What is a bilberry? We receive a lot of questions asking about the natural health benefits of superfruit including cherry juice, wild blueberries, dried cherries, pomegranates, cherry juice concentrate, strawberries and more. One fruit in particular has received a lot of attention is the bilberry. In this two post series, I would like to answer the following two questions: 1. What is a Bilberry 2. Natural health benefits of bilberries. In this first post, I'll talking about what is a bilberry. Bilberries are very popular in the European Union countries. These little fruit delicacies provide a number of naturally occuring health benefits ranging from helping to maintain healthy eye function and maintaining a healthy heart. Bilberries—What Are They? Bilberries are tiny blue-black colored berries that are grown on shrubs. This fruit is the cousin of the North American grown blueberry. They are mostly found in the European countries, most notably Great Britain, and in several North Asian countries as well. Since they are somewhat blue in color, people mistake them from blueberries, and indeed, one of the colloquial names for it is European blueberries. They are also called as whortleberries, winberries and wimberries in different parts of Europe. The berries belong to the Vaccinium genus. They are a group of several different species under this genus, most notably the Vaccinium myrtillus. They are related to the real blueberries and huckleberries through their genus. Bilberries—Traditional Roots Though bilberries were known as a popular fruit over several centuries, their real medicinal properties came to the fore only in the 16th Century. During those times, bilberries were used in traditional medicine as an astringent, antiseptic and an anti-inflammatory ingredient to help people come out of various ailments. Since the 16th Century, bilberries have gained a widespread popularity in Europe for their health benefits and this popularity did not take much time to spread to the rest of the world as well. In fact, during the World War 2, fighter pilots went on a steady diet of bilberries in order to improve their visual abilities. These pilots claimed that they could see and hit their targets more easily due to their consumption of these berries.