
- Bilberry can also assist in preventing the onset of eye diseases like glaucoma, myopia, retinitis and pigmentosa.
How to eat bilberries
Eat bilberries fresh or dried or you can make bilberry tea using fresh or dried berries. Bilberry extract should be standardized to contain 25% anthocyanidin so that it contains the highest percentage of anthocyanosides, making it the strongest form of bilberry.