Eating bilberries reduces the negative impact of a high-fat diet on the body, according to a study performed at the University of Eastern Finland. Bilberries were shown for the first time to lower both blood pressure and nutrition-derived inflammatory responses.
Low-grade inflammation and elevated blood pressure are often associated with obesity-related diseases. The study focused on the health effects of bilberries on mice that were fed a high-fat diet for three months. Some of the mice were fed either 5 percent or 10 percent of freeze-dried bilberries as part of their meals.
Mice on the high-fat diet gained a significant amount of weight and had 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, according to the study.
Bilberries are an important part of the Nordic diet and could benefit people in other countries. Polyphenols, especially anthocyanins, are considered the reason for bilberries’ health benefits. The polyphenols’ levels are significantly higher in bilberries than in commercially-grown blueberries.