Goji Berries nutrition & benefits
Goji berries are small, brightly colored red berries which is native to Tibet. It eventually spread to the evergreen shrub found in the sub tropical and temperate regions of India, Mongolia and China.
They belong to the nightshade family -solonaceae- and are sometimes referred to as Wolfberries. Usually, the berries are sold in dried form although its juice has become popular as an antioxidant.
Goji berry -most notably known as the wolfberry- has its roots deep within the Chinese culture and is part of the Lycium barbarum family. It’s known for its sheer beauty, a flowering plant that exhibits remarkable colors first in lavender and then later the berries produce rich colors in red, orange and vibrant yellow. The plant itself grows to be anywhere from one to three meters high.
Goji are harvested on plantations primarily in China and surrounding regions and are stringently regulated by the Chinese government who will periodically release batches of them to be imported to other regions of the world. In China, many locals refer to the goji berry as ‘red diamonds’ because they are believed to have immense healing properties and are extremely valuable to those cultures.
China exports as much as $120 million dollars worth of goji berries to the United States each year and millions more to other locals across the globe.
Traditionally the goji berry is cooked prior to consuming, although some choose to use it as a topper in cereals and salads. In Western cultures these berries are often added to soup bases and combined with other vegetables when preparing stir fry and other dishes. Because of their strong antioxidant properties goji berry based teas are also quite popular across the regions and additionally the berry offers a mild and pleasing taste to the pallet.
Aside from tasting great, the goji berry has reportedly offered health benefits for over 6,000 years in ancient civilizations in Tibet and China.
Goji berries are found in all Chinese herb shops as well as in many nutritional shops in supplemental form and some health grocery stores. The berries themselves are not expensive, although goji berry juice can be pretty costly.
The berries have 18 types of amino acids – protein building blocks-, 21 trace minerals -includes zinc, phosphorous, calcium, etc) as well as vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, and C. Goji berries have long been used for medicinal purposes in Chinese traditions.
Goji Berries Benefits
Beta-carotene and Zeaxanthin are the two principal antioxidants within the goji berry. Zeaxanthin has long been attributed to eye sight functioning and is also thought to be able to decrease the risk of macular degeneration which happens in aging humans and can cause blindness.
One Chinese study which was published in Chinese Journal of Oncology (1994) gave the goji berry to patients who were diagnosed with cancer and the findings concluded that 79 of the patients responded well and better than the patients who were not given goji berry treatments. Other studies have continuously revealed that the antioxidants within the berry may prevent the cancer cells from forming at all.
Eating antioxidant rich foods and taking supplements have long been found to help slow the aging process, as well as contributing to better cardiovascular health and strengthening the immune system. Other similar berries such as cranberries and blueberries are said to be as effective.
Antioxidants also combat free radicals within the body that damage healthy cells; if free radicals are kept at a minimum or extinguished completely, the result is overall better health and decreased risk of contracting some of the deadliest diseases such as liver disease, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s and many forms of cancer.
Goji and Mental Capacity
Newer studies are having some staggering results in the realm of the goji berry possibly being linked to improved mental health as well as overall calmness, less anxiety, fewer instances of depression and more acute mental clarity and concentration.
Although still in their early stages, these studies continue to produce positive results when given to patients who have trouble focusing, report feeling depressed and stressed and those who suffer from sleeping disorders such as insomnia.
These studies are concluded by examining the goji berry in its natural state and fewer studies have been performed on goji berry supplements so their overall effectiveness is not currently known.
Some research shows that while taking goji berries that sexual performance has been enhanced as has sexual libido and better, more fulfilling orgasms. These studies are infantile and the results should not be counted on as documented literature as of yet.
Thus far there are few side effects found and listed pertaining to goji berries and supplements. However those who are prescribed blood thinning medication such as Warfarin and others should not consume this berry. Likewise, it may also poorly interact with some blood pressure prescribed medications as well as diabetic medications. Consult your doctor before consuming goji berries if you suffer from any of these ailments.
Goji Cleansers and Detoxes
Millions are spent each year on goji berry cleaners and weight loss supplements. It is thought that since they are rich in antioxidants, that using such cleansers may help people shed unwanted pounds. While true that the antioxidants can boost immune health and perhaps increase energy, studies are wholly inconclusive as to whether a goji berry cleanser can help with weight loss.
Many medical professionals however do stand behind the idea of cleaning the body from time to time and by taking a goji berry cleanser it is quite possible that harmful toxins may be erected from the body and therefore may have some beneficial results.
Goji berries have very high levels of antioxidants mostly carotenoids -e.g. beta-carotene & zeaxanthin-. Zeaxanthin acts as an antioxidant at the same time plays a big role in protecting the eye’s retina since it absorbs the blue light.
When you increase your intake of foods that contain zeaxanthin, it decreases the risks of developing age-related macular degeneration that could otherwise result in loss of vision and blindness in most people above age 65.
Several studies have been done on the goji berry. One of them was published by a Chinese journal and it proved that people responded well to the cancer treatment when the berry was included in the program.
The berry has antioxidants whose extracts prevent the growth of cancer cells. The antioxidant also helps in reducing blood glucose at the same time in lowering the levels of cholesterol in the body. Note that this does not certainly mean that it has the same benefits when taken as juice or in the tea form.
Boosts the Immune System
As mentioned earlier, goji berries are rich in zinc, vitamin c and other minerals. These are very useful for protecting the body against diseases as well as in recovery. They aid in the health and the longevity of the hormones and for protection of the body cells.
In general, the body’s immune system is boosted by the polysaccharides whose function is to protect the cells from generic mutation, the mineral germanium which are responsible for fighting off any cancer and the beta carotene that boosts the functioning of the thymus gland as well as stimulate the action of the immune system in preventing any viral infection.
Keeps the Vital Organs Healthy
Goji berries balances the blood sugar levels in the body and at the same time enhances the functioning of the skin, liver and the digestive system. They have phytonutrients which enhances the ability of the liver to detoxify at the same time guard it from carcinogens & hepatitis virus.
The phytonutrients include betaine polysaccharides which clean the liver and reduce toxic amino acids from the cardiovascular system. The goji tea can also be used for the treatment of diabetes, digestive problems and ulcers.
The berries also enhance the production of choline by the body and this is very essential in fighting off free radical damage – responsible for narrowing down the arteries that deliver oxygen to the brain cells-.