There is a well-known saying that “a blueberry closes the doctor’s door”, which tells us a lot about the value of this berry. Blueberries have been used to treat many different illnesses for centuries. They help you fall asleep, and they also have anti-inflammatory properties and strengthen the immune system.
Fresh blueberries help against constipation and dried blueberries alleviate diarrhoea. They have this effect due to their high tannin content. Tannins also bind heavy metals, making it harder for the body to absorb and store them. It is for this reason that consuming blueberries with medicines is not recommended, as the tannins in the berries reduce the absorption of medicines into the body.
Pigments are a highly valuable ingredient of blueberries. Particular attention is given to their blue pigment, which together with vitamin C and iron promotes haematopoiesis and keeps blood vessels elastic, especially in the brain and eyes. This is why blueberries are so good for people who suffer from night blindness or are sensitive to light. Many studies confirm that blueberries protect the vision pigments, optic nerves and the cells in the retina, thereby giving a boost to eyes that tend to tire easily. Blueberries also slow down the aging process, alleviate diabetes and promote the absorption of glucose in the body.
Various studies have revealed that the substances contained in blueberries help prevent thrombi, strengthen and expand blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. The substances concealed in blueberries also offer protection against various diseases of the nervous system such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The substances in blueberries also slow the breakdown of the ‘feel-good hormone’ oxytocin.
It has been known for a long time that berries help fight bacteria. They don’t allow bacteria to attach themselves to human cells and promote their excretion. Blueberry juice is good against coliform bacteria. This is why eating blueberries every day is recommended. Half a glass of blueberries provides as many antioxidants as 4-5 glasses of any other fruit. Blueberries also have a calming effect.
Blueberries are great for your health and taste delicious, too. They are one of the most popular berries that people eat. In addition to their great appearance and taste, they also have wonderful medicinal properties. It is well known that eating blueberries makes you stronger and protects you from illness.
There is obviously no need to explain what blueberries look like. However, we may need to talk about distinguishing them from bog bilberries (another natural species that belongs to the genus Vaccinium). These two plants are rather different from each other. First of all, blueberry plants are light green, while bog bilberry plants are blue-green in colour. Secondly, blueberries are dark blue or almost black, but bog bilberries are clearly light blue. The shape of the berries is also slightly different: blueberries are round; bog bilberries are oblong. Thirdly, the shoots of blueberries differ from those of bog bilberries, being light green and sharply square in shape in the first three or four years. Lastly, bog bilberry shrubs are much bigger than blueberry shrubs.
Blueberries taste better than bog bilberries and they are also more valuable to your health. Blueberries are among the best berries found in our forests, and in July you always see people picking them in good blueberry areas. They have an impressive range of uses: they can be used to make jam, juice, kissel or compote. However, fresh blueberries are the best. They are often eaten with sugar and milk. The berries can also be dried. To do this, the berries must first be left in the sun in a single layer for a couple of days. They are then brought inside and dried on a stove, in an over or in a drier. The drying temperature should not be higher than 60 °C, as many of the good substances in the berries perish at higher temperatures. Blueberries that have been processed like this are used as medicine. They help treat various digestive disorders – including the simple but extremely uncomfortable diarrhoea. They have this effect because they contain tannins. Blueberries and the leaves of the blueberry shrub can also be used in leather tanning due to their high tannin content. The leaves, which contain more tannins than the berries, are used as medicine.
Deep-freezing blueberries is the fastest and easiest way of preserving the berries, guaranteeing that they don’t lose their flavour, aroma, bioenergy or nutritional value. Frozen blueberries keep until the next harvest and are also much easier to transport than fresh ones. Frozen blueberries can be packaged in plastic bags, boxes, buckets etc. Deep-freezing is the easiest way of preserving berries and their nutritional value. Frozen blueberries are widely used in the food and pharmaceutical industries because of their nutritional value and qualities. They are used in yoghurt, cakes, curds and more. The pharmaceutical industry uses frozen blueberries to make medicines.
Frozen blueberries have become very popular. The temperatures used to deep-freeze the berries are sufficiently low (mostly -25°C or lower), as freezing at such a temperature causes minimal damage to the plant cells. Flash-freezing is used to freeze the berries, as it creates smaller ice crystals, which cause less damage to the tissue structure. When a ‘slowly’ frozen berry thaws, the cell fluids seep out from the tissue damaged by the ice crystals and the berries end up dry or sodden. Vitamins C, B1 and B2 are well preserved in flash-frozen berries. Also, freezing does not reduce mineral or fibre content. Research has shown that the quantity of one of the most reactive vitamins in deep-frozen berries – ascorbic acid or vitamin C– forms generally 80% of initial content. Deep-frozen blueberries must be stored at the right temperature. The most suitable temperature for preserving them is -18°C – at this temperature they can be kept in a freezer for up to a year.
The best time to freeze blueberries is immediately after picking and cleaning, as the appearance and colour of the berries as well as their nutrients and therapeutic properties are then well preserved. High-quality blueberries are frozen.
Freezing blueberries is certainly the best and healthiest way of preserving and transporting the berries from an economic point of view. Scientists find that correctly frozen berries compete well with fresh berries in terms of their qualities.
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!