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LINGONBERRY (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

 

Also known as: cowberry, fox berries, lingberry, lingoberry, mountain cranberry or partridge berry.

 

Lingonberries Vaccinium vitis idaea

The slightly sour tasting  lingonberry is related to the bilberry, blueberry and cranberry but is far richer in the polyphenols that are beneficial to health. They are a favoured food in Scandinavia, particularly Sweden.

Lingonberries reduced the effects of a dangerous blood sugar by-product called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). Benefits such as this can be lifesaving for diabetics.

Lingonberries contain more polyphenol flavonoids than any other type of berry and they also help the body replace depleted antioxidants such as glutathione. Glutathione is known as the “master antioxidant” because of its ability to it fight off most infections.

The proanthocyanidins flavonoids in lingonberries provides their colours of black, blue, purple and red and it is these components that provides the health benefits. Quercetin is a bioactive phytonutrient in lingonberries that has beneficial anti-inflammatory effects for the health and can help with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis.

Due to the powerful anti-inflammatory components, regular consumption of lingonberry juice can protect the inner linings of blood vessels, which reduces the risk of heart disease and prevent age-related degeneration of the brain, eyes, glands and nervous system. Lingonberries help the effect of nitric oxide, a molecule that that is required for the blood vessels to relax and encourage the proper flow of blood and they can do this twice as well as cranberries or blackcurrants.

Regular consumption of lingonberries can prevent and treat conditions such as:

The lingonberries are more proficient than raspberries in promoting fat loss and preventing weight gain due to their higher polyphenol content. They also help to lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. In contrast, eating the 'super berry' acai can lead to weight gain as it is a staple sugar-rich energy providing food in South America. Acai berries can also lead to extra fat being stored around the liver.

Lingonberry has also been shown to increase the red blood cell count and liver enzymes and can inhibit the replication of several types of cancer cells, including cervical, colon and leukaemia cancer cells.

Lingonberries contain a tannin that has strong antimicrobial activity against Porphyromonas gingivalis and Prevotella intermedia, the two bacteria that can cause gum and periodontal disease.

These berries are also very effective against the Staphylococcus bacteria responsible for a wide variety of infections and can protect against and treat urinary tract infections.

Arbutin in lingonberry leaves, also found in the bearberry (uva ursi), is a phytochemical that has been shown to inactivate tyrosinase, an enzyme that is responsible for skin pigmentation and therefore can help to prevent age spots.

 

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How to eat lingonberries

Lingonberries grow in the wild small bushes in woodlands and on moorlands. They ripen in August and September and, in Sweden, they are picked with a scrabbler, a wide fork-like tool, which can strip a bush very quickly. They can also be found growing wild in the UK and some parts of North America and frozen lingonberries can be ordered online. They can be used as a substitute in all dishes that contain cranberries, blueberries or bilberries. One healthy way to include them in the diet is to add some to porridge oats, yoghurt or flapjack ingredients. They are also available pressed as a drink with no sugar added which is one of the best ways of consuming them. The Swedish often drink this gently heated during the winter.

Overnight coconut and lingonberry oats

This is a healthy and nutritious breakfast that is prepared at night and will be ready to consume in the morning.

Ingredients

  • Plain yogurt

  • 4 tablespoons of oat meal

  • 2 tablespoons of fresh or frozen lingonberries

  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut

  • One or two teaspoons of honey (to taste)

  • Pinch of ground cloves

Method

  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

  • Cover and place in the refrigerator over night.

  • Consume cold in the morning.

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