Bilberries often referred to as Vaccinium myrtillus are closely related to Blueberries but are very different from them. It is a small shrub that comes from the family of Ericaceae. They are the local plants of Europe and have long medicinal histories. They are also densely found in Ireland, Poland, Finland, Austria, Sweden, Norway and also Iceland. Bilberries are known by many other names including blueberry, whinberry, myrtle blueberry, fraughan and others. They grow very well in acidic soil which does not contain any nutrients and adapt itself to the temperate and subarctic climate of the world. This shrub has small fruits that are nearly black in colour and are grown in pairs rather than clusters. The fruits are delicious and very rarely cultivated as they are immensely difficult to grow. When eaten raw, it leaves heavy stains in lips, hands and tongue due to high concentration of anthocyanins present in the fruits. They are often processed into jams, jellies, fruit fool and pies.
As stated earlier that Bilberries have long medicinal histories, some of the health benefits are written below:
- Bilberries are renowned for improving eyesight, including night vision, cataracts and retina disorders. This usage is vividly described in the story of World War II of the pilots consuming bilberries to enhance their night vision power.
- The anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants which makes the blood vessels and capillary walls stronger. It also increases the count of the red blood cells.
- The leave extract lowers the blood pressure and has a positive impact on the cholesterol level.
- It also refines the varicose veins, spider veins and skin sores.
- It is a good medicine for anti-aging treatment.
- The shrub contains tannins which treats diarrhea, gastrointestinal ailments, and sore throat and reduce swelling.
- It blocks the growth of tumor cells and even prevent from cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, gout and kidney diseases.
- The flavonoids present in the berries improve the circulation of blood throughout the body.
- Other benefits include tissue firmness, tighten mucous membranes and relieve irritation.
There are very slight possible side effects of Bilberries. Some are given below:
- Taking bilberries with blood sugar medications may lower your count to a greater degree. Stop eating bilberry if you are a diabetic.
- It may cause some allergic reactions like inflammation of lips or tongue or difficulty in breathing.
- It may also slow down blood to clot and interact with blood-thinning medicines like warfarin.
- Other effects are reverse eye disorders, muscle spasm and weight reduction.
Ways to prepare
Bilberries are famous for making pies and desserts. These fruits are also used in the making of tarts and liquors. Bilberry pie with cream, Bilberry gin, Bilberry-lemon loaf cakes, bilberry crumble ice cream, Bilberry tart and others are the mouth-watering recipes that can dominant your diet plan as they are very easy to make and bake.
Bilberry gets the rich colour from the anthocyanins which are a pH indicator. The extracts are used to make indelible ink for stamping food products. They are available for almost throughout the year but their softness makes them difficult for transport from one place to another. They are mostly collected from forests and are readily available at gourmet stores.