A 2011 Finnish study gave rats with high blood pressure lingonberry juice to drink for eight weeks. While the juice did not lower blood pressure, there was a striking benefit of protection for the inner linings of the animals’ blood vessels (called endothelial linings). The lingonberry helped the effect of a molecule called nitric oxide, which is needed to help the vessels relax. Most interestingly, this effect seemed to be stronger with the lingonberry over the cranberry and black currant. They found the lingonberry to have almost twice the phenols as the cranberry.
Lingonberry Human Study
Native Americans in North America have a history of using this berry to help those suffering with diabetes and cardiovascular illness. Modern research is starting to catch up with what the Native Americans already knew. A 2010 Canadian study with First Nation Cree subjects found that the lingonberry was able to reduce the effect of advanced glycation end-products (AGEs). AGEs are the byproduct of sugars and heated protein molecules in the body that accumulate in patients with high blood sugar. These AGEs contribute to the damage in a diabetic’s vessels. This damage is a major contributor to kidney disease, eye disease and circulation problems that can lead to skin sores and amputation. Naturopathic treatments for diabetes include exercise, eating low glycemic index foods (low sugar content) that are cooked at low temperatures and are minimally processed, and blood-sugar-balancing herbs like gymnema and cinnamon. Now, it seems we can add lingonberry to this list.
Drink to Your Health
Although not well known in the United States, lingonberries are available in juice form in some health food stores. They can also be found in jams, and the berries can be bought frozen or in powdered form online. For our patients with diabetes, blood pressure challenges, and inflammatory concerns, we recommend taking a tablespoon or two of the frozen berries and adding them to one cup of non-sweetened almond milk with a three-quarter cup of ice; blend for a healthy flavonoid-rich treat!