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Originally from China, goji berries are grown in the lower Himalayan regions in India. These small red berries are not just great tasting, but also rich in nutrients.

While the raw berries have an amazing flavour all on their own, there are also many packaged products with goji berries⁠—including goji-berry chocolates⁠—available in the market nowadays.

Eating these berries regularly is thought to offer health benefits like protecting the eyes, heart and nerves⁠—the berries are classified as a superfood.

  1. Nutritional values of goji berries
  2. Benefits of goji berries
  3. Takeaways

Goji berries are an energy bomb and a favourite pre-workout snack across the globe. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), 100 grams of goji berries have about 1461 kilojoules of energy - that is, halfway between bananas and almonds. These are the nutritional values of goji berries:

Nutrition

Value per 100 gram

Water

7.50g

Protein 

14.26g

Lipid (fat)

00.39g   

Carbohydrate 

77.06g

Fibre 

13.00g

Sugar 

45.61g

Minerals

Value per 100 gram

Calcium

190 mg

Iron

6.80 mg

Sodium

298 mg

Vitamins

Value per 100 gram

Vitamin C

48 mg

Vitamin A

26822 IU

Amino Acids

Value per 100 gram

Arginine

0.722g

Aspartic Acid

1.711g

Glutamic acid 

1.431g

Proline

1.000g

From exerting a protective influence over the nerves in the eyes to reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease, research shows that goji berries can be beneficial for multi-organs.

Goji berries as an instant energy provider

A great source of energy, just 100 grams of goji berries contain about 1461 kilojoules of energy—roughly three times the energy in bananas. 

Over 40% of this energy comes from carbohydrates, which break down quickly—so if you are getting ready for a cardio workout, use these berries to fill up your energy tank.

Goji berries to protect the eyes

Rich in vitamin A, goji berries are said to have neuroprotective effects: meaning they protect the nerves. Vitamin A—including beta carotenes—helps in the maintenance and protection of retinal and neural cells. Goji berries have 26822 IU of vitamin A per 100 grams; much more than the daily recommended allowance (DRA) of about 5000 IU. So, eating just 10-20 grams of goji berries daily is enough.

Additionally, goji berries have anthocyanins which can slow down age-related macular degeneration.

Goji berries to protect the heart

Goji berries are rich in polyphenols, anthocyanins, micronutrients, and fibre. These nutrients are found to reduce cardiovascular risks. 

Anthocyanins—pigments that are responsible for the red colour of these berries, and which act as antioxidants—reduce the number of low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in the blood. LDL is also known as the bad cholesterol because high amounts of LDL can lead to atherosclerosis (in which there are cholesterol plaque deposits on arteries and veins), high blood pressure, and blockages in the blood vessels. 

Goji berries to protect against diabetes mellitus

Goji berries have been found to exhibit a hypoglycaemic effect, by reducing excessive blood sugar.

Believers in traditional medicine recommend these berries to people living with diabetes mellitus. 

The more common form of diabetes, diabetes mellitus occurs when the body is unable to use insulin—the sugar-regulating hormone—properly and the blood sugar levels increase above the normal range (72-99 milligrams per deciliter fasting, and up to 140 mg/DL after meals).

Goji berries to protect against tumours

The Chinese use goji berries as a traditional anti-tumour remedy.

In 2011, researchers at the Ningxia University in China found that a specific type of vitamin C (2-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-L-ascorbic acid) in goji berries could suppress the growth of cervical cancer cells.

In 2017, researchers Hsu H.J. et al. found that a carotenoid in Lycium barbarum (one variety of goji berries) could inhibit HT-29 colon cancer cells.

Goji berries for protection against neurological disorders

Goji berries are also thought to prevent neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer's disease

Goji berries help in reducing glutamate toxicity—also known as excitotoxicity—a process by which the neurons get damaged and killed. This can lead to several mental disorders. In the normal course, glutamates transmit messages between the nerve cells and help in learning and memory.

Goji berries for weight loss

Low in fat, goji berries can also help with weight loss. Unlike most other tasteless diet foods, goji berries are delicious. Research shows that adding small amounts of goji berries to your daily diet for at least two weeks can yield results. If you're eating goji berries for weight loss, eat them fresh, dried goji berries, goji-berry chocolates and juice don't have the same effect.

Goji berries for anti-ageing properties

Rich in antioxidants, goji berries are believed to have anti-ageing properties. The berries also contain an amino acid called betaine, which protects the skin from ultraviolet B rays which in turn can cause collagen damage and wrinkles.

While tasty and thought to have many health benefits, goji berries should be eaten in limited quantities depending on your health, age and several other factors. Some people may have an allergic reaction to goji berries - if you or a loved one notice any itchiness, redness or skin irritation after eating goji berries, stop immediately. Depending on the severity of the reaction, visit your doctor. 

While goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for millennia, they have not been the focus of many medical studies. As such, the purported benefits of goji berries are yet to face the strict tests of modern science.

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References

  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Full Report (All Nutrients): Goji berries, dried. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release; Agricultural Research Service
  2. Zheng Feei Ma et.al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2019; 2019: 2437397. PMID: 30728882
  3. Arpita Basu et.al. Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. Nutr Rev. 2010 Mar; 68(3): 168–177. PMID: 20384847
  4. Zhang Z et.al. Selective suppression of cervical cancer Hela cells by 2-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-L-ascorbic acid isolated from the fruit of Lycium barbarum L. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2011 Apr;27(2):107-21. PMID: 20717715
  5. MedlinePlus Medical: US National Library of Medicine; Goji
  6. Shirin Hasani-Ranjbar et. al. A Systematic Review of the Efficacy and Safety of Anti-aging Herbs in Animals and Human. Volume 7 (8): 621-640, 2012
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