If you have been in a health food story lately, maybe you saw what you thought might be little red raisins. Claiming possibly the highest antioxidant level of all berries on the planet, they are actually a type of food called goji berries. For thousands of years, they have been both food and medicine to people in the Himalayas, China, and Mongolia, where they are also known as “wolfberries.”
As a valued ingredient in Tibetan medicine, these berries have been used to cleanse the blood and treat kidney and liver problems in a more natural way for over two thousand years.
Many other diseases and undesirable conditions such as cancer, diabetes, liver disease, insomnia and problem skin have been treated with goji berries. It is even believed that these berries, used as a strengthening potion, can improve sexual health and increase virility.
Health Benefits of Goji Berries
So just what makes these little bits of fruit so remarkable? Just listen to how many nutrients are contained in these little dynamos:
- They are very high in protein, as they contain 18 amino acids.
- They boast five essential vitamins.
- They contain five types of fatty acids including linolenic acid and linoleic acid, both essential fatty acids.
- They are full of cryptoxantin, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene, all strong carotenoids.
- They have essential pigments, or phenols, all rich with antioxidant properties.
And finally, we wrap it all up with the five monosaccharides and eight polysaccharides found in these little wrinkled berries.
You will find few other foods as high as they are in antioxidants.
And what they are most full of are super antioxidants like zeaxanthin and beta carotene . Of great importance to your vision– as it protects the retinas– is zeaxanthin, which also has other beneficial qualities. Macular degeneration is a heartbreaking process. Although it can actually be prevented by diet, macular degeneration is first among the causes of older folks losing their vision.
Free radicals generated by too much sun, too much exercise, smoking, stress and poor diet are stopped by antioxidants which slow down both aging and disease processes. Disease and illness may be brought on by abnormal cell growth resulting from the injuries free radicals inflict on cells and DNA.
In addition to large amounts of the B vitamins, goji berries are also rich in vitamin E.
At about 13% protein and containing 18 amino acid, goji berries are a smart and healthy snack which is very satisfying. With twenty-one trace minerals, iron levels rival those found in spinach and the measure of beta carotene beats that in carrots.
A whopping 6 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber are in each serving of these miraculous berries.
Goji berries are not only available dried, but also frozen at Whole Foods, and some prefer their taste to that of the dried variety. The frozen gogi berries have a taste more mild than those dried, and are especially scrumptious when thawed and added to yogurt.
It is remarkable when you consider that these frozen goji berries contain 7 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein per serving.
Nutritionally incredible as they are, goji berries are also being researched as to their medicinal attributes. There still are qualities unknown about the complex nutritional compounds, phytochemicals and polysaccharides contained in these berries.
Here are some of the phytochemicals which have been found in gogi berries:
Betaine, which the liver produces as a digestive enzyme. Betaine is instrumental as a safeguard against fatty liver disease, breaking down those fats as well as having a calming effect, helping in muscle growth and strengthening the memory.
Recognized as a safeguard against a cancer like leukemia as well as hepatitis B, physalin is a compound which strengthens the liver.
Goji berries are also full of solavetivone, a potent anti-bacterial and anti-fungal compound.
Beta sitoserol is a superb anti-inflammatory agent but has also been heralded as virility-enhancing. Aiding virility and sexual impotence, goji berries also help prevent enlargement of the prostate.
Lowering blood pressure and of benefit to the heart is Cyperone, a type of sesquiterpene. Especially effective against the cervical form of the disease, Cyperone contains cancer-fighting properties.
What about anti-aging attributes of the Goji berry?
On the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity scale (ORAC), which assesses how rich a food is in antioxidants, goji berries are at the top spot, as they also are when measuring their antioxidant levels. In fact, the ORAC rating reveals that goji berries actually have five to ten times that found in blueberries.
You may not find goji berries just anywhere as they are still not that well-known in the nutrional world, but you can find them at health food stores.
They look alot like tiny red raisins in the dried state in which they are most often sold. Any additives or added sugars should be avoided when selecting this berry.
You will love the tart taste and chewy quality of this delicious treat. You may just eat goji berries out of your hand, but you might also try them on peanut butter toast, salads, or on top of your cereal. How could something which tastes so good also be such a boon to your health? Frozen goji berries from Whole Foods should be tried tossed in with salads or sprinkled atop yogurt.
Instead of drinking juice or taking what may be touted as “miraculous”supplements made from these little berries, it is the best and the most beneficial way to simply eat them whole.
There is actually very little goji juice in what is being sold as these so-called miracle juices which may contain other, high sugar juices and are therefore worthless health-wise. These highly sweetened juices have too many calories. Don’t even consider buying them. Enjoying goji berries whole is the way to go.
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