A small, pulpy, sweet, sour, tad bit tart, with or without seeds, and often edible; berry as we know it is a juicy, rounded, and brightly coloured fruit. There are many varieties of wild berries available to us on the planet earth and alongside many such delectable ones, is a pygmy-sized, soft succulent, fleshy, deep red berry fruit that falls in the category of superfoods of the earth, called Goji Berries. Also known by some interesting names such as wolfberries or Duke of Argyll’s tea tree, goji berries go by the botanical name Lycium barbarum and are native to Asia and China They are found primarily on creeping vines. Mostly sweet and sometimes a bit sour, goji carry a vibrant red hue and have been popular in traditional medicine for more than 2,000 years as a useful food supplement and a medicinal herb.
These tiny red fruits packed with antioxidants are also laden with immense medicinal and therapeutic properties and can be used in culinary forms such as cooking, and baking, or as herbal teas, juices, and shakes. Goji berries, besides adding a dash of colour to your plate, are super delicious, easy to digest, and among the top sources of vitamins, minerals, and disease-fighting nutrients which makes them extremely powerful in lowering the risk of many chronic and age-related health conditions.
How Does The Goji Berry Plant Looks Like?
Berries are technically a subcategory of fruits, that besides sweet and fleshy and are seed-holding structures of a flowering plant. The Goji berry plant is part of the nightshade family just like tomatoes and potatoes and is a deciduous shrub that originated from the mighty Himalayas. Today they are commonly found growing wild in areas of China, Japan, Turkey, and Russia. The plant of this tangy fruit is about eight to ten feet in height and may achieve a width of up to fourteen feet. Apart from the lovely-looking berries, these shrubs produce attractive bright deep purple flowers. The plant has arching stems with leaves that are medium-sized and slender. Goji has also been an ingredient in traditional Chinese, Korean, and Japanese medicine since at least the third century AD. The berries are orange as they form before maturing and it is the presence of Beta-carotene, a bright pigment in goji berries that gives the fruit its amazing colour. Beta-carotene is vital for eye health, bone health, skin health, and cell development. The amount of beta-carotene in goji berries is among the highest of all edible plants on earth.
What Is The Nutritional Benefit Of Goji Berries?
When it comes to nutrition, goji berries pack a punch. This bright red luscious fruit is believed to have numerous health benefits. Thanks to the growing popularity of this super fruit and the bounteous wellness benefits it brings to the table, goji berries like other berries, including blueberries, raspberries, and gooseberries, are great at maintaining eye health, strengthening the liver, and kidneys, improving lung functioning and slow signs of ageing.
Here are some fabulous health and wellness benefits that this tiny red fruit offers:
Supports Immune Function
The antioxidant content of this fruit is well known; therefore, Goji berries have long been used in traditional medicine to ward off illness and infection. Goji berries naturally enhance immunity and provide power to the immune system to fight bacterial and viral infections hat that can otherwise weaken the immune system.
Augments Eye Health
Goji berries are exceptionally rich in zeaxanthin. This is a potent antioxidant that has the reputation of being superb when it comes to maintaining eye health. Besides delaying signs of age-related macular degeneration, other vision problems and glaucoma that can lead to vision loss at a later stage, zeaxanthin also protects the eyes from harmful free radicals and oxidative stress.
Regulates Blood Sugar Levels
A great source of nutrients, including vitamins and minerals, goji berries contain long-chain carbohydrates which are also called polysaccharides. These compounds play a role in regulating blood sugar in the most effective manner and help treat type 2 diabetes.
Normalises Elevated Blood Pressure Levels
The polysaccharides in goji berries also contain anti-hypertensive properties. This is one of the prime reasons that these berries were used in traditional Chinese medicine to regulate blood pressure levels and cure early signs of hypertension.
Enhances Fertility And Sexual Health
Studies have shown that goji berries can help improve sexual health in men. By increasing testosterone levels in men, goji berries work as a potential alternative remedy for erectile dysfunction. It is also considered a remedial solution to increase sperm count.
