Lingonberry: Canada’s next superfruit?

SUMMERLAND — You may be familiar with “superfruits” such as blueberries, pomegranates and kiwis, but have you ever heard of  lingonberries? They’re a small, red fruit similar to cranberries and they’re grown in B.C. There’s not much known about them, but that could soon change.

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada has put together a small team of research scientists to determine the health benefits of the little-known fruit. If the results are promising, lingonberries may be grown commercially.

“[The] lingonberry is now at the point that blueberries were at 20 years ago. We need to do the science to understand what’s in there; what are the health properties,” explains Dr. Kelly Ross, one of the Summerland-based researchers.

So far the research reveals lingonberries may potentially be rich in antioxidants, promote good heart health and fight diabetes.

They may not only be good for you, but they’re also marketable.

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The fruit is already grown in Scandinavian countries and people there are eating it up. At Ikea, the fruit has been turned into drinks, syrups and jams.

This is a market that Canada can also break into. Wild lingonberries grow in the northern communities in B.C., Manitoba, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“These regions are typically characterized as economically challenged, so to have some sort of commercialization and crop grown there can inject some sort of value into the economy; that’s a very positive thing for Canada,” says Ross.

She says the research is still in the early stages, so it could take about five years before Canadian-grown lingonberries join other “superfruits” in the produce aisle.

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