Love High-Fat Foods? Counteract Adverse Effects With Wild Blueberries

If you love foods high in fats, wild blueberries may be your new best friend. Nordic wild blueberries (also known as bilberries, whortleberries, European blueberries, or scientifically as Vaccinium myrtillus) have the ability to counter blood pressure and inflammatory responses caused by high-fat diets, according to scientists from the University of Eastern Finland. Wild blueberries contain drastically higher levels of anthocyanins than cultivated blueberries found at the grocery store, according to Medical News Today. Anthocyanins are polyphenols that are associated with numerous health benefits.

Nordic wild blueberries have been used to treat diabetes, gout, osteoarthritis, skin infections, kidney disease, varicose veins, hardening of the arteries, chest pains, and UTIs, according to Medical News Today. Treatment for these issues with wild blueberries has shown up in earlier research, but has not been approved by the FDA. These wild blueberries have been used for a thousand years in traditional European medicine. Earlier research at the University of Leicester found that a wild blueberry extract reduced colorectal tumors in all patients by 7 percent during the span of the research study. Anthocyanins from these wild blueberries are believed to help with “poor night vision, macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts,” according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, which also stated that in human colon and liver cancer cell lines, the components in the wild blueberries “demonstrated intracellular antioxidant activity even though concentrations applied were very low” and that the wild blueberries can “inhibit human leukemia, colon, and breast cancer cells.”

New research published in PLOS ONE has shown for the first time that the wild blueberries can fight against obesity-related inflammation and high blood pressure that can accompany high-fat diets. In the study, mice were fed diets high in fat. A sampling of the mice were also fed the wild blueberries along with the high-fat diet. Then, the researchers at the University of Finland “measured inflammatory cell and cytokine levels, systolic blood pressure, glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity and weight gain,” according to Medical News Today. The mice that were fed the wild blueberries along with their high-fat diets had a less inflammation-supporting T-cells than the mice who were not fed the wild blueberries. The wild blueberries also appeared to prevent the mice from developing high blood pressure.

The researchers concluded that the wild blueberries “reduce the development of systemic inflammation and prevent the progression of chronic hypertension, thus supporting their potential role in alleviating the adverse health effects associated with developing obesity.”

These wild blueberries are native to Europe, Greenland, northern Asia, and parts of the United States and Canada.

[Photo by Katarzyna Matylla]