Goji berries have also been used in traditional medicine to fight early signs of depression, curb anxiety levels and improve mood disorders. Goji berries have an impressive and rich manganese profile which plays a very crucial role in enhancing cognitive functions. Gojis also contains significant levels of vitamins B and C. Both these vitamins elevate energy levels and are known to enhance the positivity quotient and upkeep the mood.
Helps In Detoxification Of Liver
Goji berries are often used along with other traditional herbs like licorice to help in the liver cleansing process. As per traditional Chinese medicine, the fabulous antioxidant content of these berries makes them a natural remedy for kidney stones as they benefit both the liver and kidneys and restore the strength and vitality of these organs in the human body.
Goji berries can be used to treat and restore hormonal health and balance, especially during pre- and post-menopause phases. These include alleviating the symptoms of menopause and increasing blood cell production in case of a low red blood cell count in women due to malfunctions in their reproductive health.
Aids Skin Renewal
As much as these berries are great for soothing health issues when it comes to skin, the berries work well for treating many pesky skin woes and severe skin problems such as hyperpigmentation and eczema very effectively. Since they are rich in Vitamin C, beta-carotene, and amino acids, all of this aids skin complexion and makes the skin breathe in a better way and glow. Moreover, owing to the anti-inflammatory properties of Goji berries, they treat skin inflammation and prevent acne and breakouts. Goji berry juice has been recommended by many skin experts nowadays to treat mild to chronic inflammation from within and provide the dermis with a healthy glow from within.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Goji Berries?
Just like any fruit, these bright berries are safe to consume and do not have any potential side effects. If at all there are, these effects are specific to certain health conditions. Sometimes, Goji berries might interact with certain medications such as diabetes and blood pressure medications. One must be a little careful before consuming them along with these medicines. Individuals with pollen allergies must stay away from goji berries. In some individuals, berries can cause photosensitivity, which involves the formation of rashes on the skin when the skin is exposed to sunlight. Pregnant women are recommended to stay away from goji berries as they could be one of the additional causes of miscarriage if the pregnancy has certain complications. When it comes to breastfeeding women, it is advised to avoid using them. By and large, it is best to keep the intake of this fruit within limits and not tend to overeat them.
Ways To Add Goji Berries To The Diet
Goji berries are a little difficult to find as a fruit, but they are widely sold in powdered or dried form across all major grocery and herbal stores. They are added to various health-boosting supplements and multiple formulations and herbal blends. You can easily add fresh and dry goji berries in the following ways besides eating them fresh and raw:
- They can be a topping to an oatmeal breakfast
- They can be added to a plain or a flavoured yogurt
- Gojis can be a part of a fresh fruit salad platter
- They can be added to baked food items
- Gojis are a great assortment of a desserts
- They can be blended into sweet sauces
- They can be sauteed along with a cooked meal
- Goji berry juice is one of the most popular ways to use them
- Goji supplements are very easily available and are mostly safe to consume
- Goji berry herbal teas are an easy way to consume them
Goji berries are red bright berries eaten as a wild fruit since age-old times. Not only is this juicy berry loaded with many beneficial nutrients, but it contains powerful chemical compounds called phytochemicals that are produced by plants which also include polysaccharides, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin. If included regularly in the diet, these berries can aid in diabetes treatment, enhance eye health, and augment sexual wellness. In addition, they help balance hormones, provide a feeling of well-being, aid a better athletic performance, induce better sleep, promote weight loss, and help the body get rid of any toxins present in the liver besides curing early signs of depression. Goji extract and juices have been very helpful to cure skin anomalies by making skin clear of harmful pathogens and boosting hair growth. However, one should be careful before using the extracts or the dried version in excessive amounts as overuse may cause drug interactions, allergies, and issues during pregnancy and in times of lactation. Hence, it is advised to consume Goji in any form in limited quantities to reap all its benefits. The recommended serving size for dried goji berries is approximately 30 grams or two tablespoons every day. However, even if you consume a little more than this there is no harm that this fruit will cause to your health.