Bilberry extract prevents hardening of blood vessels

Bilberry extracts can prevent the build up of plaques in the arteries, thereby preventing hardening of blood vessels and boosting overall heart health reveals a new study in France.

In the study, the fermented bilberry extract, out-performed the standard extract, prompting the French researchers to suggest that yeast fermentation produces new bioactive compounds with heart health effects.

Researchers performed the study on mice, segregating them into three groups. All groups were fed with standard control diet, but two of the groups received one of two bilberry extracts. One rich in anthocyanin extracted from untreated bilberries, and the other extracted from yeast-fermented bilberries.

After 16 weeks, it was noticed that there was considerable inhibition in development of plaques pertaining to atherosclerosis in both bilberry groups.

Lead researcher, Aurelie Mauray, said that the yeast-fermented bilberries extract exerts more effective anti-atherogenic activity than the anthocyanin-rich bilberry extract, which suggests that fermentation generates new compounds with better health-boosting properties, in comparison to the anthocyanin-rich standaridized extract.

Atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries) is the major cause for cardiovascular disease.

Bilberries are closely associated to the North American blueberry, but contain a distinct anthocyanin profile. Both leaves and the ripe fruit of bilberry have been used as folk remedy for treating diabetes since ancient times.

Bilberry was recommended for diabetics, as the constituents in berries help in improving the strength and integrity of blood vessels and reduces damage to the vessels associated with diabetes and other diseases, such as atherosclerosis. The berries contain flavonoids, the compounds found in the pigment of several plants. The flavonoid anthocyanin protects body tissues, particularly the blood vessels from oxidizing agents in the blood.

Bilberry preparations are also useful in treating eye conditions, such as diabetic retinopathy, cataracts, degeneration, night blindness, and degeneration of macula.