Blueberry vs Bilberry: What’s the Difference?

Blueberries and bilberries are so similar looking that they’re often confused. Chances are, if you’re in the U.S. you probably haven’t even heard of a bilberry. So what’s the difference?

What is a blueberry?


Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

Blueberries are native to the United States and have been a staple fruit in the American diet since at least the 1920s.

Blueberries contain anthocyanin, a flavonoid pigment that can appear as blue, violet, or red. Anthocyanins found in blueberries contain two to six times the amount of antioxidants found in other fruits.

According to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, blueberries are one of the richest fruit sources of antioxidants. “On a fresh weight basis, blueberries have the highest antioxidant capacity of all the fresh fruits and vegetables tested to date.”

Antioxidants combat oxidative stress caused by free radicals.

Excessive free radicals form when we’re exposed to dangers of modern living, such as fatty acids in food, air pollution, sunbathing, environmental toxins, smoke, and alcohol.

Prolonged oxidative stress leads to problems such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and accelerated aging.

Learn more about antioxidants in our “Guide to Antioxidants” blog post.

What is a bilberry?

By Abrget47j – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons.wikimedia

Bilberries are native to Northern Europe.

Bilberries benefit eye health. During World War II, British pilots experienced a surprising improvement in night vision after eating bilberry jam before night bombing raids.

Bilberries contain anthocyanidin, which relates to visual purple (also known as rhodopsin), a biological pigment found in the rods of the retina. 

The heightened night vision the British pilots experienced led to an interest in the impact of anthocyanidins on eye conditions.

Bilberries contain four times the amount of anthocyanidin content as blueberries. The anthocyanidins in bilberries provide support for night vision by nourishing the visual purple in the retina.

Bilberries are a regular part of nutritional eye care throughout Europe.

Why do I need blueberries and bilberries?

Blueberries can protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and accelerated aging.

Bilberries may help prevent cancer, macular degeneration and heart disease.

Both berries are low in sugar, packed full of antioxidants, and taste great. There’s no downside to eating them!

Where can I find blueberries and bilberries?

You can find blueberries in just about any grocery store in America. Bilberries, on the other hand, are mostly found in Europe. They aren’t as commonly found fresh because they tend to squish easily.

Tranont Health’s ICARIA Glow contains both blueberry and bilberry extract, so you can get the benefits of both berries.

Sources:

Gold, C. (2011, August 17). Bilberry Vs. Blueberry. Retrieved from https://www.livestrong.com/article/511259-bilberry-vs-blueberry/

McKnight, C. (2014, January 7). Bilberry Vs. Blueberry. Retrieved from https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/bilberry-vs-blueberry-10830.html

Prior, R. L., Cao, G., Martin, A., Sofic, E., McEwen, J., O’Brien, C., … Lischner, N. (1998, June 19). Antioxidant Capacity As Influenced by Total Phenolic and Anthocyanin Content, Maturity, and Variety of Vaccinium Species. Retrieved from https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf980145d?journalCode=jafcau

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