Lycium barbarum is a plant native to Asia and parts of Europe and the berries from this plant, goji berries, have been a component of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. Thought to support vision, blood flow, and cough, these little red berries have become quite popular in the United States, even being dubbed a superfood. They are available in dried form or as a juice and can be eaten alone as a snack, added to recipes, or sprinkled onto a salad.
Goji Berry Benefits
What makes goji berries so nutritious? Well, their high antioxidant content is often cited as their most impressive feature. That, and the other nutrients found goji berries, are responsible for a wide range of other health benefits. Let's take a look at just a few.
1. Goji Berries Are Good for You
FreeLife International conducted the first 15-day double-blind, clinical trial outside of China to evaluate the general effects of consuming goji berries. The test subjects, healthy human adults, were evaluated on feelings of well-being, neurological characteristics, and overall body system complaints. When the day 1-15 data was analyzed for changes, significant increases in energy, athletic performance, sleep quality, focus, and happiness were reported by the group that consumed goji berries. They also reported a significant improvement in gastrointestinal regularity. The placebo group did not report these improvements. Researchers concluded that daily consumption of goji berries might improve overall well-being, and improve psychological performance and gastrointestinal functions.
2. Goji Berries May Strengthen the Immune System
Using 60 healthy adults who were between the ages of 55-72, another randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study evaluated the effects of consuming goji berry juice. The group given the goji berry juice showed a significant increase in white blood cell count and immune system activity. Conversely, the group given placebo showed no immune system improvement. And, again, the group given goji berry juice said their well-being increased and showed similar memory and focus improvements. No negative side effects were reported from consuming goji berry juice. Did the group who were given goji berry juice experience more health benefits than the placebo group? Researchers said yes.
3. Goji Berries Support Good Health
Every year we hear about the latest influenza epidemic and every year we're told it's time to get a flu shot. Wouldn't it be nice to get a protective benefit naturally? Goji berries may be the answer. Long appreciated as an exceptionally nutritious food in China and shown to improve immune response in animals and people, goji berries might help you avoid the flu. The Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center at Tufts University tested this hypothesis in an experiment that involved adult mice who were fed a goji berry preparation for four weeks then infected with the flu. The goji berry preparation appeared to heighten immune response, and researchers concluded that goji berry supplementation may reduce health interruptions by reducing irritation and promoting immune activity.
4. Goji Berries Are Good for Your Eyes
The high antioxidant content of goji berries is believed to sharpen vision. A Swiss study evaluated the effect that a daily goji preparation had on eye health and antioxidant levels using healthy subjects ages 65-70. Eye examinations were administered to evaluate eye health, blood was drawn to gauge antioxidant levels. Eye health in the group given goji berries remained constant (as opposed to worsening) and their antioxidant levels increased significantly by 57 percent. Researchers concluded that a 90-day goji berry supplementation plan increases antioxidant levels and offers elderly subjects an edge against macular degeneration. Additionally, National Taiwan University conducted a study that found goji berries may help protect diabetics from diabetes-induced eye damage.
Snack on Goji Berries!
In general, research has repeatedly shown that including berries in your diet can positively impact your health and performance. Goji berries are one of several exotic berries, including pomegranates, mangosteens, and acai, that have become very popular in recent years and rightfully so — these things are packed with healthy goodness. When selecting goji berries, always go organic and also know that wild grown berries have been shown to contain higher antioxidant levels than berries that have been cultivated.
How do you like to enjoy goji berries? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us.
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.