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Diet and Health
Switzerland
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Lingonberries, fresh (raw, organic?)

Fresh Lingonberries (raw, organic?) have a tart and slightly bitter flavor. They are rich in vitamins and minerals. Good against urinary tract infections.

Pictogram nutrient tables

Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) are bright red in color. It’s easy to confuse them with cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) as they have a similar appearance and similar nutritional profiles.

Culinary uses:

Can you eat raw lingonberries? Raw lingonberries taste quite sour, tart, and slightly bitter, so they are almost always cooked and sweetened. They make a good addition to mixed salads and muesli. And they are also a tasty in cakes and muffins. Lingonberries are primarily eaten as jam, jelly, or chutney with hearty dishes, meat, or cheese. They have a very long shelf life because they contain high concentrations of fruit acids.

Lingonberries can also be used to make juice, syrup, compote, and tea. A daily cup of lingonberry tea can help to prevent bladder diseases and inflammation of the gums. The berries are also added to wine and to liqueurs that take on a special lingonberry flavor.

Recipe for Lingonberry Jam:

Ingredients: 1.5 kg lingonberries, 0.5 kg sugar, organic lemon peel, 2 juniper berries to taste.

Preparation: Rinse the lingonberries well, soak briefly in water, and remove any damaged, floating berries. Drain the lingonberries well, cut the lemon peel into strips or grate finely with a rasp, and crush the juniper berries. Mix these ingredients with the sugar in a large saucepan and allow the mixture to sit for approx. 2 hours. Then simmer the lingonberries for approx. 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Since the berries contain high concentrations of ascorbic acid, benzoic acid, and salicylic acid, it is not necessary to add artificial preservatives.

Fill clean jars with the jam while the jam is still hot, seal them tightly, and set upside down (only screw-top lids, not Weck jars) for approx. 5 minutes.

Recipe for Lingonberry Leaf Tea:

Like the berries themselves, dried lingonberry leaves can help to prevent urinary tract infections. Approximately 15 g of the dried leaves should suffice when used daily. Pour boiling water over the leaves, and let them steep for 7–10 minutes. To avoid extracting too much of the tannins in your tea, you can also use a cold brew method. For cold brew tea, let the leaves steep for about 6–12 hours in cold water. Strain the leaves from the tea, heat it up, and sweeten to taste with honey or another sweetener.

Purchasing — where to shop?

Lingonberries are available in jams and jellies at all major grocery stores and health food chains such as Coop, Migros, Denner, Volg, Spar, Aldi, Lidl, Rewe, Edeka, and Hofer (Europe); Walmart, Whole Foods Markets, Kroger, and Safeway (United States); Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Holland & Barret (Great Britain); Metro, Extra Foods, and Goodness Me (Canada); and Coles, Woolworths, and Harris Farm (Australia). Some health food stores also sell dried lingonberries. Most often, however, you will find dried, sweetened cranberries, rather than lingonberries. Lingonberries are also available as health supplements in the form of capsules, powdered drink mixes, tablets, tea, juice, and syrup in some health food stores and online shops.
In Europe, fresh, wild lingonberries may even be available at farmers’ markets. They are collected in Northern and Eastern Europe until October. There are also some online shops that offer fresh or frozen lingonberries.

Storing:

Lingonberries will stay fresh for approx. 2 days in the refrigerator. The bright red berries also keep well in the freezer for a few months. You can process the frozen berries without any issues.
Preserved lingonberries should be stored in a cool, dark place, such as a basement or a pantry. Dried lingonberries are best when stored in an airtight container in the freezer. If you store dried lingonberries at room temperature, make sure you store them in a dry room that is not prone to periods of high humidity.
Preserved or dried lingonberries can keep for several years, provided they are free from pests and mold.

Finding wild:

Lingonberries grow wild in the temperate and frigid zones of the northern hemisphere.1 They prefer bogs and swamps, but they can also be found in sparsely treed coniferous forests and on sunny mountain meadow slopes. It is particularly important to wash wild lingonberries well before consuming them.

Nutrients — nutritional information — calories:

Raw lingonberries provide about 41 calories/100 g, and they are composed of 88 % water, very little protein (0.28 %), and 9.1 % carbohydrates. They are also low in fat (0.5 %). Lingonberries’ ratio of LA:ALA (omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids) is very good (0.79:1).2 For more information, see the link in the box above.

