Goji, or wolfberry, is used in traditional Chinese medicine and in food preparations in China. Wolfberry is actually divided into two sub-species, which are known as Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense, both belonging to the Solanaceae family. Wolfberry is native to China but is also grown in warmer regions around the world, including Australia, North America, the Mediterranean basin, Central Asia, and Southwest Asia. China is the biggest exporter of wolfberry in the world.
The health benefits of goji berry include its ability to strengthen the immune system, improve eyesight, lower cholesterol levels, and control diabetes. Goji berry also provides improved liver health, cardiovascular protection, cancer prevention, and protection of brain cells and skin from UV radiations.
What is Wolfberry ?
Goji, goji berry, or wolfberry, is the fruit of either Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense, two closely related species of boxthorn in the nightshade family, Solanaceae.
Both species are native to Asia, and have been long used in traditional Asian cuisine. The fruits are similar but can be distinguished by small but significant differences in taste, sugar content, and content of the aminoacid betaine.
The fruit has also been an ingredient in traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese medicine, since at least the 3rd century CE. The plant parts are called by the Latin names lycii fructus (fruit), herba lycii (leaves), etc., in modern official pharmacopeias.
Since about 2000, goji berry and derived products became common in the West as health foods or alternative medicine remedies extending from exaggerated and unproven claims about their health benefits.
Nutritional Value of Goji Berry
Dried goji berries contain calories, carbohydrates, fat, dietary fiber, sugar, and protein. The minerals and vitamins found in goji berries include sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin C, carotene, thiamin, riboflavin, lutein, lycopene, zeaxanthin, polysaccharides, betaine, and peptidoglycans.
Gojiberry Powder/ Wolfberry Powder
Lycium barbarum L.
10%-50% Polysaccharides 10:1 ;20:1;
Yellow Brown fine powder
What Are the benefits of Goji Berry?
Diabetes has emerged as one of the major diseases in the world in modern times. Controlling or preventing diabetes is absolutely necessary, as it can lead to the development of several other diseases such as obesity, heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and ocular diseases. One of the major health benefits of consuming goji berries is that it can help in controlling diabetes. Recent studies suggest that the fruit extracts of goji berries possess considerable hypoglycemic properties.
Controls Cholesterol Levels
Cholesterol is one of the major reasons for the development of heart diseases. Cholesterol forms plaque-like structures inside the blood vessels and arteries that obstruct the blood flow. This, in turn, causes the heart to pump with higher force, resulting in heart weakening, which can be followed by a heart attack. For starters, cholesterol is of two types. One is HDL or high-density lipid cholesterol, which is good cholesterol, and the other is LDL or low-density lipid cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol. It is the LDL or bad cholesterol that forms plaque and leads to heart weakening. Recent studies have shown that the intake of goji berries reduces LDL cholesterol levels.
Free Radical Scavenging
Antioxidants, as the name suggests, are a wide range of chemicals that react and neutralize the action of free radicals produced in our body. Free radicals, if left alone, can damage our tissues, cells, cell membranes, and DNA over time, resulting in the development of various diseases. Research has suggested that the consumption of goji may help in the reduction of medical conditions related to free radicals. The antioxidants present in goji berry also help in boosting the immune system.
Free radicals can attack the heart, just like any other organ. Although this happens over a long period of time, it is still required to take precautionary measures. Goji berry contains anti-oxidant chemicals that protect the heart from the attack of free radicals. Recent studies have noted significant free radical scavenging in the heart by goji berry extracts.
Maintains Healthy Body
The health benefits of goji berry include general well-being and a healthy body. Results of a study conducted suggest that consumption of goji berry enhances and improves gastrointestinal functions and reduces stress and fatigue. It also improves neurological and psychological performance as well.
Goji berry was not only eaten as food in ancient days; the Chinese also used it to treat cancer in their traditional medicine. Scientific investigations about goji berry extracts revealed various anti-cancerous properties. They were tested on human cancer cells, which showed considerable control over their growth. Apoptosis, or sudden cell death, was observed for cancer cells when goji berry extracts were administered.
Protects Brain Cells
Free radicals can attack neurons or brain cells and these damaged brain cells can develop neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases can be effectively countered by consuming goji berry. Goji berry extracts have shown significant neuroprotective activity. The team that conducted research ascertained that goji berry possesses anti-aging effects and has suggested it as a preventive medicine.
Prevents Liver Damage
The liver is one of the most resilient organs in our body and it can protect itself from chemical, free radical, and physical damages. Goji berry has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine to treat liver diseases. The extracts of goji berry showed free radical scavenging and other protective properties in terms of maintaining liver health.
Ultraviolet radiation is one of the threats that we are all facing, due to the depletion of the ozone layer in several parts of the world. The exposure of the skin to UV radiation can result in skin damage and even skin cancer in extreme cases. We can reduce this risk by consuming goji berries. Studies have shown that goji berries significantly reduce skin inflammation and immune suppression, owing to their antioxidant potential.
Improves Sleep Quality
Some of the traditional Chinese uses of goji berry were to induce sleep and reduce stress. Research has shown that goji berry, when given to human subjects, improved their quality of sleep significantly without having any adverse effects.
Increases Semen & Sperm Quality
Goji berry has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as an aphrodisiac. Scientific studies on the aphrodisiac properties of goji berry concluded that it can reduce damage caused to the testes and provide protection against oxidative stress due to the presence of hydrogen peroxide in it. Hydrogen peroxide can decrease semen count as well as sperm quality.
Goji berry, due to its antioxidant properties, also helps in improving eyesight. The antioxidants protect the eyes from free radicals that may cause loss of eyesight, cataracts, and other eye-related disorders.
Side Effects of Goji Berry
While goji berries are powerful antioxidant and also have many other health benefits, there are some side effects that we need to be aware of.
There could be possible drug-herb interactions for those who take blood thinning medications – especially warfarin. Warfarin is used to treat those with blood clots resulting from pulmonary embolus or deep vein thrombosis. This medication can prevent blood clots and reduce the chance of heart attacks and strokes.
Those taking warfarin must indicate this to their doctor for it interacts with both prescription and non-prescription medications and herbal supplements.
So, anyone taking warfarin must avoid taking goji berries. Blood pressure and diabetes medications could also interact adversely with goji berries. The natural qualities of goji berries can affect pancreatic functioning and insulin production. This is why diabetic patients must consult their doctors if they start eating goji berries.
Those who suffer from pollen allergies may need to avoid these berries. Typical allergy symptoms include nasal congestion, itchy eyes, sneezing, wheezing, itchy skin and hives.
How to Use Goji Berry?
Most supermarkets sell dried goji berries prepackaged and in the bulk section. You can also find them fresh. Treat them like raisins or fresh berries. Mix them into your breakfast cereal or yogurt, add them to your trail mix, or drink it as juice or tea.
Goji berries also taste great cooked with lean pork or turkey, adding a savory sweetness to hearty dishes. Plus, their vitamin C content also will help your body absorb the meat’s iron.
Eating two or more servings of fruit a day is usually recommended for optimum health benefits.
Be sure to buy your goji berries from a reputable source, even though they tend to be expensive. Cheaper or imported brands have been known to contain sulfites. Sulfites can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Goji berries are generally considered safe for most people. Although some people report mild digestive issues when they first starting eating them. This can be a common side effect. If you have any chronic digestive or gastrointestinal issues, ask your doctor before using goji berries as a remedy.
How to Store?
Store dried goji berries in a cool, dark place (your pantry is just fine). They'll keep for at least a year, though brands that package the berries with added preservatives may advertise a longer shelf life. Make sure to keep the dried berries away from moisture to prevent them from clumping.
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