Goji Berries: Superfood or Medicinal Powerhouse?

Goji Berries: Superfood or Medicinal Powerhouse?

Ask any Korean and they will tell you that goji berries are regarded as a staple ingredient in numerous medicinal formulations. Goji berries, also called “wolfberries” and scientifically known as Lycium barbarumn, have gained immense popularity in recent years as a superfood. These petite, vividly red fruits are native to Asia and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. In this blog, we will explore the potential of goji berries as a natural antioxidant medicine, delving into their nutritional profile, health benefits, and how they can be incorporated into your daily diet.

What Makes Them So Healthy? The Nutritional Profile of Goji Berries

Goji berries are an incredibly rich source of nutrients and bioactive compounds. In brief, they contain:

  • Vitamins: High levels of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and several B vitamins.
  • Minerals: Including iron, selenium, and zinc.
  • Antioxidants: Particularly zeaxanthin, which is known for its eye health benefits.
  • Amino Acids: They contain 18 amino acids, including all eight essential amino acids.
  • Polysaccharides: Unique to goji berries, these compounds have been linked to various health benefits.

Antioxidant Properties

The most significant attribute of goji berries is their antioxidant capacity. Antioxidants are compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body, reducing oxidative stress and preventing cellular damage. Goji berries contain various antioxidants, including carotenoids like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. Regular consumption of foods rich in antioxidants is linked to a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases. 

Potential Health Benefits

  • Eye Health: Zeaxanthin, an antioxidant in goji berries, is known to protect the eyes from age-related diseases, such as macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of vision loss in approximately 11 million elderly people in the US. Eating dried goji berries
    may help prevent AMD according to a small clinical study at UC Davis.

    Another study showed that the properties of Goji Berries, which are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, are like sunscreen for your eyes. Ninety days of Goji berries consumption showed an increase in the macular pigment optical density in healthy, middle-aged adults.
  • Immune System Support: The high vitamin C content aids in boosting the immune system. Goji berries showed promise with anticancer activity against normal cells in breast cancer treatment. The berries also show promise in involving oral cancers.
  • Skin Health: Beta-carotene is beneficial for skin health and may protect against skin damage from the sun. A study on animals, featured in the Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology, revealed that polysaccharides in goji berries may safeguard against skin damage caused by UVB rays. This protection is attributed to their ability to diminish oxidative stress and inflammation.
  • Stabilizing Blood Sugar: Some studies suggest that goji berries can help control blood sugar levels, making them a beneficial snack for individuals with diabetes. Similar findings suggest goji Bberries increase the “good cholesterol” or HDL levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
  • Cancer Prevention: The antioxidants in goji berries may help prevent cancer growth by protecting cells from oxidative damage.
  • Improvement in Anxiety and Depression: A US study found that participants who drank goji juice for 14 days noted improvement in focus, energy, feeling of calmness, and contentment by the 15th day.

Incorporating Goji Berries into Your Diet

Goji berries are versatile and can be included in your diet in various ways:

  • Raw: Eat them as a snack, just like raisins.
  • Juice: Goji berry juice is a popular way to enjoy its benefits.
  • Tea: Boil dried goji berries to make a nutritious tea.
  • Shakes & Smoothies: Add them to your smoothies for a nutrient boost.
  • Baking: Incorporate them into muffins, cookies, or energy bars.
  • Supplements: found in a variety of supplements

If you are to eat these little berries raw they may taste like a cross between a cranberry and a cherry; a little bit tangy but have a touch of sweetness as well.

Goji Berries: Superfood or Medicinal Powerhouse?

How Much Should You Take? Safety and Dosage

While goji berries are generally safe for most people, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Allergies: As with any new food, there's a potential for allergic reactions.
  • Interactions with Medications: Goji berries can interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and diabetes drugs.
  • Pregnancy: Pregnant women should consult their healthcare provider before adding goji berries to their diet in large amounts.

There is no established standard dose for goji berries. A typical dose is about 20-30 grams of the dried fruit.

Summing Up the Superpowers of Goji Berries

Ranked third globally for their antioxidant content, goji berries are a nutritional powerhouse, boasting 500 times more vitamin C than oranges. They are rich in 18 amino acids, including all eight essential ones, essential for protein synthesis. Revered in Chinese culture for their myriad health benefits, these small red berries are now gaining recognition in the U.S. for their potential uses.

The robust nutritional composition and antioxidant capabilities of goji berries contribute to a wide array of health benefits. They are a great natural addition to a well-rounded diet, though moderation and awareness of any possible medication or health condition interactions are crucial.

Adding goji berries to your daily diet offers a simple, tasty way to potentially improve your overall health and well-being. Ongoing research is likely to further illuminate the extensive medicinal qualities of these extraordinary berries.







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