Taking Bilberries May Benefit Patients Who Recently Had an Acute Myocardial Infarction

BACKGROUND: Bilberries, Vaccinium myrtillus, have a high content of phenolic compounds including anthocyanins, which could provide cardiometabolic health benefits following acute myocardial infarction (AMI). We hypothesized that standard medical therapy supplemented with freeze-dried bilberry after AMI would have a more beneficial effect on cardiovascular risk markers and exercise capacity than medical therapy alone. Patients were allocated in a 1:1 ratio within 24 hours of percutaneous coronary intervention in an 8-week trial either to V myrtillus powder (40 g/d, equivalent to 480 g fresh bilberries) and standard medical therapy or to a control group receiving standard medical therapy alone. High-sensitivity C-reactive protein and exercise capacity measured with the 6-minute walk test were the primary biochemical and clinical end points, respectively. Fifty subjects completed the study. No statistically significant difference in high-sensitivity C-reactive protein was detected between groups. The mean 6-minute walk test distance increased significantly more in the bilberry group compared to the control group: mean difference 38 m at follow-up (95% confidence interval 14-62, P = .003). Ex vivo oxidized low-density lipoprotein was significantly lowered in the bilberry group compared to control, geometric mean ratio 0.80 (95% confidence interval 0.66-0.96, P = .017), whereas total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol did not differ significantly between groups. Anthocyanin-derived metabolites in blood increased significantly in the bilberry group during the intervention and were different after 8 weeks between the bilberry group and control. Findings in the present study suggest that bilberries may have clinically relevant beneficial effects following AMI; a larger, double-blind clinical trial is warranted to confirm this.

Arevström L, et al. Freeze-dried bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) dietary supplement improves walking distance and lipids after myocardial infarction: an open-label randomized clinical trial. Nutr Res. 2019 Feb;62:13-22. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2018.11.008. Epub 2018 Nov 17.