Friday, September 3, 2010

Goji Berries: Anti-Oxidants Supreme

Looking around online a few years ago, I came across an article on Goji berries and how they are considered to be one of the most nutritious foods in the world. Also known as Wolfberry, with the scientific name, Lycium Barbarum, Goji berries are members of the deadly nightshade family along with tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, and chili peppers.

Grown in temperate and sub-tropical areas, Gojis are found in abundance in China, Mongolia, and the Tibetan Himalayas where they have been used for over 6,000 years to fortify the body in numerous ways. With purple flowers, the berry itself is a reddish orange and is eaten dried, like a raison. The most well known region for growing Goji berries is in the Ningxia province in China. One wonders if the abundance of centegenerians, amounting to 16 times more than anywhere else in the rest of China, is connected with the daily consumption of these miraculous little bundles of nutrition!

It seems that ancient herbalists already knew that Goji berries were high in a multitude of nutrients associated with well-being and longevity. They proscribed Goji berries for ailments like poor eyesight, sexual debilitation, and stress. Modern studies now show that Gojis are indeed powerful anti-oxidants that strengthen the immune system, fortify the liver, enhance eyesight, promote sexual function and fertility, reduce blood glucose, lower cholesterol, and reduce the growth of cancerous cells.

Due to being carotenoid rich, Goji berries are able to protect the retina by absorbing light. Their anti-oxidant powers help prevent macular degeneration, or the loss of vision that occurs with age. They also work to maintain the integrity of DNA, which has everything to do with promoting longevity. Additionally, Goji berries increase HGH (human growth hormone), an essential ingredient for anti-aging. Add to this its strength as a sexual tonic due to increasing testosterone levels in both men and women, elevating stamina and mood; its power to deal with stress by balancing the adrenal glands; and its ability to balance cholesterol levels, balance blood pressure, and lower the risk of cardio-vascular disease.

In 1988 studies made at the Beijing Nutritional Research Institute revealed that Goji berries contain the following:

  • 21 trace dietary minerals
  • 18 amino acids
  • A minimum of 4 polysaccharides
  • 5 carotenoids, including beta carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene, and cryptoxanthin
  • 112 mg of calcium
  • 1132 mg potassium
  • 9 mg iron
  • 2 mg zinc
  • 50 micrograms

According to the USDA's ORAC scale rating (oxygen radical absorbency capacity), which measures the amount of anti-oxidants in foods and supplements, Goji berries are way ahead of all other foods at 25,300! Compare this with blueberries (2400), strawberries (1540), raisons (2830), bell pepper (710), spinach (1260), and kale (1770) and it is easy to understand why these little gems are called super foods.

Shopping for Goji Berries

Goji berries, with their tangy taste, make a delicious snack food. They can also be made into a tea or added to blender drinks. Goji berry juice is now commonly found in most health food stores. If you are buying the juice, make sure you buy it in glass jars rather than plastic. When buying the berries, make sure they are 100% organic and come from the Lycium Barbarum series, grown in the Ningxia province in China. These are the highest quality and will give you the maximum results by eating just a few per day.

Note: Goji berries can possibly interact with anti-coagulant drugs, so consult your health care practitioner if you are taking blood thinners. If you do have a reaction, your blood will quickly turn to normal once you stop eating the berries.

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