Although lingonberries are high in fruit acids, they do not contain much vitamin C (12 mg/100 g) in comparison to strawberries, which contain 58 mg. Fennel and leeks have the same amount of ascorbic acid as lingonberries. Black currants have significantly more of this water-soluble vitamin: 181 mg/100 g.2

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that provides valuable antioxidant effects. Alpha-tocopherol, a form of vitamin E, is found in both nuts (hazelnuts: 15 mg) and vegetables (cabbage: 2.3 mg), as well as some types of fruit. Lingonberries contain 0.94 mg/100 g, and mangoes and raspberries contain similar quantities.

Lingonberries also contain biotin (2.4 µg/100 g). This water-soluble vitamin, formerly known as vitamin B7, is important for energy metabolism. Sea buckthorn contains 3 µg, and strawberries contain 4 µg. Peas have very high quantities of biotin: 19 µg/100 g.2

Lingonberries also contain 0.26 mg/100 g manganese. This trace element plays an essential role in building cartilage and connective tissues. Cereal germs (such as wheat germ: 13 mg) and whole grains (such as rolled oats: 3.6 mg) are especially high in manganese. Blueberries contain approx. 0.33 mg/100 g, which is close to the manganese content found in lingonberries.2

Iron, another trace element, is also present in lingonberries at 0.5 mg/100 g. Herbs (such as dried thyme: 124 mg), seeds (such as pumpkin seeds: 8.8 mg), and legumes (such as lentils: 6.5 mg) are good vegan sources of iron. Vegetables and fruits have a little less iron, but you should not completely discount their iron content. Vitamin C can improve the absorption of iron from plant sources.2

Ratio of omega-6 fatty acids (LA) to omega-3 fatty acids (ALA) in berries:

Berries and wild berries usually have a very good ratio of LA (linoleic acid) to ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Berries are generally low in fat, which means that they are also relatively low in both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are, however, high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, if you take into consideration their total fat content.

The body uses alpha-linolenic acid to produce other omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) that have anti-inflammatory effects, while linoleic acid produces arachidonic acid, which can promote inflammation. Lingonberries’ good ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is another reason that they are considered quite healthy.

Information on individual values of ALA and LA (source: USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), Önwt (Austrian’s official table of nutritional values), and Debinet (German network for nutritional advice and information)):

Beeries (raw)

LA (g/100g)

ALA (g/100g)

Ratio LA:ALA

Total Fat (g/100 g)

Source

Sea buckthorn

2.6

1.8

1.5:1

7,1

Önwt

Elderberries

0.6

0.5

1:1

1.7

Önwt

Blackberries

0.19

0.4

0.36

0.09

0.3

0.26

2:1

1.25:1

1.3:1

0.34

1.0

1.0

USDA

Önwt

Debinet

Wild blackberries

0.4

0.3

1.25:1

1.0

Önwt

Lingonberries

0.2

0.2

1:1

0.5

Önwt

Cranberries

0.3

0.2

1.5:1

0.7

Önwt

Blueberries

0.2

0.22

0.2

0.15

1:1

1.5:1

0.6

0.6

Önwt

Debinet

Raspberries

0.25

0.1

0.13

0.1

2:1

1:1

0.46

0.3

USDA

Önwt

Wild strawberries

0.1

0.1

1:1

0.4

Önwt

Wild raspberries

0.1

0.1

1:1

0.3

Önwt

Boysenberries

0.11

0.08

1.5:1

0.3

Debinet

Black currants

0.11

0.07

1.5:1

0.26

USDA

Strawberries

0.09

0.06

1.5:1

0.21

0.4

USDA

Debinet

Gooseberries

0.27

0.05

5:1

0.4

USDA

Red currants

0.05

0.04

0.04

0.03

1:1

1.25:1

0.13

0.2

USDA

Debinet

Health aspects — benefits:

The anthocyanins contained in lingonberries can have antibacterial and antioxidant effects. Anthocyanins are also sometimes called free radical scavengers.

Berries such as lingonberries, cranberries, and blueberries also contain proanthocyanidins, which are particularly helpful for treating bladder infections. These proanthocyanidins can prevent bacteria from settling in mucous membranes because they make the membranes smooth and supple. Regularly consuming berries, berry juice, or natural remedies made from berries can reduce your risk of developing urinary tract and bladder diseases,3 but the link between berry consumption and a reduced risk of these types of infections has not been proven. Some studies on cranberries provide evidence against the claim that the berries’ proanthocyanidins affect E. coli bacteria in the urine. These studies were performed on nursing home residents who were given cranberry capsules to prevent bacteriuria and pyuria.23

Both lingonberry leaves and berries are said to have a soothing effect on liver diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, diarrhea, and gastritis.4

Regularly consuming lingonberry extract can improve cholesterol levels and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.5 It has also been shown that lingonberry extract can decrease total oxidation status and have a positive effect on the antioxidant defense enzymes in red blood cells and in the liver.6

