A new study shows that a purple berry lowers blood sugar levels in mice. Could it be a natural way to help diabetics?
Diabetes is an all too common disease. About seven percent of Americans has it, but the number of people diagnosed with this condition continues to rise. Plus, there are people who have blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but who don’t quite meet the criterion for a diabetes diagnosis. These people need to bring their glucose levels down to avoid developing a full-blown case of diabetes. Now, a new study shows there’s a little purple berry that could help these people lower their blood sugar levels naturally.
The Purple Berry That Lowers Blood Sugar Levels Naturally
In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers feed one group of mice a regular diet and another group a diet supplemented with bilberry extract for five weeks. At the completion of the five week study, they found that the mice that had been given the bilberry extract not only had lower blood sugar levels, but also had increased insulin sensitivity as well.
How Do Bilberries Increase Insulin Sensitivity?
How does bilberry extract increase insulin sensitivity and lower blood sugar levels? Researchers believe that a component in the bilberry fruit alters proteins that stimulate insulin secretion and promote fat metabolism. The component in the bilberry that appears to lower blood sugar levels naturally are the anthocyanins – natural plant pigments that are also found in purple foods such as red cabbage, blueberries, and beets. Researchers believe that the particular type of anthocyanins found in bilberries may have some unique properties that naturally lower blood sugar levels.
The Health Benefits of Bilberries
Munching on bilberries may offer other health benefits. Some studies show they help to protect the eyes against against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. The anthocyanins in bilberries may also lower the risk of heart disease and reduce the risk of certain types of cancer. By lowering blood sugar levels naturally, they could help in the fight against diabetes.
Where Do You Get Bilberry Extract?
Although bilberries look and taste much like blueberries, they’re harder to find and can be quite expensive. Bilberry extracts are available at many health food stores, but dyes are sometimes used to mimic the color of bilberries – making the product worthless from a health standpoint. Bilberry extracts should always be purchased from a reputable distributor. One caution. Bilberry extract can have side effects due to its anti-platelet effects. It should never be used with aspirin or other blood thinning medications. Some people also experience stomach upset and a rash when taking bilberry extract.
Should You Take Bilberry Extract?
Before using bilberry extract to lower blood sugar levels naturally, keep in mind that this study was done in mice and the same benefits may not be seen in humans. For this reason, it’s best to wait until more research comes out before using it. Bilberry extract looks promising, but more studies are needed. Until then, get your anthocyanins from purple fruits and vegetables instead.