What are Goji Berries and where do they come from?

goji berries

Goji berries also known as Wolfberries, deep red in colour; they are nutrient dense fruits that are high in protein. They also contain high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants protect against free-radical damage and are considered to be anti-ageing substances.

Goji berries also contain iron, vitamin B1, B2, B6, calcium, potassium, selenium, vitamin C & vitamin E among other nutrients.  The longevity of certain Chinese people is attributed to the life-long use of Goji.

Are Goji Berries Good for you?

Native to North Western China, Goji berries grow on bushes. They are semi-sweet and may be consumed in various ways. The Chinese make tea, juice and wine from them and they also consume them in their raw state. Across the centuries the Chinese used Goji to promote longevity, healthy eyesight, increased libido, improved circulation, etc, etc. Goji berries have a special claim to fame in that they have been shown to absorb greater amounts of oxygen free radicals. In a test designated ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) they produced a score of 25,300 whereas prunes produced the lowly score of 5700!

Optimise your system with Goji Berries

Normally a nutritionally optimised system can take care of free radicals via several metabolic pathways. However, given the modern-day diet most people are many steps removed from an optimum diet. This leads to free radical attack on all parts of the system and is a risk factor for disease. Ingesting substances that can help to negate this type of attack on the body is a sensible course of action. As a bonus goji berries are low in calories, fat-free and are loaded with fibre in addition to containing the nutrient mentioned above.

What are the benefits of Goji Berries?

Goji berries also contain the substances zeaxanthin and lutein. These are known to improve the vision by protecting the retina from age-related diseases such as cataracts and diabetic retinopathy.

“Goji berries may improve your vision, according to Kansas State University nutrition department. Their high antioxidant content, including compounds such as zeaxanthin, lutein, polysaccharides and polyphenolics helps protect against oxidative stress and damage to the retina -- the nerve cell layer that lines the back of the eye -- a common complication of Type 2 diabetes”.

In 2008 a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled clinical study showed that daily consumption of Goji for 14 days increases subjective feelings of general well-being, and improves neurologic/psychologic performance and gastrointestinal functions. The data strongly suggest that further research is indicated to confirm and extend knowledge of the potential effects of Lycium barbarum (Goji) upon human health.

According to studies undertaken by University of Sydney, the Goji berry may help fight imminent blindness caused by chronic diabetes.

Researchers from the Faculty of Pharmacy conducted in vitro (isolated cell culture) studies to investigate the potential of the berry. University of Sydney Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry Basil Roufogalis, the lead researcher, stated  ”the Goji berry is rich in taurine, an ingredient credited with anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and immuno-modulating properties which has the potential to protect the retina”.

Further Professor Roufogalis stated that “Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness for people with diabetes,” adding that “Typically what happens is proteins in the eye become oxidated and high glucose levels force retinal cells to die. Blood vessels build up in the retina and grow over the vision spot, which can result in vision loss.”

Initially the pharmacy researchers work showed the Goji berry and its taurine component activated a nuclear receptor protein called PPAR-gamma. This protein plays a crucial role in regulating the retinal cells. This led to further investigation of Lycium barbarum (Goji berries) and its potential to activate the PPAR-gamma receptor.

It was discovered that the Goji berry offered protection against the death of cells caused by high concentrations of glucose in the retina.

The content contained herein is not medical advice, it is for informational purposes only. If you have health concerns please see your doctor or health professional.