Goji berries have become one of the most talked about super foods these days and many celebrities have been raving about the health benefits that these berries offer. It is known as wolfberry, Tibetan goji, Chinese Wolfberry, Mede Berry, barbary matrimony vine, bocksdorn, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree or Murali (India). Goji berries are native to china, where they have been consumed since ancient times to improve longevity. In fact the significance of this berry in China is so huge that they conduct a festival in Ningxia every August during the harvest period of goji berries. Himalayan Goji berry is a variety found in Himalayas and some parts of Tibet and Mongolia. As people began to realize the health potential and medicinal value of this fruit, they started to make use of these benefits in treating health conditions like fever, hypertension, diabetes etc. Goji berries can be consumed raw, cooked or dried and can also be used in making juices, wines, and even medicines.
Why should you eat goji berries?
The answer is simple! Goji berries are considered to be one of the most nutritionally rich fruits on this earth. The nutrients that are contained in these berries are innumerable. Mostly well known for their high content of antioxidant plant-derived polyphenolic compounds including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, lycopene and zeaxanthin, goji berries are also a rich source of plenty of vitamins (A, C, B1, B2, B6 and E) and contain about 30 minerals (both essential and trace) such as zinc, iron, copper, calcium, selenium, and phosphorus. They provide you with 18 amino acids and are a good source of polysaccharides. These berries are also a wonderful source of protein and dietary fiber. Pretty impressive list of nutrients, isn’t it?
Health benefits of Goji Berries
Bursting with so much of nutrition, it is no wonder why goji berries fall under the category of super foods. Goji berries are long used in traditional Chinese and Tibetian medicines. Needless to say, the health benefits that you get by eating this fruit regularly are numerous too.
Goji berries for beautiful and young looking skin
For those who are interested in natural ways to boost skin health, eating Goji berries is the way to go. Because of its skin care benefits, these berries have been used in many topical creams, lotions and many other skin care products. The plethora of nutrients found in goji berries has been proven to benefit your skin in many ways. The powerful antioxidants in these berries help in reducing inflammation and in protecting your skin from sun damage. Plus, these antioxidants fight off the free radicals that are responsible for causing wrinkles, skin sagging and age spots. Vitamin E in Goji berries helps in hydrating your skin and in keeping it healthy and glowing. This fruit has detoxifying properties that helps in getting rid of impurities and contaminants from your skin, leaving it clear and blemish-free.
Hair benefits of goji berries
The various nutrients in goji berries promote the healthy growth of your hair. The high amounts of vitamin C in this fruit stimulate the production of collagen, which is very essential for hair growth. These nutrients also make your hair follicles strong, prevents hair loss and graying of hair.
Goji berries have anti-aging properties
Goji berries are probably most famous for their remarkable anti-aging effects. This quality can be attributed to the high levels of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals in this fruit. The antioxidants help in preventing cell damage brought about by free radicals and thus prevents premature aging. The various nutrients work in unison to improve your immune system and keep you safe from diseases and ailments. Goji Seed Oil is used in various cosmetic formulation for wrinkles, scars, blemishes and stretch marks.
Goji berries for cancer
Free radicals are responsible for causing oxidation damage to your cells, leading to damage or early death of healthy cells, a contributing factor to a range of degenerative diseases and conditions like cancer. This is where the antioxidants can help you. Foods such as goji berries that are rich in antioxidants can destroy these free radicals and hence lower your risks of developing cancer. Some studies have found that the antioxidants in these berries can prevent the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. In addition to antioxidants, goji berries also contain polysaccharides that have been found to be effective in preventing the growth of different types of cancers cells like colon, breast, gastric and prostate cancer cells.
Goji berries boost your energy
Having goji berries for breakfast can help you kick start your day will full energy that will last throughout the day. This fruit is an adaptogen that provides many therapeutic properties. It strengthens your body and synchronizes the various functions of your body, thus causing an increase in stamina, energy and strength. Goji berry is sometimes called “happy berry” as it alleviates mood and makes you feel optimistic and positive.
