Bilberries, at first glance, look almost exactly like blueberries. Indeed, the bilberry is closely related to the blueberry, but it is still a different fruit. It’s very dark blue, almost black, and it grows on short shrubs. To differentiate the bilberry shrub from the blueberry shrub, simply look at how the berry itself grows. Blueberries grow in clusters, while bilberries grow singly or occasionally in pairs. The bilberry typically grows in cold places, and can thus be found in temperate and subarctic regions. These are particularly plentiful in Nordic countries. As a fruit, the bilberry can be eaten in several ways: fresh, or incorporated into jams, juices, sorbets, liqueurs, teas, and so on. In addition to its many uses, the bilberry is also packed with nutrients that are beneficial to the human body.
The bilberry, scientifically known as the Vaccinium myrtillus, goes by many names, varying across the regions it is native to: black whortles, airelle, bleaberry, brimbelle, dyeberry, feuille de mrtille, gueule noir, raisin de bois, trackleberry,wineberry, and so on. In some European countries, the bilberry is called a name that literally translates to English as ‘blue berry,’ but it should not be confused with what the North Americans call the blueberry.
Due to its properties, bilberries will benefit a lot of people. Its most celebrated benefit is improvement of vision, so those who are suffering from various eye conditions (such as glaucoma) will benefit from the bilberry. Those who have issues with their arteries, tendons, and other tissues will also greatly benefit from the consumption of bilberry.
Among the benefits of the bilberry are the following:
- Improves eyesight, night vision in particular
- Prevents cataracts
- Treats urinary tract infection
- Lowers risk of cardiovascular disease
- Enhances blood circulation
Legend has it that the reason why Royal Air Force pilots back in World War II were always so adept at flying even during the night is because of bilberries. The pilots would consume bilberry jam before they take off, and it resulted in their night vision being vastly improved. Even today, the bilberry is hailed for its ability to improve not just night vision, but for treating various eye conditions. Cataracts and macular degeneration are the two primary culprits for blindness, and the bilberry has been shown to reverse these conditions.
For its eyesight-improving benefits alone, the bilberry is definitely worth trying. However, its benefits do not end there, and anyone whether suffering from any condition or not will definitely be able to glean something from the consumption of bilberries.