Blueberries vs. bilberries – is there a difference? We’ve all more than likely seen and eaten the humble blueberry, but bilberries are a little less familiar, at least in North America. Bilberry is a European relative of the blueberry and looks very similar in shape and size. One main difference however is the flesh – blueberries have a white and slightly powdery inside, while bilberries have a juicier, blue-purple flesh. Some studies show that the active component found in bilberries, anthocyanin, can provide up to ten times the protection of vitamin C and fifty times the antioxidant protection of vitamin E. Although they may be small, they are indeed mighty! The natural antioxidants found in bilberries may help blood vessels to stay strong and flexible, while helping to enhance blood supply to the nervous system. Not only are the berries themselves rich in nutrients, but bilberry leaves may also provide some health benefits, as they contain a compound called glucoquinine that studies have shown may help to support healthy blood sugar levels. Research has also found they may posses anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic effects. However, bilberry may be most well known for it’s ability to support eye health. When fresh fruits are unavailable, bilberry supplements are the next best option, so make sure you look for one that has no fillers, binders or chemical additives. Typically bilberry supplements are recommended anywhere from 60-280mg/day.
(1) Balch, P. (2010). Prescription for nutritional healing. New York: Avery.
(2) Wartian Smith, P. (2008). What you must know about vitamins, minerals, herbs & more. Garden City Park, NY:Square One Publishers.