An overwhelming body of research has now firmly established that dietary intake of berry fruits has profound impact on human health and disease prevention. As a result, there has been a surge in the consumption of ‘berry type’ fruits such as pomegranate, blueberries, raspberries, gooseberries, strawberries, Leh berry (sea buckthorn), Goji berries and several others.
While most of these are well known, goji berries also known as Wolfberries, are native to South East Europe and Asia. In China, ‘Goji’ is part of traditional medicine and is also known in other Asian countries including Vietnam, Korea and Japan for more than 2000 years. The popularity of goji berries has grown globally since the early 21st century owing to its nutritive value and antioxidant nature. It has been termed a ‘super-fruit’, which has led to its use in several food products. Goji is commonly referred to as Himalayan goji berry to Tibetan Goji berry in the global functional food market.
In ancient times, the Chinese people were said to have three cherished tonics for health. They were Ginseng, Ling tzi, and Goji berries. The Goji berry legends found in ancient Chinese medicine reach back over 5,000 year’s through the mists of time.
How It Is Used:
The traditional Chinese medicine makes use of the root, bark, leaves, flowers and fruit. Dried Goji berries are traditionally cooked before consumption. They are added to rice conjee, jellies, and Chinese soups and boiled as herbal teas. Goji berries are also used in wine production along with grapes. Besides juices, beers and wines, Goji is also used in yoghurt, cookies, crispy bars, muesli, chocolates, sausages and soaps.
Health Benefits of Goji Berries:
In traditional Chinese medicine, Goji berries are believed to have miraculous effects on health and life expectancy.
• They have been used to nourish liver, kidney
• Brighten the eyes
• Believed to improve energy levels
• Enhance athletic performance
• Improve quality of sleep and ease of awakening, thus increasing the ability to focus on activities
• Mental acuity, calmness, and feelings of health, contentment and happiness
• Powerful anti-ageing and antioxidant food
• Provides neuron protection, general wellbeing, fights fatigue.
• Glucose control in diabetics, immune-boosting effects, anti-tumor activity and cell protection
Also Read: The Amazing Health Benefits of Pine Nuts
No wonder that it has becomes a part of celebrity diets and has also been referred as Fruit Viagra. Goji is also called Gochi, a combination of ‘Go’ from Goji and ‘Chi’ in Chinese meaning ‘life energy’. Prized for its versatility of color and nut like taste, this Chinese berry is rich in many nutrients and phyto-chemicals:
• 18 amino acids, 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals, 8 polysaccharides and 6 monosaccharide’s, 5 unsaturated fatty acids, including the essential fatty acids-linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid which promote immunity and protect against oxidative stress, skin damage due to UV radiations, circulatory diseases, nerve diseases, diabetes and cancer (particularly estrogens related breast cancer) and also as an adjunct in cancer therapy.
• 6 essential vitamins and cryptoxanthin, a xanthophylls, which acts directly to absorb damaging blue and near-ultraviolet light, in order to protect the macula of the retina (the part of the eye with the sharpest vision).
• Numerous phenolic pigments (phenols) associated with antioxidant properties.
Generally speaking, goji berries are devoid of toxicity but caution is advised with regard to possible drug interactions. In Chinese medical books, some caution is advised to pregnant women and patients suffering from diarrhea, fever, arthritis and strong inflammatory conditions. So far, most of the small sized clinical trials demonstrating benefits of Goji berries have been done in Chine. However, larger trials need to be done with rigorous procedures to support recommendations and extend knowledge of this super berry’s potential effects to human health.