So what’s the difference between a billberry and a blueberry? They’re both blue. They’re both tasty. And they’re both good for you. But compared to their more well-known sibling, wild-grown European bilberries (also known as Vaccinium myrtillus) are more intensely sweet and have much more delicate skins.
Since the early Middle Ages, dried and fresh bilberry leaves and fruit have been used for managing diabetic concerns, gastrointestinal complaints, and urinary system infections. There’s also evidence that bilberry may help alleviate eye fatigue caused by extensive computer and video monitor use.
Extracts of bilberry are used to address age-related degeneration in the circulatory systems and diseases where inflammation is a strong underlying factor, such as heart disease and retinopathy. Bilberry fruit contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, thanks to their anthocyanoside (aka anthocyanidins). These plant pigments act as powerful antioxidants and may help protect the body from the damaging effects of inflammation and oxidative stress.
Adding bilberry to your daily diet is a delicious way to enjoy its health protective benefits. Incorporate a cup per day of fresh bilberries by topping off yogurt, oatmeal, or salad with fresh bilberry. For a delicious tea, simmer 1 Tb. dried berries in 2 c. of water for 20 minutes; strain and drink.
For specific health concerns, extracts of bilberry are available in capsule and tincture, both of which should be standardized to contain a specific percent of anthocyanins. Check with your health practitioner for the appropriate extract for your medical needs.