Goji – The Best Berry Yet?
Some folks use the term “superfood” an awful lot. Practically everything healthy has been labeled a superfood. So when science comes across a true superfood, it may just sound like more of the same old hype.
But in the case of a certain berry, there’s no hype about it.
Goji – also called wolfberry – truly deserves the title “super.” This ancient fruit from the Himalayas offers tremendous benefits. And we’re just beginning to discover the many ways it can boost your health.
Like most other fruits, goji berries are packed with antioxidants. But they also appear to boost levels of your body’s own most powerful antioxidants.
In one study, subjects drank either goji juice or a look-alike beverage for 30 days. The goji group saw a rise of nearly 10% in two of their body’s most powerful antioxidants – superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase. Their blood also showed 8.7% less free radical activity. The look-alike group had no improvements.1
Goji also contains some harder-to-find nutrients. For example, these little berries are a rich source of zeaxanthin.
Zeaxathin is a plant pigment related to vitamin A. It’s also one of two pigments – along with lutein – that are responsible for your central vision. And studies have shown that getting more zeaxanthin in your diet cuts your risk of several vision problems.2
Swiss researchers fed goji to a group of volunteers. After 90 days, their zeaxanthin levels were up by 26% – proving the zeaxanthin in goji berries is highly absorbable.3
That wasn’t the only number that went up, either. The people in this study also wound up with a 57% boost in their overall antioxidant capacity.
Men may especially benefit from eating goji berries. They’re a good source of beta-sitosterol. This natural compound is linked to having fewer and milder prostate problems.4
Goji may help you avoid other problems, too.
Scientists in Arizona discovered goji boosts levels of certain immune cells in humans. In this study, people receiving the goji slept better and reported feeling less tired. They also showed slight improvements in short-term memory and mental sharpness.5
Can you see what I mean about goji being a true superfood? And I expect the news to get even better in the future. Animal and test-tube studies point to goji berries having many other healthful benefits.
- Animal studies show that goji promotes healthier levels of blood sugar, triglycerides (fats) and cholesterol.6
- University of Hong Kong researchers recently demonstrated that goji may promote nerve cell health.7
- Goji may help protect your skin, too. In a 2010 trial, rodents fed goji berry juice suffered far less UV skin damage than those that didn’t get the juice.8
Goji berries have an interesting flavor that’s a mix of sweet and tart. I’ve heard them described as “somewhere between cherries and cranberries.” That’s a pretty good description.
Goji berries and juice can be fairly expensive. Depending on your source, the berries can run from $1 – $2 per ounce. But mix them with an equal amount of almonds, and you’ll have a delicious healthy snack.
Most people shouldn’t have any issues with goji berries. But there have been a handful of reports of trouble from people taking blood thinners. To be safe, if you’re on blood thinners, talk to your doctor before you try goji berries or goji juice.
Both the berries and juice are widely available in
health food stores and online.
Dr Kenneth Woliner, M.D.
Best Life Herbals
1 Amagase H, et al. Lycium barbarum (goji) juice improves in vivo antioxidant biomarkers in serum of healthy adults. Nutr Res. 2009 Jan;29(1):19-25.
2 SanGiovanni JP, et al. The relationship of dietary carotenoid and vitamin A, E, and C intake with age-related macular degeneration in a case-control study: AREDS Report No. 22. Arch Ophthalmol. 2007 Sep;125(9):1225-32.
3 Bucheli P, et al. Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci. 2011 Feb;88(2):257-62.
4 Wilt T, et al. Beta-sitosterols for benign prostatic hyperplasia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2000;(2):CD001043.
5 Amagase H, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice in Chinese older healthy human subjects. J Med Food. 2009 Oct;12(5):1159-65.
6 Jing L, et al. Evaluation of hypoglycemic activity of the polysaccharides extracted from Lycium barbarum. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2009 Jul 3;6(4):579-84.
7 Ho YS, et al. Neuroprotective effects of polysaccharides from wolfberry, the fruits of Lycium barbarum, against homocysteine-induced toxicity in rat cortical neurons. J Alzheimers Dis. 2010;19(3):813-27.
8 Reeve VE, et al. Mice drinking goji berry juice (Lycium barbarum) are protected from UV radiation-induced skin damage via antioxidant pathways. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2010 Apr;9(4):601-7.