A single supplement of a standardised bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) extract (36 % wet weight anthocyanins) modifies glycaemic response in individuals with type 2 diabetes controlled by diet and lifestyle

J Nutr Sci. 2013 Jul 24;2:e22. doi: 10.1017/jns.2013.16. eCollection 2013.


Dietary strategies for alleviating health complications associated with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are being pursued as alternatives to pharmaceutical interventions. Berries such as bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) that are rich in polyphenols may influence carbohydrate digestion and absorption and thus postprandial glycaemia. In addition, berries have been reported to alter incretins as well as to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may also affect postprandial glycaemia. The present study investigated the acute effect of a standardised bilberry extract on glucose metabolism in T2D. Male volunteers with T2D (n 8; BMI 30 (sd 4) kg/m(2)) controlling their diabetes by diet and lifestyle alone were given a single oral capsule of either 0·47 g standardised bilberry extract (36 % (w/w) anthocyanins) which equates to about 50 g of fresh bilberries or placebo followed by a polysaccharide drink (equivalent to 75 g glucose) in a double-blinded cross-over intervention with a 2-week washout period. The ingestion of the bilberry extract resulted in a significant decrease in the incremental AUC for both glucose (P = 0·003) and insulin (P = 0·03) compared with the placebo. There was no change in the gut (glucagon-like peptide-1, gastric inhibitory polypeptide), pancreatic (glucagon, amylin) or anti-inflammatory (monocyte chemotactic protein-1) peptides. In addition there was no change in the antioxidant (Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity, ferric-reducing ability of plasma) responses measured between the volunteers receiving the bilberry extract and the placebo. In conclusion the present study demonstrates for the first time that the ingestion of a concentrated bilberry extract reduces postprandial glycaemia and insulin in volunteers with T2D. The most likely mechanism for the lower glycaemic response involves reduced rates of carbohydrate digestion and/or absorption.

Keywords: AUCi, incremental AUC; Anthocyanins; Bilberries; FRAP, ferric-reducing ability of plasma; GIP, gastric inhibitory polypeptide; GLP-1, glucagon-like peptide-1; Glycaemic response; MCP-1, monocyte chemotactic protein-1; OGTT, oral glucose tolerance test; T2D, type 2 diabetes; TEAC, Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity; Type 2 diabetes.