The Wild Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) is a deciduous shrub with edible fruit of a blue colour similar to blueberries. The plant is native to Central and Northern Europe. Wild bilberries resemble ordinary blueberries, but unlike blueberries they do not grow in clusters and their colour is also a little darker.
One of the leading marketers of forestry and horticultural products in the Baltic States and Nordic countries is Berry Group OÜ, whose main clients are food and pharmaceutical industries. Wild bilberries are one of the most important products of the company in addition to cowberries and cranberries.
Wild bilberries have many health benefits – eating the berries promotes balance in the body and helps avoid many common illnesses and diseases.
People have been eating berries for a very long time, and in addition to eating wild bilberries our ancestors also used them for medical purposes, to slow down the aging process and to achieve overall health balance. Wild bilberries contain large quantities of strong antioxidants, including flavonoids and anthocyanins, which is why they have been used in European popular medicine for more than a thousand years.
Anthocyanins destroy the free radicals found in the human body, strengthen capillaries and improve general blood supply, which is why wild bilberries are used to treat and prevent diseases associated with the circulatory system and blood supply.
Wild bilberries have also been used to prevent the deterioration of the circulatory system and platelets due to their ability to improve tissue binding. Good blood supply is essential for good health and living life to the full. Eating bilberries also promotes the functioning of the coronary artery and keeps it from clotting, as it reduces fat deposits in the body.
During the Second World War the pilots of the British Royal Air Force ate bilberries to keep their vision sharp and see better in the dark during night missions – the berries improve sharpness of vision by protecting rhodopsin or visual purple and help the eyes adjust to darkness as well as to the bright light of day.
Wild bilberries are used to fight eye diseases such as glaucoma, myopia and cataracts. They also help diabetics whose eyesight has deteriorated as a result of their disease.
As health issues associated with blood supply are becoming an increasingly more serious concern in our urbanising society and most people’s eyesight deteriorates at a certain age even if they are physically fit, we should consider this in our diet – and what could be better than eating nice fresh berries to improve your health!