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Goji berry – Lycium barbarum, also commonly known as the wolfberry is a brightly colored fruit native to the Tibetan Himalayas, Mongolia, and China. Goji berries grow on evergreen shrubs that densely populate the temperate forests in Asia.
This bright red berry, when raw, grows only enough to fit the size of your pinky finger’s tip. Similar to most other berries, e.g. blueberries and raspberries, the goji berry is rich in antioxidants. For over 2,000 years, different Asian cultures have used goji berries as a staple food supplement and medicinal herb.
From being used as medicine by the ancient Chinese to being sprinkled as a garnish on local dishes, goji berries have remained a popular source of distinct flavor and surprising health benefits for people in Asia.
Lately, this fruit is often marketed as a superfood by many and it does not come as a surprise. In recent study researchers compared the outcomes of two different groups of participants – one that drank goji berry juice every day for two weeks and the other that didn’t. It turned out that the group that consumed goji berry juice daily, reported increased levels of:
- Quality sleep
- Athletic performance
- Overall wellness
The same people also showed improvements in their stress and fatigue levels and digestive abilities. So what is it about goji berries that makes it so amazing? The answer to that can be found in the nutritional breakdown of this super berry.
The Goji Berries Nutrient Breakdown
Goji berries are an excellent source of minerals and vitamins, including:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
Goji berries also a healthy dose of protein. The fruit contains 8 of the 9 essential amino acids, with a 4 ounce serving of goji berries fulfilling 10% of the body’s daily protein requirement.
Goji Berries – the Superfood
In addition to the above-listed nutrients and minerals, goji berries also contain phytochemicals, which include:
Beta-carotene – a dominant antioxidant that gives the goji berries their orange-red color. Beta-carotene is essential for maintaining optimal bone health, eye health, skin health, and the development of cells.
Polysaccharides – are a form of carbohydrates and a vital component of dietary fiber. Polysaccharides help improve the body’s immune function by increasing antioxidant activity in it.
Zeaxanthin – carotenoid alcohol – contains powerful antioxidant properties that strengthen the immune system. It is also believed that zeaxanthin prevents macular degeneration.
The Amazing Health Benefits
There’s an old Chinese legend about a man called Li Qing Yuen, who lived to the age of 252 years! His secret? He ate goji berries every day!
The fact that goji berries may help you live longer has been talk of the town for a while now. However, there has been no scientific backing for the same. The health benefits of goji berries that science does agree on include:
- Goji Berries Are Great for Your Eyes
Studies show that goji berries protect the eyes from glaucoma. The wealth of healthy antioxidants found in goji berries, especially zeaxanthin prevent potential eye damage that can be caused by:
- Oxidative stress
- UV light
- Free radicals
- Goji Berries Protect You against Cancer
The zeaxanthin, vitamin C, and carotenoid content found in goji berries fight the development of cancer cells in your body. Antioxidants impede tumor growth, rid the body of free radicals, and reduce inflammation.
- Goji Berries Regulate Blood Sugar
Research done in 2015 reveal that goji berries possess the amazing ability to balance the glucose and insulin levels in the human body. This helps in stabilizing the amount of sugar released into the blood.
- Goji Berries Avert Liver Damage
Goji berries help you maintain a healthy liver. Ancient Chinese medicine used goji berries to treat different liver-related ailments. Recently, research proved goji berries to be highly effective in regulating optimal liver health
- Goji Berries Strengthen the Immune System
The antioxidants found in goji berries possess immune-boosting attributes that allow them to combat the destructive free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation. Goji berries have some of the highest content of vitamin C found in fruits. That along with vitamin A form vital building blocks for body immunity, preventing chances of illnesses that range from a common cold to the seemingly invincible cancer.
- Goji Berries Give You Flawless Healthy Skin
What is the most important ingredient in most skin care creams and products? It’s the beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an indispensable plant phytochemical that is found in abundant quantities within the goji berries. Beta-carotene is great for the skin. It alleviates signs of aging, fights sun damage, reduces irritability and skin breakouts and improves the overall health of the skin.
- Goji Berries Are Great for Your Eyes
Including Goji Berries in Your Diet
Goji berries are your ultimate source of vitamins and antioxidants, something even superstars like Miranda Kerr and Madonna swear by. But for someone like you, who are just starting out with them, the important question remains: how to use goji berries in your diet?
This frequently consumed superfood can be eaten raw, cooked, or in dried form. When dried whole, these super berries often resemble the texture and shape of raisins. Goji berries usually taste slightly sweet and tart, which makes them ideal ingredients for both sweet and savory foods.
Depending on your preferences, fresh and/or dried goji berries can be easily added to:
- Bread, muffins, and cookies
For those of you who have an adventurous side to them, toss in some dried goji berries in your trail mixes to keep the energy levels up for longer. You can even carry them around as a quick, healthy snack on the go.
Cook your goji berries with some lean meat, preferably turkey or pork and enjoy the subtle hint of savory sweetness in your hearty meals!
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