What is the Goji berry?
The goji berry is also called the wolfberry. It is a bright orange-red berry that comes from a shrub that’s native to China. In Asia, goji berries have been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer.
Over time, people have used goji berries to treat many common health problems like diabetes, High Blood Pressure, fever, and age-related eye problems. Goji berries are eaten raw, cooked, or dried (like raisins) and are used in herbal teas, juices, wines and medicines.
How does Goji berries benefit us?
Research shows that eating berries — like blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, strawberries, and cherries – may offer health benefits. Berries like the goji berry are filled with powerful antioxidants and other compounds . The British Dietetic Association says some phytochemicals such as flavonoids, glucosinolate and phyto-oestrogens “act as antioxidants, which may reduce damage to cell DNA and cell membranes. Other phytochemicals are thought to influence the activation of carcinogens (cancer causing agents), or increase the level of protective liver enzymes.”
It’s possible but not proven that eating foods high in antioxidants may slow the ageing process. A Japanese study of 1,000 people over 70 found that those who drank the most green tea (containing catechins – a type of flavanoid) showed the least signs of the cognitive decline associated with ageing. It’s believed antioxidants work by minimising damage to your cells from free radicals that injure cells and damage DNA. When a cell’s DNA changes, the cell grows abnormally.
Antioxidants may take away the destructive power of free radicals. By doing so, antioxidants help reduce the risk of some serious diseases.
Goji berries also have compounds rich in vitamin A that may have anti-ageing benefits. For instance, one recent Cochrane review published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy argues, “Retinoids are capable not only of repairing photoaged skin at both the clinical and biochemical levels but their use may prevent photoaging.” NHS Choices says vitamin A has several important functions from strengthening immunity against infections to helping vision in dim light as well as maintaining cell growth in some areas of the body. Vitamin A has also been studied as a treatment for many other conditions, including some types of cancer, cataracts and HIV. However, the results for these are inconclusive and more research is needed.
Some researchers suggests that goji berry extracts may boost brain health and may protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s. But more studies are needed.
While goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants — and early research shows a potentially powerful health benefit — it’s still unclear how they stack up against other berries. Researchers also don’t know whether goji berry supplements have the same health benefits as the actual berries.
Do Goji berries have a downside or side-effects?
There may be some possible herb-drug interactions with goji berries. If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you may want to avoid goji berries. Goji berries may also interact with diabetes and blood pressure medicines.
Also, if you have pollen allergies, you may want to stay away from this fruit. However, when eaten in moderation, goji berries appear to be safe.