Beautiful Healthful Goji Berries
Also Know as the Youth Berry
Goji berries, also known as wolfberry, are shriveled red-orange berries that resemble raisins. With its rich nutrients, mild-tangy taste and recent popularity, the goji berry has become a well-known “super” fruit worldwide. However, they have been used for thousands of years in the subtropical regions of China, Mongolia and the Tibetan Himalaya Mountains for a host of health related benefits. While the health advantages associated with the goji berry are well recognized, their nutritional value and composition is less understood. Goji berries have an extraordinary nutritional profile. While there are claims that goji berries can help to treat a variety of ailments, you should not substitute eating them for any medical care you now are receiving without talking to a doctor.
Jodi Helmer in “Goji Berries: Antioxidant Supreme,” illustrates the antioxidant ability of goji fruits. Goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants such as flavonoids, polyphenols, carotenoids and vitamin C, E and A. The goji berry contains 500 times more vitamin C per weight than an orange and on average have more beta-carotene than carrots. It is no surprise that the antioxidant value of goji berries contribute to its ability to improve the immune system, fight infection, and support overall eye health. In addition, researchers have questioned whether they can inhibit the growth of cancer cells, prevent Alzheimer’s disease, reduce blood glucose and lower cholesterol levels secondary to their ability to reduce free radicals in the body.
Amino Acids and Protein
Amino acids are vital to life as they play a central role as the “building blocks” of the body which make up protein. Amino acids are the intermediates in metabolism and provide structure for the muscles, tendons, glands, organs, nails and hair. In addition, cell maintenance, growth and repair of the body depend upon amino acids. There are amino acids that the body can make from dietary sources which are termed “nonessential amino acids” and there are amino acids which must be consumed because the body cannot make them, called “essential amino acids.” According to Kirk Bachelder in “Dried Goji Berries,” goji berries contain 19 amino acids, including the eight essential amino acids. These berries therefore are a nearly complete source of protein, providing 13 percent more protein than weight.
Vitamins and Minerals
Paul Gross in “The Top 20 Superfruits: #5 Goji,” reports that in just a quarter cup of goji berries there are B vitamins including thiamin, riboflavin and niacin, 11 essential vitamins, 22 trace minerals including zinc, copper, calcium, selenium, phosphorus and more iron than spinach. Goji berries contain: 24 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance of potassium, 100 percent of the Recommended Reference Intake of iron, copper and riboflavin and 18 percent of zinc. Goji berries are packed full of vitamins and minerals, both essential and nonessential.
As with any fruit, goji berries contain sugar. However, rather than just simple carbohydrates, goji berries are also full of eight polysaccharides, which are considered complex carbohydrates. Polysaccharides are long-chain sugar molecules and are a primary source of dietary fiber. According to Goji Capital.Com, polysaccharides help to fortify the immune system, support a healthy intestinal mucosal lining, lower pH and the risk of colon cancer, enhance mineral uptake, promote a positive mood, support energy levels, and enhance optimal heart and liver function. The polysaccharide content offers the distinguishing characteristic of the goji berry, promoting its superior nutritional value.
As reported by Environmental Nutrition, the goji berry has a remarkable number of other nutrients comprising phytochemicals, essential and nonessential fatty acids, and pigments. Additionally, goji berries contain anti-inflammatory agents such as beta-sitosterol, which are known to lower cholesterol and promote sexual health. Goji berries are also known for their anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
Goji berries have been found to be one of the most nutrient-rich fruits available. The side effects of goji berry consumption are not yet known and future research is needed to understand whether its mechanism of action interferes with treatment or medication. Whereas the goji berry is one of the oldest medicinal plants used and truly is a “super” fruit, it is relatively new in the United States and caution should be taken when considering its potential nutrient and health claims.
P.S. – Here’s another article on Goji berries that might be worth reading.
- “Better Nutrition”; Goji Berries: Antioxidant Supreme; Jodi Helmer; September 2006.
- “The Berry Doctor’s Journal”’ The Top 20 Superfruits: #5 Goji; Paul Gross; February 2010.
- “Environmental Nutrition”; Are Goji Berries Really the Healthiest Food on the Planet?; Ask EN; February 2010.