Dangers — intolerances — side effects:

Lingonberries from Bavaria and Eastern Europe are sometimes still contaminated with excessive levels of radioactive radiation (Chernobyl). Lingonberry plant roots extend very deep under the surface of the soil and absorb the cesium-137 that has accumulated under the forest floor, so you should always pay attention to the region of origin.7

Lingonberries and all other foods that grow close to the ground must be washed well before consumption. While it is rare to find tapeworms (Echinococcus multilocularis) in these foods, the parasites can have very serious consequences if ingested. In humans, these small tapeworms can cause serious liver disease called alveolar echinococcosis. The worms usually live in the small intestines of foxes, but they are also sometimes present in dogs and cats. E. multilocularis can survive for months in a moist environment, and even deep-freeze temperatures down to –20 ° C do not kill it. Through feces, the tapeworms’ eggs can infect berries, other wild food, and even drinking water. The disease is usually discovered quite late, but blood tests can help to detect it earlier and keep the infection under control.8

Use as a medicinal plant:

As a result of their high arbutin content (up to 7%), lingonberry leaves can be used for urinary tract infections, bladder infections, diabetes, and diarrhea.9

Traditional medicine — naturopathy:

Lingonberries have blood-purifying and disinfecting effects. In addition, their diuretic properties can help to prevent and treat bladder infections. Lingonberries are also used in the case of diarrhea, flatulence, and kidney inflammation. Teas made from lingonberries or dried lingonberry leaves can help with urinary disorders, fever, gout, and rheumatism.

According to one source on Alaskan folk medicine, raw lingonberries and lingonberry juice can be used to treat colds, coughs, and sore throats.11
A study of Austrian folk remedies also described treatments for breast cancer, diabetes, rheumatism, and various urogenital diseases.12

Description — origin:

Lingonberries originally come from northern Eurasia. Today, they are cultivated in Europe, Scandinavia, Greenland, Asia, and North America. In Central Europe, lingonberries are found in spruce and oak forests as well as in dwarf shrub heaths with acidic soil. Some pine forests also provide suitable conditions for lingonberries.13

Cultivation in the garden or as potted plants:

If you have your own garden, lingonberry bushes make a good ground cover. They prefer fresh, acidic soil (pH 4–6) that is rich in humus. Like most heather plants, lingonberries have a symbiotic relationship with root fungi (mycorrhiza). Plant lingonberries in a sunny to partially shaded spot. The low shrubs do not tolerate waterlogged soil, but like to be damp. They should definitely be watered during dry spells.14

When should you plant lingonberries? Fall is the best time, but you can also plant them in spring if you are afraid that the young shrubs won’t survive the winter. If you mix leaves or pine needles into the soil when you plant lingonberries, you can ensure an optimal level of soil acidity. Encourage new shoots from the base of the bushes by planting the bushes approx. 2 cm deeper in the soil than they were in the pot.14 Lingonberry bushes do not bear fruit until the third year after you have planted them out.
The shrubs can reach up to 40 cm tall. Their leaves are leathery and oval shaped. Their small bell-shaped blossoms are whitish pink and bloom twice a year,15 which means that you can also harvest the spherical, bright red berries twice a year. The first harvest is usually smaller and falls in June or July. The main harvest of the cherry-red fruits is in September and October.16 If you place several varieties next to each other in the garden, you will get a more abundant harvest.

We recommend picking the berries by hand since this is the gentlest method for gathering the fruit, but a small berry picker (berry comb) can make harvesting the berries much easier if you plan to process them immediately.

Lingonberry bushes are very easy to care for. It is not necessary to prune them, but if the shoots are too close, you can thin them out a little after they bloom. This ensures that all the berries get enough sun and turn red.

Lingonberries are usually disease resistant and not prone to pests. If your lingonberry bushes do get a disease, it will normally be a fungal infection (such as basidia or rust). If the leaves turn yellow, this may indicate that your soil contains too much lime (basic). Lingonberries are hardy and can withstand cold temperatures down to –20 ° C. On colder days, it is can help to cover the bushes with brushwood, such as pine branches. Lingonberries can grow up to an altitude of three thousand meters above sea level.

