The Power of Goji

Author: Winston Craig, MPH, PhD, RD.

Dried Goji berries

It has been called the fountain of youth, adding 20 years to your life. It fights cancer cells and heart disease, supercharges your immune system, and improves your love life. Such is the power of the Himalayan Goji berry, according to one web site. People are willing to pay high prices for the juice from the Goji berry because they believe it has these extraordinary health benefits. Sadly, overzealous marketers have displayed too much hype in promoting goji juice. Invalid or overstated health claims are often made for the juice by those involved with multi-level marketing schemes.

Rich in Antioxidants

 Goji berries are touted as a superfruit because of their high antioxidant and polyphenolic content.Goji juice is often mixed with noni, pomegranate, blueberry or açai juice to produce a beverage very high in antioxidants. These products are often labeled as a functional juice, suggesting it has benefits beyond simple nutrition. The antioxidants do protect body cells from free radical damage which would accelerate cancer and heart disease.

Red Diamonds

The Chinese wolfberry, Lycium barbarum, is the evergreen shrub that produces the fruit that is commercially known as Goji berry. The wolfberry belongs to the same family as the potato, tomato and eggplant. The bright orange-red Goji berries are about one inch long and contain 10-60 tiny yellow seeds. When eaten in moderation, goji berries appear to be safe. The plant grows in Tibet, Mongolia and neighboring Western China.

In Asia, Goji berries have been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer and are used by Chinese health practitioners who practice traditional Chinese medicine to treat common health problems such as high blood pressure, inflammations, fever, poor vision, and other conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the leaves of the Chinese wolfberry can be used in a tea, together with the root bark. The latter has some antibacterial and antifungal activity.

Many Formats

The berries can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried. They are also made into a juice or a herbal tea. Dried wolfberries are often added to rice, soups or vegetable dishes. Wolfberries are prized for their versatility of color and nut-like taste in common meals, snacks, beverages, and medicinal applications. Today, Goji is commonly available as dried berries, a juice, as well as being added to granola bars and yogurt.

Goji Berries Are Rich In Micronutrients

The dried berries are a good source of the minerals potassium, calcium, iron, selenium and zinc. Its vitamin C content is comparable to citrus fruit, strawberries, and other berries. Wolfberries are a very rich source of the carotenoid, zeaxanthin, which helps protect against macular degeneration of the eye. Other carotenoids present in the berries help keep the immune system functioning properly.

Goji juice is a refreshing, healthy beverage and is safe to drink unless you are taking the blood thinner warfarin. In this situation there may be the danger of episodes of bleeding. In addition, goji berries may also interact with diabetes and blood pressure medication.

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