Goji Berries: The Ultimate Health Guide

Red goji berries

You’ve probably heard about goji berry benefits, but how true are they?

These red berries have been used as a traditional medicine in ancient China. They are known to help treat eye and liver diseases, boost energy and stamina, and promote longevity among their other health rewards.

Otherwise called wolfberries, goji berries are considered a nutritional powerhouse. They are low in calories but high in antioxidants and fiber, making them a great addition to a healthy diet.

Read on and discover how goji berries can help boost your immune system, promote weight loss, control blood sugar levels, and promote eye and skin health!

We’ve also included some tips on how you can incorporate these wonder berries into your nutritional meal plans.

What Are Goji Berries?

Goji berries or wolfberries are the edible fruits of the Lycium barbarum tree native to southeast Europe and Asia. These delicate red berries have been used in China as a traditional medicine for over 2,000 years.

These sweet-tasting berries are chock-full of important nutrients such as vitamins A and C, protein, zinc, iron, and fiber. What’s more, goji berries contain 11 essential amino acids and powerful antioxidants.

The impressive goji berry health benefits are attributed to the fruit’s unique antioxidants known as Lycium barbarum polysaccharides.

Typically eaten raw in its dried form, goji berries can also be taken as a juice, tea, tablets or extracts.

Goji Berries: Interesting Facts

Here are some interesting facts about goji berries that you probably didn’t know yet:

  • According to legend, a Chinese herbalist named Li Qing Yuen lived to be 256 years old. He was said to have lived off a diet that included goji berries and other herbs, and rice wine.

  • Goji berries are packed with more vitamin C than oranges. They are also richer in iron compared with steak and contain higher amounts of beta-carotene than carrots.

  • Ningxia, an autonomous region in China and a major base of wolfberry plantation in the country, celebrates wolfberries festival every August, with the annual celebration coinciding with the berry harvest.

What are the Health Benefits of Goji Berries?

All berries are great sources of mighty antioxidants perfect for any health and wellness regimen. Goji berries are a perfect example of nutrient-packed berries that make a wonderful addition to diets.

Let’s take a look at how goji berries can help boost your health:

Goji berries help control blood sugar levels

If you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to gain weight, sweet goji berries just might be your newest favorite treat!

Animal studies show that goji berries have the potential to improve blood sugar control by improving sugar tolerance, reducing insulin resistance, and decreasing the levels of blood sugar.

A 2005 study discovered that rats with type 2 diabetes had lower blood sugar levels after consuming goji berry extract daily for three weeks.

A separate study provided support for these findings. The research found that the polysaccharides in goji berries decreased the blood glucose of diabetic rats.

Goji berries are low in calories, so you don’t have to worry about stretching your waistline when you consume it as a sweet treat. Just make sure that you are enjoying them in appropriate amounts.

If you have low blood sugar levels, it is best to see your doctor first. Seek professional advice on whether goji berries are safe to add to your diet since they have these blood sugar-reducing effects.

And should you start to eat them on a regular basis, you may also want to monitor your blood sugar levels more often.

Goji berries may promote weight loss

Goji berries also contain certain substances that may aid in weight loss. For example, these wonder berries contain high amounts of fiber, which help suppress appetite by keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

Goji berries are also low in glycemic index. Low-GI foods such as goji berries may improve weight control as they enhance satiety, sustain insulin sensitivity, and reduce postprandial insulin secretion.

There’s more:

Some studies also revealed that goji berries may also boost metabolic rate, suggesting that the berries may increase calorie burning.

One study found that overweight men and women showed improvement in their metabolic rate and reduced their waist circumference after consuming goji berry fruit juice.

So, if you’re craving for something sweet, snack on these low-calorie, low-sugar berries instead of sugar-filled candies and treats. You can also use them as a substitute for raisins, and toss them into your salad or yogurt.

Goji berries boost your immune system

The important nutrients and agents contained in goji berries are found to be beneficial in supporting the immune system. Several studies, in fact, provided evidence for this.

