Bilberry has been used for centuries, both medicinally and as a food in jams and pies. It is related to the blueberry and is native to Northern Europe. Bilberry fruit contains chemicals known as anthocyanosides, plant pigments that have excellent antioxidant properties. They scavenge damaging particles in the body known as free radicals, helping to prevent or reverse damage to cells. Antioxidants have been shown to help prevent a number of long-term illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and an eye disorder called macular degeneration. Bilberry also contains vitamin C, which is another antioxidant.
Not many studies have been done to examine bilberry specifically. Even fewer studies have been done in humans. Most of the suggestions about bilberry's effectiveness come from research on similar antioxidants, or from test tube and limited animal studies, and is used in bellow applications:
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Diarrhea and wounds
Vaccinium myrtillus L. fruits contain the highest amounts of anthocyanins in comparison with other berries such as Vaccinium angustifolium.
The amount of anthocyanins in the berries ranges from 300 to 698 mg/100 g and increases during the ripening process.
Anthocyanins are water-soluble pigments responsible for red, pink, mauve, purple, blue,or violet color of most flower and fruits. These compounds act as potent antioxidants and phosphodiesterase inhibitors,thus being particularly effective in the amelioration of capillary resistance and permeability and are widely used in dietary botanicals and pharmaceutical market for the treatment of vascular and vision disorders.
The bilberry anthocyanins are C-3 glucosides, galactosides, and arabinosides of cyanidin, peonidin,delphinidin, malvidin and petunidin.There is many low quality or adulterated extracts in the market worldwide, so it is very important to distinguish if you have got the right products.
Anthocyanidins, are anthocyanins without the sugar moiety and should be considered as anthocyanin degradation products, occurring when there has been incorrect extract production or wrong storage.