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What is Bilberry?

Bilberry has been used for centuries, both medicinally and as a food in jams and pies. It is a perennial shrub that is found in various climates in damp woodlands. In the U.S. it is also known as huckleberry, and there are over one hundred different species with similar fruit throughout Europe, Asia and North America. The British call it whortleberry and the Scottish call it blaeberry. It has been used as a medicinal herb since the 16th century. The berries were called black-hearts in 19th century southwestern England, according to Thomas Hardy’s 1878 novel The Return of the Native. In several other languages its name translates as "blueberry" and this is often cause for confusion with the related plant know as Blueberry.

One characteristic of bilberries is that they produce single or paired berries on the bush instead of clusters, as the blueberry does. Blueberries have more evergreen leaves. Bilberries are also softer and juicier than blueberries, making them difficult to transport.Because of these factors, the bilberry is only available fresh on markets and in gourmet stores for the most part.

Bilberry's Benefits for Skin

Bilberry fruit contains chemicals known as anthocyanosides, plant pigments with excellent antioxidant properties that help to prevent or reverse damage to cells caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are also known to fight a number of long-term illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and an eye disorder called macular degeneration. Bilberry also contains vitamin C, which is another antioxidant. As such, Bilberries are often used as a tonic or in skin care products to prevent infections and skin diseases.

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