Like many fruits, billberry is chock full of vitamins and minerals; however, more and more, people are noticing it for its other health benefits, most notably its effects on the eyes. Similar to the blueberry, billberry has several properties and uses that make it an essential fruit.
Billberry fruit grows on shrubs that are low to the ground. Comparable to North American wild blueberries and huckleberries, this fruit enjoys damp, acidic soil and thrives in a temperate or subarctic climate. Bilberries are seldom cultivated, as they're difficult to grow.
Although they're similar in taste to blueberries, billberries are smaller and appear black with a slight shade of blue. Like other fruits, many people consume billberries for their sweet taste and fresh flavor. In France and Italy, billberries are used as a base for liqueurs. In addition, other European countries use the billberry as a flavoring for sorbets or other desserts, like crepes and tarts.
Effects on the eyes
Billberries are perhaps most noted for their positive effect on the eyes. Legend has it that World War II Royal Air Force pilots ate billberry jam to help improve night vision. The United States Navy, however, found no effects on night vision. Nevertheless, proponents of the billberry point to the fact that it contains rhodopsin, which is a pigment that improves night vision and helps the eye to adapt to changes in lighting. Other lab studies have shown that inclusion of billberry in one's diet might inhibit or reverse eye disorders like macular degeneration.
Other health benefits
Billberries contain anthocyanosides, which are plant pigments known for their antioxidant properties. These antioxidants find free radicals and help prevent or even reverse negative damage already done to cells. In addition, these antioxidants might prevent blood platelets from clumping together. While not many studies have been conducted on billberry itself, the antioxidants found in billberry have been shown to reduce heart disease and cancer. Billberry has also been shown to have positive effects on people with diabetes, because it lowers blood pressure over a short period of time.
Because it's a fruit, adding billberry to your diet is fairly easy. Like other fruits, you can eat billberries raw or dried. Some consumers have even found benefits from billberry tea with a 25% concentration of anthocyanosides. Because billberries contain tannins, which is a substance that helps reduce inflammation, it' s not recommended that billberry be taken over a long period of time, as the tannins might build up and cause negative effects. Always check with your doctor before you begin to attempt to treat yourself with herbs or plants.