Blueberry vs. Bilberry – What is the Difference?

Blueberry and Bilberry: they look almost alike. Both of them are blue, round and taste great. But what are the differences between these two berries? If any? Lets get started…

Naming:

“Blueberry” has become a universal name for blue-coloured berries of the Vaccinium family. Though the term blueberry is widely used, it is still good to know the difference between blueberries (often American Blueberries) and bilberries (European Blueberries) both in naming and characteristics.

Bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus
– Also known as (Wild) European Blueberry and Whortleberry

Blueberry, various plants in the Vaccinium family
– Also known often as American Blueberry

What do Bilberries look like and where do they grow?

First of all, while blueberries are cultivated in bushes in various places around the world, wild bilberries grow on small shrubs and mainly at the northern parts of the Northern Hemisphere (known as the taiga zone and the subarctic zone). In Europe, this area is located in Scandinavia or the Nordic countries.

Are there health benefits associated with Bilberries?

The top trumps of wild Nordic bilberry include:
– higher vitamin C content than in cultivated blueberry
– higher vitamin E content than in cultivated blueberry
– very high content of anthocyanin, multiple times higher than in cultivated blueberry

The anthocyanins in wild bilberry are visible to the eye as blue and red pigments. While blueberry is white and slightly powdery from the inside, bilberry‘s contents are juicy bluish purple. Anthocyanins are a form of flavonoids, and they have been scientifically proven to be linked with positive health benefits.

Finnish researchers have also found that the further north wild bilberries grow the more anthocyanins they contain. In 2007, laboratory-based evidence was provided to demonstrate potential health effects of berry anthocyanins against:
– cancer
– aging and neurological diseases
– inflammation
– diabetes
– bacterial infections
– fibrocystic disease

Further research into these possible health benefits is on-going. It is important to keep in mind that these health benefits are based on initial research and does not mean that consumption of bilberries will help avoid said conditions like cancer.

Additionally, there has been some scientific debate about whether large daily consumption of bilberries helps to produce new brain cells. While the connection between anthocyanins and new brain cells has not yet been proven, nevertheless Finnish nutrition experts recommend consuming lots of bilberries to elderly people, especially those showing early Alzheimer symptoms.

There are also other health benefits advocated by various sources, such as improvement of vision, but these claims lack clinical evidence. However, it is clear that bilberries are beneficial to ones health and has much higher concentration of vitamins and antioxidants compared to cultivated blueberries.

Bottom-line

The healthy and nutrient-rich wild bilberries grow naturally in the wild and are generally picked by hand. They are often considered as superfood, or superberries, of Northern Europe and are an integral part of Scandinavian and Nordic diet. The wild bilberry products sold in Hiisi Shop are made of Finnish bilberries, which is as far north as it gets. Our primary supplier is located in the Kainuu region, which is located on the southern edge of the Finnish Lapland.

Dried Bilberries (50 g)
Bilberry Powder (30 g)
Chocolate Bilberry (100 g)

Sources:

http://www.arktisetaromit.fi/fi/arktiset+aromit/marjat/luonnonmarjat/mustikka/
http://yle.fi/uutiset/pohjoisessa_kasvanut_mustikka_on_terveellisin/5342907
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthocyanin
http://www.iltasanomat.fi/terveys/art-1288366196748.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaccinium_myrtillus

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