Eating wild blueberries diminishes the adverse effects of a high-fat diet, according to a recent study at the University of Eastern Finland. For the first time, wild blueberries were shown to have beneficial effects on both blood pressure and nutrition-derived inflammatory responses.
Bilberries (wild blueberries) are recognized as a good source of flavonoids, especially anthocyanins, which have strong proven antioxidative activity.
A growing body of research is establishing bilberries as a potential ally to protect against diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s — so it’s no surprise that more and more people are picking bilberries than ever before!
Low-grade inflammation and elevated blood pressure are often associated with obesity-related diseases. The study focused on the health effects of bilberries (wild blueberries) on mice that were fed a high-fat diet for a period of three months.
Some of the mice were fed either 5% or 10% of freeze-dried bilberries in the diet. The researchers assessed the effects of the diets by looking at inflammatory cell and cytokine levels, systolic blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and weight gain.
Mice on the high-fat diet experienced significant weight gain and detrimental changes in glucose and lipid metabolism, inflammation factors and blood pressure. Bilberries diminished the pro-inflammatory effects of the high-fat diet, indicated by an altered cytokine profile and a reduced relative prevalence of inflammation supporting T-cells. Bilberries also prevented elevated blood pressure caused by the high-fat diet.
Bilberries have a diverse range of micronutrients, with moderate levels (relative to respective Dietary Reference Intakes) of the essential dietary mineral manganese, vitamin C, vitamin K and dietary fiber.
Bilberries constitute an integral part of the Nordic diet and they could be better utilized also elsewhere in the world. The beneficial health effects of bilberries are thought to be explained by polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, the levels of which are significantly higher in bilberries than in commercially cultivated blueberries.