Danger of confusion:

Are cranberries and lingonberries the same? Cranberries look very much like lingonberries, but they are two different species. The former refers to American cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon), which have larger berries and were initially called cultivated lingonberries. This led to great confusion among consumers. Both are heather plants, and their berries have similar nutritional profiles.17

European lingonberries grow without fertilizers or pesticides and are picked almost exclusively by hand. In the United States, on the other hand, cranberries are cultivated as large-scale monocultures that are flooded for easy harvesting. The berries are skimmed off the top of the flooded fields. Because monocultures also lead to a greater likelihood of disease, pesticides are also used in the US.17

The leaves of lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), blueberries (V. myrtillus), bog bilberries (Vaccinium uliginosum), and bearberries (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) are all used in similar ways.18

General information:

Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) come from the heather family (Ericaceae) and from the genus Vaccinium, which includes blueberries and most of the other berries names above. There are two subspecies that are differentiated based on region:19

Vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. vitis-idaea L . is found everywhere, but mostly in southern areas, such as Eurasia, while

Vaccinium vitis-idaea subsp. minus (Lodd) Hultén is widespread in the arctic, in North America, Iceland, in western Greenland, and in northern Scandinavia. The plants have slightly shorter shoots. Both subspecies can be found in the mountains of Norway, where they form hybrids.

Alternative names:

Other names for lingonberries includes partridgeberries, mountain cranberries, and cowberries.20,22 According to Wikipedia some people think that the German name crownberry (Kronsbeere) comes from the name crane-berry (Kranich-Beere), while others posit that it comes from the crown-shaped calyx tips of the berries.21

As an herbal remedy, dried lingonberry leaves can be found under the name Vitis-Idaeae folium.

Literature — sources:

23 sources:

Many researchers do not believe that Wikipedia is an authoritative source. One reason for this is that the information about literature cited and authors is often missing or unreliable. Our pictograms for nutritional values provide also information on calories (kcal).

  1. Roger JDP. Heilkräfte der Nahrung. Ein Praxishandbuch. Advent-Verlag: Zürich. 2006.
  2. USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
  3. Kontiokari T. Randomised trial of cranberry-lingonberry juice and Lactobacillus GG drink for the prevention of urinary tract infections in women. BMJ. 2001;322.
  4. Ibadullayeva SJ, Mamedova SE, Sultanov ZR et al. Medicinal plants of Azerbaijan flora used in the treatment of certain diseases. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology. 2010;4(8).
  5. Hewage SM, Sid V, Prashar S et al. Impact of Lingonberry Supplementation on High-fat Diet-induced Metabolic Syndrome and Hyperlipidemia. Atherosclerosis Supplements. 2018;32.
  6. Mane C, Loonis M, Juhel C et al. Food Grade Lingonberry Extract: Polyphenolic Composition and In Vivo Protective Effect against Oxidative Stress. J. Agric. Food Chem. 2011;59(7).
  7. Pini U. Das Bio-Food Handbuch. Ullmann: Hamburg, Potsdam. 2014.
  8. Bundesamt für Gesundheit BAG. Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft. Fuchsbandwurm (Echinokokkose). 2019.
  9. Bown D. Encyclopedia of Herbs & their uses. DK: London. 1996.
  10. Fleischhauer SG, Guthmann J, Spiegelberger R. Enzyklopädie Essbare Wildpflanzen. AT Verlag: Aarau. 2018.
  11. Russe KP. Upper Tanana Ethnobotany, Anchorage. Alaska Historical Commission. 1985.
  12. Vogl S, Picker P, Mihaly-Bison J et al. Ethnopharmacological in vitro studieson Austria’s folk medicine - An unexplored lore in vitro anti-inflammatory activities of 71 Austrian traditional herbal drugs. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;149.
  13. Oberdorfer E. Pflanzensoziologische Exkursionsflora für Deutschland und angrenzende Gebiete. Eugen-Ullmer: Stuttgart, Hohenheim. 2001.
  14. Mein-schoener-garten.de Preiselbeere.
  15. Mabey R. Essbar Wildpflanzen, Pilze, Muscheln für die Naturküche. Haupt: Bern, Stuttgart, Wien. 2013.
  16. Gartentipps.com Preiselbeeren pflanzen.
  17. Vitagate.ch Wunderwaffe Preiselbeere.
  18. Pahlow M. Das grosse Buch der Heilpflanzen. Gesund durch die Heilkräfte der Natur. Nikol: Hamburg. 2013.
  19. Hjalmarsson I, Ortiz R. Lingonberry: Botany and Horticulture. John Wiley & Sons. 2002.
  20. Bielfeldt HH. Deutsch Preisselbeere "Vaccinium vitis-idaea", seine Herkunft und Wortgeschichte. Zeitschrift für Slawistik. 1971;16(1).
  21. Wikipedia Preiselbeere.
  22. Wikipedia Englisch Vaccinium vitis-idaea.
  23. Juthani-Mehta M, Van Ness PH, Bianco L et al. Effect of Cranberry Capsules on Bacteriuria Plus Pyuria Among Older Women in Nursing Homes. A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA. 2016;316(18).

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