Hailing from the Scandinavian region of northern Europe, Lingonberries, the fruit of the evergreen shrub Vaccinium vitis-idaea
, are small red berries similar to cranberries but with a less tarty flavor. They're often made into a juice that's diluted with a bit of water.
Also known as bearberries, redberries, partridgeberries or Alaskan lowbush cranberries, lingonberries
have been hailed as a superfruit based on their nutritional value and potential health benefits. In particular, the berries have been said to be good for weight control and heart health.
Two studies, in particular, shines a new light on these properties, showing that lingonberries have the capacity to help lower blood pressure and prevent obesity
Lingonberries lower blood pressure, fight obesity
The first study, the doctoral thesis
of Anne Kivimäki from the University of Helsinki
, tested the effects of cold-pressed juices from lingonberries, as well as cranberries and blackcurrants
, on genetically hypertensive
rats. These fruits were chosen because they were rich in polyphenols – chemical compounds known to reduce the risk of heart disease.
Among the fruits, lingonberry juice demonstrated the best results when it came to reducing blood pressure and repairing impaired blood vessels in the rats.
In the course of the study, Kivimäki found that the juice was able to prevent the expression of genes linked with low-grade inflammation in the subjects' aorta. This was one of the main reasons for the decrease in the rats' blood pressure.
"These experimental findings need evidence from comparative clinical studies on healthy individuals with slightly elevated blood pressure who, at this point, have been given nutritional and lifestyle guidance instead of drug therapy. Lingonberry juice is no substitute for medication, but it is a good dietary supplement," said Kivimäki.
The second study, done by researchers from Lund University
in Sweden, found out that lingonberries have the ability to fully or partially prevent
the negative metabolic effects of a high-fat diet -- particularly obesity.
In this study, researchers fed mice with low-fat, high-far diets for 13 weeks. Of those on the high-fat diet, some were also supplemented with berries such as lingonberry, blackcurrant, bilberry, raspberry, acai
, crowberry, prune and blackberry. These berries comprised 20 percent of the mice's diet.
After the test period, the researchers found out that the mice on a high-fat diet supplemented with berries gained less weight and had lower fasting insulin levels, compared to those who were fed a high-fat diet alone. More importantly, those who were fed lingonberries were observed to have the best results. The team proposed the possible use of lingonberries in preventing obesity and other related health conditions.
Their study was published in the Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism.
Health benefits of lingonberries
Lingonberries are nutrient-rich superfoods that can provide you with a plethora of health benefits. On top of lowering your blood pressure and keeping your body weight down, they also provide benefits for your eyes and your gut among others. Here are some of the other health benefits of lingonberries.
- Rich in antioxidants - Lingonberries are notable for their high amount of antioxidants and other plant compounds. One serving of lingonberries provides 10 and 12 percent of the recommended daily values (DV) for the antioxidant vitamins E and C, respectively. In addition, it is also rich in antioxidants, anthocyanins and flavonoids.
- Promotes gut health - The bacteria in your digestive tract – your gut microbiota – are a key factor when it comes to your health. Studies show that eating lingonberries can help increase the numbers of certain species of gut bacteria that can keep your gut lining healthy.
- May promotes healthy blood sugar levels - Studies suggest that lingonberries and lingonberry extract may help control your blood sugar levels. These studies attribute these to the berry's high polyphenol and fiber content.
- May protect eye health -Test-tube studies suggest that lingonberries and lingonberry extract can protect the cells in your retina from free radical damage from ultraviolet light. The studies attribute this to the berry's high anthocyanin content.
- May reduce cancer risk - As with most fruits, lingonberries provide fiber, vitamins and plant compounds that may reduce your risk of cancer. In particular, one animal study found that mice prone to intestinal tumors that were fed freeze-dried lingonberry powder had 60 percent smaller and 30 percent fewer tumors compared to those who were not.
Lingonberries are a wonderful and tasty fruit that can provide your body with many health benefits. Should you get the chance, try incorporating this superfood
into your diet so you can experience all the benefits lingonberries can provide.