King Of The Antioxidants - Goji Berry

The King of Antioxidants is also known as the ‘Happy Berry’ for How it Makes You Feel! Goji berries have earned the reputation of being the “gateway herb” in that they’re an easy place to start for beginners, yet they still pack a solid herbal punch, loaded with tons of nutrition.

For that reason, some consider them the #1 herb in Chinese Medicine.

In the past five to ten years these have gone from virtually unknown to even being inside regular gas stations! They’re known as the “Happy Berry” for how they can make you feel, studies showing improvements in feelings of well-being.

What Is The Goji Berry?

The goji berry, also known as the wolfberry, is a member of the Solanaceae or nightshade family of plants. It’s a bright orange-red berry commonly grown in the north-central and western areas of China. The ripe berry is easily damaged during picking, so it’s common for them to be carefully dried to preserve them before export. In the UK, they are commonly eaten as the dried fruit or as a component of fruit juice.

Goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to manage diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, age-related eye problems and fatigue associated with living at high altitudes. Goji berries are eaten raw, cooked, or dried (like raisins) and are used in herbal teas, juices, wines and medicines. The benefits of goji berries on human health are limited at the moment, although purified extracts from these berries seem to show some health benefits in animal research and a limited number of human studies.

Antioxidant Powerhouse

The ORAC value (oxygen radical absorption capability, a process used to determine antioxidant levels) of goji berries is commonly stated to be over 25000. Contrast this to blueberries, often touted for their antioxidant levels, at around 7000.

Further goji berries assist the body in increasing supply of their internal antioxidants like glutathione and superoxide dismutase

Goji Berries Nutrition

Beyond the polysaccharides, goji berries are very nutrient packed, even more so than most berries.
• Zeaxanthin
• Beta-Carotene
• Quercitin
• Kaempferol
• Vitamin C
• Bioflavonoids
• Vitamin B1 and B2
• Vitamin E
• Polyphenols (caffeic acid, coumaric acid, rutin, scopoletin, feruloyl tyramines)
• Betaine
• Beta-sitosterol
• Amino Acids (contains 18 amino acids)
• Sodium
• Calcium
• Iron
• Trace Minerals

The blue-red colours found in goji berries, blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, strawberries, and cherries are natural anti-oxidants which may help protect the body from oxidative damage. Also Goji berries contain complex starches called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides which may benefit the immune function, and may reduce fatigue associated with living at high altitude.

Antioxidants temper the destructive power of free radicals, substances occurring naturally in our body but if produced in excess accelerate cell damage and destruction. Chinese research has shown a standardised dose of goji berry extract given over a month-long trial helped boost levels of protective anti-oxidant liver enzymes, and reduced by-products of oxidative damage in the blood by almost 10%. It’s worth noting that although this research is promising, the test samples of goji berries were highly purified to contain a standard amount of the active ingredient, ‘Lycium barbarum polysaccharides’, which may not reflect the same content of goji berries bought at the health food shop or supermarket.

Goji berries also have compounds rich in vitamin A that may also confer health benefits. Vitamin A and its derivatives may protect against skin damage, helps maintain night- vision, and benefits the immune system.
Some researchers suggest that goji berry extracts may improve mood, and protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's, but there is no robust medical evidence to support these claims.

In summary, goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants with preliminary research showing some potential health benefits when taken in a standardised form - but there’s not enough sound evidence to recommend them solely for their health benefits.

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