Also known as the wolf berry, goji berries are a bright orangish red fruit native to China. This superfruit has traditionally been used in China, Tibet, and India for its health applications, such as treating diabetes, certain eye conditions, high blood pressure, and reducing fever. Most notably are the claims that goji berries act as a “fountain of youth,” helping to increase longevity. While some of these claims are less substantiated than others, it is clear that goji berries pack a punch when it comes to healthful benefits.
The Healing Properties of Goji Berries
Goji berries contain a rich array of vitamins, phytochemicals, trace minerals, amino acids, and have as much effective protein as bee pollen. Goji berries are a great source of antioxidants such as flavonoids, carotenoids, and polyphenols, as well as essential vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin E. Because of their high amounts of antioxidants, goji berries increase immune functioning, and help to reduce the damaging effects caused by free radicals and other toxins in the body. Researchers believe that goji berries might also be effective in preventing the spread of cancer, in lowering blood glucose levels and cholesterol levels, as well as possibly preventing Alzheimer’s disease. Goji berries have also been shown to improve circulation, improve eyesight (as well as protecting against macular degeneration and cataracts), and support liver and kidney functioning.
Research on Goji Berries
In a 1994 study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology tested the efficacy of goji berries in reducing the spread of cancer cells. 79 participants were monitored before and after adding goji berries to their cancer treatment plan. The results showed that when goji berries were taken in conjunction with cancer medications, it significantly improved the efficacy of the medications. The forms of cancer represented in the study were renal cell carcinoma, colorectal carcinoma, nasopharyngeal carcinoma, malignant melanoma, and malignant hydrothorax.
A 1998 report published by the State Scientific and Technological Commission of China showed that 50 grams of goji berries effectively increased the white blood cell count of participants, as well as contributed to a 75% increase in the antibody, immunoglobulin. Another study from the University of Hong Kong confirmed the immune boosting effects of goji berries, as well as possible anti aging effects. The study found that goji berry extract helped to prevent deterioration of neurological functioning associated with Alzheimer’s disease and old age. Researchers believe that the high levels of vitamin A are responsible for the potential anti-aging effects of goji berries.
Goji Berries and Phytochemicals
In addition to vitamins, amino acids, and essential minerals, goji berries also contain a healthy dose of phytochemicals. One group of active phytochemical in goji berries are polysaccharides, which have been shown to support and maintain healthy digestion, enhance mineral uptake, stimulate the immune system, and lower pH levels in the body. Another phytochemical, zeaxanthin, has been shown to protect eye health, and is also a potent antioxidant. High levels of Beta-carotene in goji berries are essential for synthesis of vitamin A, which promotes healthy cell functioning, contributes to strong bones, teeth, and helps keep skin healthy.
Goji Berries and Anti-Aging
In the Northern Chinese region of Ningxia Hui (an area of the country where goji berries are a main dietary staple) there are approximately 16 times more centenarians (people living over 100 years old) than in the rest of the country. In Tibet, goji berries have been used for thousands of years in traditional ceremony, as well as daily life, and is believed to add years to a person’s life. While goji berries do contain many health benefits, which may contribute to a longer life, research has yet to identify one unique property specific to goji berries that may be responsible for this phenomenon.
Goji berries have shown to increase the health among those who consume this superfood. Goji berries are most commonly sold as juice or as dried fruit, and can be found at any health food store. If you have pollen allergies you should steer clear of goji berries, as there have been reports of allergic reactions to goji in these individuals. Over consumption of goji berries can lead to dry mouth, blurred vision, and vomiting. Goji may lower blood pressure, and care should be exercised if you are currently taking blood pressure medication. Add goji berries to your diet for increased holistic health.
There are over 40 different variations of goji berries, each with slightly different attributes. Goji berry plants can grow up to 10 feet tall.
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