Goji Berries are Nutritional Powerhouse You Should Be Eating

Goji berries are relatively unfamiliar in the U.S.  As a main ingredient in our An Ox Muesli (short for ANtiOXidant), we get lots of questions about this little berry.  The popularity of the goji berry is quickly on the rise due to it’s health benefits. The goji berry, also known as the wolfberry or, scientifically, Lycium barbarum, has long been recognised in traditional Chinese medicine for various therapeutic properties based on its antioxidant and immune-modulating effects.  Goji berries have been cultivated in the Himalayan valleys of Tibet, Mongolia, and China for hundreds of years.

Goji berries have a very unique tangy and slightly sweet flavor.  The best description I have heard is a “cross between a strawberry, raspberry, and cranberry,” if you can imagine that.  Goji berries are typically dried as soon as they are shaken from the bush, so fresh goji berries are very uncommon.  The texture of a dried goji berry is similar to that of a raisin, with slightly less moisture so they are chewier.

The amount of information on the health benefits of goji berries is mind boggling.  Here’s just a few highlights from published medical research articles:

“Daily dietary supplementation with goji berry for 90 days increases plasma zeaxanthin and antioxidant levels as well as protects from hypopigmentation and soft drusen accumulation in the macula of elderly subjects.”  If you can make sense of that, you probably have an optometry degree.  After conferring with a friend in optometry school, this basically indicates goji berries may be very good for eye health, particularly with aging and prevention of cataracts.
Bucheli P, Vidal K, Shen L, Gu Z, Zhang C, Miller LE, Wang J. “Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optometry and Vision Science. February 2011

“Consuming fruits and vegetables with a high-ORAC value may help slow the aging process in both body and brain.”  Goji berries are incredibly high in antioxidants.  With an ORAC value of 25,300, they are the second highest fruit and nearly double that of blueberries.  
Ronald L. Prior, James A. Joseph, Guohua Cao, and Barbara Shukitt-Hale  “Can Foods Forestall Aging?” Agricultural Research Magazine. February 1999

“The in vitro results showed that LBP can dose- and time-dependently inhibit the growth of both PC-3 and DU-145 cells.” Goji berries may inhibit the growth of prostate cancer cells.  (LBP=Lycium barbarum polysaccharides=Goji Berry.  PC-3 and DU-145 cells=prostate cancer cell lines.)
Luo Q, Li Z, Yan J, Zhu F, Xu RJ, Cai YZ. “Lycium barbarum polysaccharides induce apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells and inhibits prostate cancer growth in a xenograft mouse model of human prostate cancer.” Journal of Medicinal Food. Aug 2009

“Antioxidant activity in the skin was demonstrated by the significant protection by 5% goji juice against lipid peroxidation induced by UVA radiation.” UV rays can be hard to avoid all the time so having goji berries in your system may help the damage the UV rays can induce.
Reeve VE, Allanson M, Arun SJ, Domanski D, Painter N. “Mice drinking goji berry juice (Lycium barbarum) are protected from UV radiation-induced skin damage via antioxidant pathways.” Photochemical & photobiological sciences. April 2010

“Results indicate that LBP was effective in preventing oxidative stress after exhaustive exercise.” Excercise, while very important, also causes significant oxidative stress.  Goji berries may be a great way to prevent this.
Shan X, Zhou J, Ma T, Chai Q. “Lycium barbarum Polysaccharides Reduce Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress.” International journal of molecular sciences. Feb 2011

It’s clear that even a small amount may provide many health benefits.  These are just a few of the many articles published about goji berries.  The other benefits will certainly be a topic of future blog posts.

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