A 2009 study found that goji berry juice significantly improved several immune responses. The study participants also experienced enhanced general well-being after daily consumption of the fruit juice.

There’s more:

Some animal studies also concluded that goji berries may contribute to boosting immunity by activating T lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in the immune system.

These findings suggest that these wonder berries can help prevent infections and provide protection against the flu.

Goji berries promote eye health

These wonder berries also make a great snack for eye health. Several studies found that their powerful antioxidant properties help prevent several eye issues from developing.

One study found that subjects who took daily goji berry supplement for 90 days enhanced their plasma antioxidant levels, and reduced hypopigmentation and soft drusen, which is a risk factor for macular degeneration.

The findings suggest that the high amounts of zeaxanthin in goji berries can help promote eye health, especially among elderly people.

Goji berries improve energy levels

Looking for a healthy energy booster? Try goji berries! Apparently, goji berry extract has benefits for your energy and overall feelings of well-being, too!

A study found that healthy adults had improved energy levels, athletic performance, sleep quality, focus, mental acuity, and felt healthier, more calm and content, and happier after taking goji berry daily for 14 days.

There’s more:

The research also discovered that goji berry also significantly decreased stress levels and fatigue, and enhanced gastrointestinal function.

The findings conclude that the daily consumption of goji berry may help boost energy levels, improve overall feelings of well-being, and enhance mental performance.

Goji berries boost skin health

Goji berries not only improves eye health but skin health, too! Foods that are high in antioxidants such as goji berries help prevent free radicals from threatening collagen, an essential building block of the skin.

Some small studies found that goji berry extract has the potential to delaying the aging of cells by suppressing glycation and boosting DNA synthesis.

An animal study found that goji berry’s polysaccharide inhibited non-enzyme glycation, an aging mechanism, in aging rat models.

That’s not all:

A test-tube study discovered that goji berry extract accelerates the DNA synthesis in certain fusion cells, guarding them against damage that often causes aging.

Goji berries boost sexual performance

Goji berries have also been associated with improved sexual performance.

It was also revealed that these mighty berries are beneficial in male reproduction as they increase sperm quality, quantity, and motility, boost sexual performance and protect the testis against toxic insults.

How to Add Goji Berries to Your Diet?

Dried goji berries

You can buy fresh goji berries or pre-packaged dried goji berries in supermarkets. They can be enjoyed as you would fresh strawberries or raisins. Below are some tasty ways on how you can add goji berries to your diet:

  • You can add dried goji berries to your trail mix, breakfast yogurt or cereal.

  • You can drink goji berries as a tea or juice.

  • Goji berries make a nice addition to savory dishes made with turkey or lean pork.

  • Perk up your smoothies by throwing in a handful of goji berries. Be sure to soak them in water for 10 minutes first to make them plump and juicy.

  • Instead of raisins, you can add goji berries to your scones and muffins.

  • Chinese cuisine makes use of goji berries in soups. You can try this out, too!

Goji berries are super easy to add to a number of yummy recipe ideas, but be sure to source your berries from reputable sources even though they may be more expensive.

Some brands have been reported to contain sulfites, which can have adverse effects ranging from dermatitis, abdominal pain and diarrhea to life-threatening asthmatic reactions, especially in sensitive individuals.

What are the Potential Risks of Eating Goji Berries?

Before adding goji berries to your diet, it’s best to talk to your doctor as they may interact with certain medications and health conditions. For instance, people with low blood sugar are advised to avoid goji berries.

If you are taking blood thinners such as warfarin or diabetes medications, you are also strongly advised to refrain from eating these berries as doing so may cause adverse effects.

Breastfeeding or pregnant women must also avoid goji berries as they can cause miscarriage. If you are allergic to the fruit, goji berry consumption is also restricted.

Takeaway

Several studies provide support for the supposed health benefits of goji berries. Adding these wonder berries to your diet may let you enjoy its health perks. Remember, though, to consume them in moderation.

Also, these berries are more expensive than most fruits. If you wish to savor some of their amazing health benefits without spending too much, the NHS recommends taking alternatives such as green tea or wheatgrass.


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