Bilberries (also known as Vaccinium myrtillus, wild blueberries, and blue whortleberries) have been shown to have the highest Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) rating of more than 20 fresh fruits and berries. ORAC is a measure that USDA researchers use to determine the antioxidant capacity of different foods. The antioxidant properties of bilberries were shown to be even stronger than those of cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, plums, or cultivated blueberries. The antioxidant powers and health benefits of bilberries can be attributed to a number of remarkable compounds contained in them, including anthocyanins, vitamin C, resveratrol (the nutrient responsible for the purported health benefits of red wine), vitamin E, and ellagic acid. Packed with antioxidants, bilberries and other whortleberries are great for the skin. Bilberries can help prevent wrinkles, cellulite and pre-mature aging of the skin as these little antioxidant powerhouses contribute the health of the collagen matrix by neutralizing enzymes that destroy connective tissue and by scavenging free radicals. The anthocyanins and other antioxidants in bilberries may also make bruises heal faster and reduce the risk of varicose veins. Bilberries may also help prevent acne breakouts due to their high concentration of pectin.
Bilberry can improve the health of your circulatory system. According to Dr. Kathi Kemper in her paper “Bilberry,” written for the Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research, antioxidant-rich bilberry can improve circulation and protect against circulatory-related disease. Dr. Kemper suggests that bilberry can improve atherosclerosis and varicose veins. Atherosclerosis is a buildup of plaque inside the arteries; symptoms include elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath upon exertion, elevated heart rate and fatigue. Certain chemical elements of the bilberry plant can help improve eye health and protect the eyes from disease. According to the book “100 Super Supplements for a Longer Life,” by Frank Murray, bilberry protects collagen structures found in the eyes. Bilberry can prevent and treat macular degeneration and retinopathy. Macular degeneration occurs when the macula, a portion of the eye that provides vision for clarity and detail, begins to break down. Retinopathy is damage to the retina of the eye. The retina is the portion of the eye that relays what is seen to the brain.
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