Once unknown Goji berries are getting more and more popular among people because of their health claims and potential benefits. The tiny red fruits packed with powerful antioxidants and medicinal properties known as “Goji Berries” can add great color to your plate. Besides color, they can bring certain health benefits like glucose regulation, boosting the immune system and preventing diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, age-related eye problems, and even AIDS.
How are goji berries consumed?
These yummy berries are now used as a food supplement and in juice blends. Mostly available in powdered or dried form, they are eaten in raw, dried, or cooked form. Goji berries are used in several teas, juices, wines, and medicines. Moreover, due to its countless beneficial properties, it is considered a ‘superfood’.
History of goji berries
The history of goji berries dates back to 2000 years ago when it was abundant in Asia and, especially, in China. Ancient people used to drink water from wells that had goji trees growing besides them. When goji berries used to ripen, they mostly fell in the wells infusing the water with their nutritional benefits. When villagers drank that water, they gained maximum nutritious benefits of Goji berries.
A book was written by a Chinese emperor Shen Nong in 250 BCE in which he mentioned many herbs having countless benefits including goji berries. Later, in the 16th century, he wrote another book named ‘Li Shi-Zen’ that included a piece of detailed information on Goji berries and their advantages.
Now-a-days, the Goji berries are produced largely in the farms of Northwestern China that extend up to 200,000 acres of farmland. Magnolia and Shaanxi also cultivate these berries.
Nutritional facts of goji berries
The following nutritional facts are for 28 gm of Goji berries:
|Iron||11% of daily value|
|Vitamin A||501% of daily value|
|Vitamin C||15% of daily value|
|Potassium||21% of daily value|
|Zinc||15% of daily value|
As evident from the nutritional facts, goji berries are a rich source of proteins and nutrients. A 100 gm of goji berries provide 11 gm of proteins. These micronutrients and minerals are crucial to perform different body functions that include protection of cells and optimizing metabolism. Goji berries also provide 11 amino acids that are essential for our bodies.
Benefits of Goji berries
Mentioned below are the health advantages of these amazing small berries:
- Protecting the Eyes: Healthy antioxidants like zeaxanthin are greatly helpful in protecting the eyes against any age-related diseases as well as improve vision. A report published in the American Academy of Optometry’s journal revealed that people who drink goji juice for continuously 90 days greatly increase the zeaxanthin and other antioxidant levels within the body. Another study published in Drug Design, Development and Therapy journal showed that consumption of goji berries protects the retina of our eyes from ganglion cells that are responsible for glaucoma. Glaucoma is a condition that causes loss of vision. Several other studies have revealed that goji berries play a vital role in enhancing eye health and ward off eye disorders like macular degeneration. A small study conducted on 150 older adults for 90 days showed that goji berry supplements prevent hypopigmentation of the central area of the retina as well as melts away the fatty protein deposits around the retina. Another study also revealed that the density of macular pigments can be decreased largely by taking goji berry supplements on daily basis.
- Support Immune System: Antioxidants help boost our immune system as well as the fight against inflammation and free radicals. As goji berries have a good amount of antioxidants, they support the immune system against many diseases. Similar to other berries like raspberries or blueberries, goji berries also contain vitamin A and C that are considered the building blocks of our immune system and prevent other illnesses as well which includes common cold to more severe ailments like cancer. A study found that 50 healthy adults that drank 120 ml of goji berry juice have 8% more antioxidants markers as compared to those who do not consume this juice. Therefore, regular consumption of goji berry juice boosts the antioxidant levels within the body.
- Anti-aging Properties: Goji berry antioxidants fight the aging process by capturing free radicals that damage the collagen in the skin. The goji extracts delay the aging process and inhibit glycation. A small test-tube study showed that goji berry extracts protect the DNA against aging damage as well as protects premature aging. Goji berries are rich in Beta-carotene which is a phytochemical that promotes skin health. This beta-carotene is used in several anti-aging skin creams to treat skin irritation, improves skin health, eliminates the negative effects of sun rays, and prevents aging. The antioxidant property of goji berries protects people who are vulnerable to skin cancer or other skin disorders. Two very essential antioxidants heme oxygenase-1 and metallothionein are found in goji berries that provide photo-immune protection to the skin.
- Protects against Depression, Anxiety, and Sleeplessness: Several pieces of researches have shown that goji berry juice largely improves energy, mood, and digestive health when 120ml of goji juice is consumed for 14 days. A group of people was given goji berry juice for 15 days, who later showed great refinement in body’s energy level, ability to focus, improved athletic performance, mental health, feeling of calmness as well as contentment. People drinking this juice showed enhancement in the quality of sleep as compared to those people who do not consume this juice. A study from the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine stated that goji berry juice escalates energy levels within the body as well as upgrades the mood and digestive health.
Side effects of Goji berries
When eaten in large amounts, goji berries can cause:
- Stomach ache
- Allergic reactions
- Diabetes, if eaten in huge amounts in dried form.
- Can cause a negative reaction to those people who are taking blood-thinning medicines.
- May cause skin rash, itchiness, or tingling in your mouth.
Goji berries are famous for their vibrant color and sour flavor. Besides these, they also provide numerous vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant content which are crucial for immune functions and eye health. All over the world, they are used in different recipes. But moderation should be kept in mind while consuming these healthy berries.