Bilberry vs. Blueberry: Bilberries and blueberries are often confused in everyday life. Both have a dark bluish, smooth skin and are similar in size, the bilberry being slightly smaller. Bilberries have been popular in Europe for centuries, and blueberries were first widely grown in the U.S. in the 1920s. Both fruits deliver big nutritional benefits. According to a University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center study, their antioxidants may even portend dramatic benefits for serious health conditions.
Bilberries grow like flowers, one or two to a stem.
The bilberry has historical uses since the 16th century based upon both the dried berries and leaves of this shrub. Modern interest stems in part from the fruit’s use by British pilots in World War II, when pilots noticed night vision improvement after eating bilberry jam prior to night bombing raids. In the six-plus decades since, scientists have discovered that the bioflavonoids in bilberries are potent antioxidants. In Europe, where bilberry cultivation originated, bilberry extracts are a normal part of nutritional health care for the eyes.
Highbush blueberry and lowbush blueberry are the primary species of blueberries the U.S. food industry uses. Blueberries are one of the richest sources of antioxidant phytonutrients among fresh fruits and vegetables, according to the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.