That is the description of red bilberry by Russian people: “Its leaves are with glaze and berries are erubescent, the bushes are a bit higher than a hump”. There are many legends about this miraculous berry plant. Reb bilberry is very popular in Russia and people have been preserving it for winter since olden times. Here are the usual ways of preserving- steeping in barrels, drying, marinating and making jams.
In 1745, the Empress of Russia Elizabeth issued an edict of red bilberry cultivation. The red bilberry plantations appeared in the 1960s. Red bilberry can be commonly found in forests and taiga. The total area of berry-fields in Russia is about 11 mln he. According to the natural reserves, red bilberry takes the first place in Russia among other wild berries. Red bilberry is a cold resistant and tolerant; its lifespan is about 300 years! Moreover, this berry is very fruitful, for example, about 400 kg of berries per hectare are being gathered in some areas of taiga.
Red bilberry has a specific taste with a bit of bitterness and contains many essential elements and compounds: organic acids, vitamins, pectic substances and tannins. Red bilberries contain:
- Vitamins А, В, С, Е, К1, potassium, cuprum, calcium, ferrum, phosphorous, manganese, zinc, pectic substances and tannins, flavonoids (catechins), organic acids (about 2%): citric, acetic, malic, formic, oxalic, benzoic, glyoxylic, acetylformic, oxypyroracemic, oxoglutaric acids, sugars (up to 10%): glucose and fructose.
- Cuprum that aids in diabetes treatment is concentrated in berries and leaves. Manganese improves the function of blood-making organs and it is a very important element of the carbohydrate metabolism (this process is necessary for insulin production); an important element of the lipid exchange (prevents fat deposition in the liver) and the cholesterol synthesis.
- Benzoic acid is a natural antioxidant that strengthens cell membranes. Tartaric and salicylic acids aid in rheumatism. The skin of berries contains ursolic acid that has a hormonal action with the effects similar to hormones of atrabiliary capsules. These hormones have an antistress action.
Red bilberry aids in avitaminosis, cold-related diseases, kidney stones, uratosis, pyelonephritis, cystitis, gastritis with hypoacidity, pancreatitis, peptic ulcer, hypertension, neurosis, anemia, pulmonary tuberculosis, eye disorders, initial stage of arthritis, hepatocholecystitis, biliousness, oncology diseases. The berries have the following effects: antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, down regulates cholesterol in blood, regulates the arterial pressure, diuretic, bactericidal, removes toxins and heavy metals, improves digestion, anastaltic.
There are only few contraindications. As it was mentioned, red bilberry is contraindicated in case of kidney diseases and excessive acidity of the stomach. Healthy amounts of berries are not contraindicated to the pregnant, lactating mothers and kinds.