If you strive to eat healthy foods rich in valuable nutrients the chances are high you have come across the term superfood. It is a term used to describe foods with healthy compounds and numerous health benefits. Goji berries belong to the superfood group and throughout this article we will discuss their health benefits.
What are Goji Berries?
Goji berries are bright orange-red berries that come from a shrub which is native to Himalayan Mountains of Tibet, China, and Mongolia. In Asia, these berries have been eaten for generations as “tool” to help individuals live longer. You may know Goji berries by their other names such as wolfberries or Tibetan Goji.
Goji berries belong to the Nightshade family Solanaceae, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, chili peppers, eggplants, belladonna, etc. Although they were introduced to the Western country only recently, these berries have been used in Asia for thousands of years for both culinary and medical purposes.
Nutritional Value of Goji Berries
Goji berries are one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. They contain health-promoting compounds like:
- 18 amino acids, including all eight essential amino acids for our health
- 6 essential fatty acids
- 21 trace minerals e.g. copper, calcium, germanium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, selenium, zinc, etc.
- Vitamins A, B, C, and E
- Antioxidants, including Zeaxanthin, SOD or superoxide dismutase, polysaccharides, beta-carotene, etc.
- Protein, dietary fiber.
Eating just ¼ cup of Goji berries would provide your body with:
- 90 calories and 4 grams of protein
- 180% of daily value of Vitamin A
- 30% of daily value of Vitamin C
- 15% of daily value of iron etc.
Health Benefits of Goji Berries
As it was mentioned above, Goji berries have been used for thousands of years in Asia due to their healing benefits.
- According to some studies Goji berries contain a high level of antioxidants, especially Zeaxanthin, which gives them their beautiful color. Antioxidants help in disease prevention and protect cells from free radicals. These berries also contain starches called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides which improve our immunity system and reduce fatigue that is associated with living at high altitude.
- A study conducted in China discovered that a standardized dosage of Goji berry extract given over a trial that lasted one month helped increase levels of protective antioxidant liver enzymes and reduced oxidative blood damage by 10%.
- Zeaxanthin from Goji berries is easily absorbed and has a beneficial effect on our eyes as well. It coats the lining of our eyes, keeps them youthful, and helps maintain night-vision.
- Moreover, the wolfberries are known as beauty food throughout Asia due to their positive effect on our skin. Eating an ounce or two of Goji berries a day keeps your skin smooth, silky in nourished. It happens because these berries are rich in phospholipids which are the main lipid component of cell membranes. Additionally, they contain high levels of Vitamin C, which is used for the production of collagen.
- Along with improved elasticity and smoothness of the skin, collagen also keeps blood vessels, cartilage, tendons, and ligament healthy. Further, it speeds up healing of the wounds and aids in the repair and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones.
- Goji berries are a great source of Betaine, which is a phytonutrient with a wide range of health benefits in our body. It has the soothing effect on our nerves, improves the memory, protects the liver, and one of the most important benefits of this compound is the fact it protects our cardiovascular system as well. Studies showed that Betaine reduces toxic levels of homocysteine. It is an amino acid with the ability to damage our blood vessels. Additionally, Goji berries lower LDL cholesterol, prevents inflammation, and regulates blood sugar.
- These berries are also known as a happy fruit because they are known for improving the mood.
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- Libido etc.
Due to the high level of antioxidants which fight free radicals and flush away the toxins from our body, these berries are of extreme importance for preventing cancer.
Moreover, Goji berries are known for their significant role in weight loss programs. They are low in calories, have healthy compounds that boost metabolism, and also act as appetite suppressants; which are crucial for losing weight. It is why many dietitians recommend eating these berries to reach target weight in a healthy manner.
Ways to use Goji Berries
Goji berries are versatile, and you can eat them in various ways. For example:
- Trail mix
- In muffins and scones
- Make energy bars with Goji berries, almonds, walnuts, and dates
- Add to soups (popular in traditional Chinese cuisine).
They are sold in dried, raw, forms as well as in juices and teas. You can also buy them raw and make juice, tea, smoothie, or dry them yourself. Their versatility lets you experiment and come up with your ideal Goji berry solution.
Goji berries belong to a group of superfood due to their tasty flavor, great nutritional value, and numerous health benefits. These berries are still subjected to many researches whose aim is to inspect thoroughly and confirm all their beneficial effects.