The Himalayan goji berry, also known as the wolfberry, is often classified as a "superfood" because of its dense nutrient content. In addition to its high nutritional value, the goji berry has also been studied for its potential medicinal properties. It is commonly sold in health food stores in the form of dried whole berries, but other available forms include juice and herbal teas.
Even if you're not eating the Himalayan goji berry for a specific medicinal benefit, it's a great source of essential daily nutrition. According to "Superfruits" by Paul Gross, Ph.D., goji berries are potent dietary sources of beta-carotene-derived vitamin A, vitamin C and riboflavin. Essential minerals found in the berries include copper, magnesium, potassium, selenium and zinc. They are also rich in polysaccharides like prebiotic fiber, which can help lower cholesterol.
According to a study published in the "British Journal of Nutrition" in 2005, goji berries may help prevent macular degeneration. Macular degeneration is a condition that can be caused by age and that causes permanent vision loss. Goji berries can help prevent this condition because they contain zeaxanthin, which is an oxygenated carotenoid that can absorb blue light and protect retinal cells through its antioxidant ability. The study found that the zeaxanthin in goji berries is readily bioavailable and modest daily consumption of the fruit can maintain healthy macula. A separate study published in a 2007 issue of "Experimental Neurology" found that goji berries may be effective in treating glaucoma, another condition that can result in permanent vision loss. One of the major glaucoma risk factors is an increase in intraocular pressure, which can lead to the loss of retinal ganglion cells. The study investigated the effects of dietary goji berry intake in rats, which did not reduce intraocular pressure, but did reduce the loss of retinal ganglion cells caused by intraocular pressure.
A study published in "Phytotherapy Research" in 2004 found that goji berries are a potent source of dietary antioxidants. Antioxidants, according to the National Institutes of Health, protect the body against free radicals. Free radicals can attack retinal cells as described above, but they can also attack any healthy cells, potentially leading to more serious conditions including heart disease and cancer. Free radicals are produced any time your body breaks down nutrients to produce energy, but other forms of bodily stress like smoking or exposure to radiation can also increase free radical production.
- Superfruits; Paul M. Gross, Ph.D.
- British Journal of Nutrition: Fasting Plasma Zeaxanthin Response to Fructus Barbarum L. (Wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a Food-Based Human Supplementation Trial; Chung Yuen Chenga, Wai Yuen Chunga, Yim Tong Szetoa, Iris F. F. Benzie; January
- Experimental Neurology; Neuroprotective Effects of Lycium Barbarum Lynn on Protecting Retinal Ganglion Cells in an Ocular Hypertension Model of Glaucoma; Chan HC, Chang RC, Koon-Ching IP A, Chiu K, Yuen WH, Zee SY, So KF
- Phytotherapy Research: Antioxidant Activities of Some Common Ingredients of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Angelica Sinensis, Lycium Barbarum and Poria Cocos; Sue-Jing Wu, Lean-Teik Ng, Chun-Ching Lin
- MedlinePlus: Antioxidants
- baie de goji image by lefebvre_jonathan from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.