Bilberry is a fruit that can be found in the forests in the areas with temperate climate. It comes from the Ericaceae family and it is very close to other species. Bilberries are related to blueberries and cranberries. They are also known under the name myrtle blueberry or fraughan.
In the 19th century England they were actually romantically called black-hearts. The fruits can be eaten whole raw or they can be smashed into jams, juices or pies. They can also be turned into tea extract.
In Italy or France the bilberry extract is also used in liqueurs and in desserts. In UK they are mostly used in crepe juices and there is actually a nice Massif Central bilberry tart that is famous.
Bilberry is also used to improve the night vision. Many pilots that were flying night routes during the 2nd World War were eating large quantities of this fruit and it is said that they gained a better night visibility. US Navy has also used this trick.
Even if the topic is still controversial, many studies show that the consumption of such a fruit is highly effective in combating a lot of problems like macular degeneration, ulcers or blood pressure problems. It should be also taken along with lutein and vitamin E. it has been showed to stop the lens opacity in cataract patients if the fruit was administrated for at least 4 months.
The fruit has a large concentration of anthocyanin pigments, and these are known to lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases, cancer or diabetes. The fruit is great in immediately treating diarrhea and ulcer problems. It is also great in helping with reducing the inflammation and in strengthening the vessel walls. In skin diseases or infections the results have also been positive.
Photo source: charlie_cravero on Flickr