The clean nature and the forests and swamps of the North provide an excellent habitat for edible plants. Thanks to everyman’s right, anyone can go to the forest in Finland and pick as much berries, mushrooms and wild herbs as they want. Even during a poorer year, 100 kilos or twenty buckets of berries can be found in the forests per each Finn. Still the average Finn eats only 8 kilos of berries per year. The yearly amount of forest berries is about 500 million kilos and it has been estimated that for example only 3-10 % of all blueberries and lingonberries are collected. Luckily a part of this is preserved and brought for sale for everyone regardless of their location. About 50 different wild berries grow in Finland, out of which 37 are edible. About twenty different berries are suitable for collection and for nutritional usage. The best known of these are blueberry, lingonberry, raspberry, cloudberry, cranberry, sea-buckthorn and black crowberry.
Wild blueberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)
Wild blueberry contains vitamins C and E and is a good source of dietary fibre. The blue flesh of the wild blueberry is full of anthocyanin which gives the natural blue colour, whereas the insides of the highbush blueberry is light and pale. Anthocyanins are water-soluble flavonoids which protect the cells from the free radicals formed in the body.
Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)
Lingonberry grows in the light and dry heath forests. This superberry contains vitamin E and plenty of magnesium. Lingonberry is a good source of dietary fibre and contains polyphenols such as resveratrol and quercetin which are currently under extensive research on their health benefits.
Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos)
Cranberries can be found in nutrient-poor bogs, swamps and shores throughout Finland. It contains lots of vitamin C (14 mg/100 g). Cranberry tastes fresh yet bitter and it is a good source of antioxidants and dietary fibre. Cranberry also contains a small amount of iodine which is essential for the normal functioning of the thyroid.
Strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa)
Strawberry contains plenty of flavonoids, such as ellagitannins, which function as antioxidants in the body. Strawberry contains 60 mg/100 g of vitamin C, which is more than in an orange, and as much dietary fibre as carrot. The fibre concentration of strawberry is 2,4 % of its wet weight.
Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus)
Cloudberry is a perennial grass which grows in swamps. Cloudberry has two leaves and one flower and its fruit is rich of vitamin C. Only 75 grams of these golden berries is enough to exceed the recommended daily intake. Cloudberry also contains more vitamin E and ellagitannin than many fruits and grains. With 6,3 g/100 g of dietary fibre, it is the richest of all wild berries in dietary fibre.
Sea-buckthorn (Hippophaë rhamnoides)
Sea-buckthorn is rich in vitamins C and E, dietary fibre and useful fatty acids. Less than one decilitre of sea-buckthorn has as much vitamin C as a mid-size orange, as 100 g of sea-buckthorn contains even 165 mg of vitamin C. The oil in the flesh and the seeds mainly contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3, -6, -7, and -9) and composes 4-7 % of the weight of sea-buckthorn.
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus)
Raspberry contains vitamin C, vitamin E and folate. Two decilitres of raspberries contain as much vitamin C as one mandarin. Raspberry is also a good source of dietary fibre and polyphenol which acts as antioxidant.
Blackcurrant (Ribes nigrum)
The berries, seed oil and the leaves of blackcurrant are rich in vitamins C, E and A. Blackcurrant contains more vitamin C than an orange. The oil of blackcurrant also contains plenty of good fatty acids such as stearidonic acid (SDA) and gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA).
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