Goji berries are heart healthy
The high amounts antioxidants in goji berries have been found to be effective in lowering LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in the blood. By lowering LDL and by promoting blood flow, these berries help in preventing the accumulation of plaque in your arteries, thus reducing your risk of serious heart diseases. The nutrients in goji berries are also helpful in fighting high blood pressure. The various nutrients in these berries that can control high blood pressure include polysaccharides, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, potassium, calcium and zinc. By lowering cholesterol and high blood pressure, goji berries help in keeping your heart healthy and disease free.
Goji berries are effective stress busters
When you are stressed, the hormone cortisol is released in to your blood stream. Goji berries help in fighting stress by reducing the amount of cortisol released. These berries also contain vitamin B1 and magnesium that help in enhancing your mood and also in promoting better sleep.
Goji berries and digestive health
Goji berries help in improving your digestive system and also in preventing various digestive disorders like gastroenteritis, ulcers, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation and gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Goji berries improve eye health
Goji berries are an excellent source of vitamin A, beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, all of which have been linked to improve the health of your eyes and vision. These nutrients are helpful in protecting your vision, and also in preventing eye disorders like night blindness, cataract and macular degeneration.
Goji berries for better sleep
If you are suffering from insomnia or sleeplessness, eating goji berries regularly can help you. These berries contain compounds that promote good sleeping patterns.
Goji berries strengthens your immunity
Goji berries are rich in nutrients like beta carotene, polysaccharides and germanium that help in boosting your immunity. Beta- carotene is a powerful antioxidant that helps in stimulating your thymus gland, which is an important part of your immune system. Germanium and is a mineral that has anti-cancer properties. Polysaccharides are also compounds that play a major role in improving the functioning of your immune system.
Goji berries for autoimmune disorders
Autoimmune disorder is a condition where your immune system attacks the healthy cells of your body. People having this disorder may find relief from the symptoms by including goji berries in their regular diet. The high content of polysaccharides found in these berries provides specialized sugars to your cells, which helps your immune system to differentiate between the healthy cells and the outside invaders.
Goji berries improve brain health
Studies reveal that goji berries have neuroprotective effects that help in protecting your brain from the harmful effects of amyloid protein, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease. According to scientists, this remarkable feature of the berries may open new doors in finding an effective remedy for preventing Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to protecting your brain, goji berries also improve brain health and the overall mental well being of an individual.
Goji berries help you lose weight
Goji berries are low glycemic index foods that help in controlling your appetite by keeping you satiated. The fiber in these berries help you feel full for a very long time, thus preventing overeating. Goji berries contain nutrients like vitamin B1, calcium and other minerals that promote improved metabolism so that the food you eat is converted to energy rather than being stored as fat. This is very effective in maintaining weight loss and in preventing weight gain.
Goji berries helps in managing diabetes
Goji berries have been long used in China for treating type II diabetes. The high amounts of polysaccharides in these berries have been found to help in balancing blood sugar levels and in improving insulin response.
Goji berries improve sexual function and libido
Asian medicine considers goji berries as a very effective sexual tonic herb that helps to increase sexual desire and passion. According to studies, these berries increase the level of testosterone in the blood, hence increasing libido in men and women alike.
Possible side effects of goji berries
Although goji berries are extremely nutritious and health promoting, they may cause allergic reactions in some people. These berries appear to be safe when consumed in moderation. Some medicines like warfarin are found to interact with this fruit. These berries have also been found to interact with medicines used to treat blood pressure and diabetes. Allergic reactions to goji berries have been reported.
You can enjoy eating these berries raw or in dried form or as goji berry juice. Its young shoots and leaves are used for cooking as green vegetables. Various recipes are made from goji berry – some common include wine or beer, tea, jellies.
Goji berry truffles
Blend a cup of dried organic goji berries, 10-16 soaked almond nuts and ¼ cup of grated fresh coconut. Roll this paste in small balls. Melt some dark chocolate chips and a teaspoon of vanilla flavor. Drop the truffle balls in melted chocolate and gently swirl so tha
t it coats the entire balls uniformly. Remove them with spoon and place them on parchment paper. Refrigerate in freezer for 30-40 minutes. Your goji truffles are ready.
Despite the fact that goji berries have been around for several thousands of years, their popularity increased just over the past few years because of their amazing nutrient density. These berries are not only very sweet and delicious to eat but are also inexpensive and extremely beneficial for your health.Image Credits: Temperature Climate Permaculture, Flickr - Miheco