Goji berries (gojis) provide nutrients, which naturally fight disease and common illness, such as eye disease and hypertension. Gojis boost energy, improve cardiovascular health, increase quality of sleep and feelings of calmness, while combating depression and other mood disorders. Gojis are packed with antioxidants, which are the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that help to prevent damage to cells from unstable molecules, known as “free radicals” in our bodies.
- High levels of antioxidants combat free radicals, thereby increasing immunity from disease.
- Eye health protection, slowing the progression of Age Related Macular Degeneration due to levels of the antioxidants zeaxanthin, lutein, Beta-Carotene, and Vitamin A and E.
- Protects the liver, kidneys, and brain cells from damage.
- Contains anti-cancer properties.
- Improves cardiovascular health and cholesterol levels, overall health and well-being, and digestive functions.
- Reduces inflammation.
- Lowers stress, which is why it is known as the “happy berry”.
Goji berries contain powerful antioxidants like carotenoids and flavonoids, plus amino acids, minerals, and vitamins that give your body the nutrients it needs to function at its optimum level.
Beta-carotene, Lycopene, Cryptoxanthin, Lutein, and Selenium, along with the flavonoids such as Quercetin, and others, are associated with a strengthened immune system and lowered incidence of cardiovascular disease, eye disease, and cancer.
Beta-carotene: Carotenoid, which gives the yellow and orange colour and is converted to Vitamin A. It is found in higher doses in goji berries, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and carrots.
Zeaxanthin and Lutein: Carotenoid pigments, adding red and yellow pigments to the goji, and are the only two carotenoids found in the retina. They may also protect against cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (blindness), for which there is no known cure. Studies have repeatedly shown that antioxidants like Vitamin A and Zeaxanthin, are vital to good health and longevity as they benefit eye health, boost immunity, and foster cell growth. It is believed that lutein, zeaxanthin and meso-zeaxanthin in the macula block blue light from reaching the underlying structures in the retina, thereby reducing the risk of light-induced oxidative damage that could lead to macular degeneration (AMD).
Lycopene: Lycopene is one of the most potent carotenoid antioxidants. Several studies suggest that lycopene-rich diets are associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer. Lycopene has found to be important to bone health as well as lowering heart risk, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
Flavonoids: Certain flavonoids found in goji berries are quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin, hesperidin, and rutin. They act as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer agents.
Quercitin: Quercetin has antioxidants, anti-artherogenic (fighting fatty plaque build-up in arteries), and anti-cancer properties.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A helps form and maintain healthy teeth, skeletal and soft tissue, mucus membranes, and skin. It is also known as retinol as it produces the pigments in the retina of the eye. Vitamin A promotes good vision, especially in low light, and it may also be needed for reproduction and breast-feeding. It may also protect against lung and oral-cavity cancers.
Vitamin C: Antioxidant, which helps to promote wound healing, and the production of collagen, the connective tissue that holds bones and muscles together. It also helps with the absorption of iron and prevents easy-bruising.
Vitamin E: May help to protect against toxins, such as air pollution, eye disorders, such as cataracts and age related macular degeneration, neurological diseases, and diabetes.
Riboflavin (B2): Vitamin B2 is a water-soluble vitamin. The human body needs a daily dosage of it since it cannot be stored in the body. It plays a major role in energy production and represents an essential nutrient in diet. Riboflavin helps in the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar, which fuels many functions in the body. Riboflavin also plays an active part in the electron transport chain that produces cellular energy. Furthermore, it helps in the processing of amino acids and fats. It can also serve as an antioxidant, which slows the pace of ageing.
Calcium: Our bodies need calcium to build and maintain strong bones. Your heart, muscles, and nerves also need calcium to function properly. Some studies suggest that calcium, along with Vitamin D, may have benefits beyond bone health perhaps protecting against cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Iron: Helps to metabolise proteins and plays a role in the production of hemoglobin and red blood cells. Iron deficiency can lead to conditions, such as iron deficiency anemia, chronic anemia, cough, and pre-dialysis anemia. The health benefits of iron include the eradication of different causes of fatigue.
Potassium: The health benefits of potassium include relief from stroke, blood pressure, heart and kidney disorders, anxiety and stress, as well as enhanced muscle strength, metabolism, water balance, electrolytic functions, and nervous system.
Zinc: Helps with hormone production, healthy cell growth and repair, improves immunity, and is an anti-inflammatory agent. It acts like an antioxidant, fighting free-radical damage and slowing the ageing process.
Selenium: Selenium is an essential trace mineral that has a wide array of health benefits, including its ability to protect against certain heart diseases, acts as an antioxidant, boost the strength of the immune system, maximise thyroid function, reduce inflammation, prevent cancer, reduce the signs of premature ageing, protect against antibodies, boost hair health, and balance hormones.
Lowers cholesterol levels, helps control blood sugar levels, helps maintain bowel health and bowel movements, and aids in achieving healthy weight and possibly helps prevent colorectal cancer.
Goji Berries contain 18 amino acids, including nine essential ones that the body can’t produce. Amino acids can be called the “building blocks” of protein and are an important part of every human body. There are 20 different amino acids – nine of which are called “essential” and 11 of which are labeled as “non-essential.” Protein is a part of every single cell in the human body and is essential to the body’s functioning. Protein helps build and repair tissues like skin and muscle, and it helps produce antibodies and insulin.
Three essential amino acids are isoleucine, tryptophan, and leucine.
Isoleucine is needed for hemoglobin formation and stabilises and regulates blood sugar and energy levels. It is metabolised in muscle tissue. These amino acids are valuable for athletes as they enhance energy, increase endurance, and aid in the healing and repair of muscle tissue.
Tryptophan acts like a natural mood regulator, since it has the ability to help the body produce and balance
certain hormones naturally. Supplementing with tryptophan-rich foods or taking supplements, helps bring on natural calming effects, induces sleep, fights anxiety, and can also help burn more body fat. Tryptophan has also been found to stimulate the release of growth hormones and even reduce food cravings for carbohydrates while kicking sugar addiction in some cases.
An important by-product of tryptophan is 5HTP (5-hyrdoxytryptophan), which works in the brain and Central Nervous System to boost feelings of well-being, connection, and safety. It does this by increasing production of one of the body’s main feel-good hormones called serotonin. Serotonin is the same calming chemical released when we eat certain comfort foods like carbohydrates, which is why supplementing with tryptophan has been shown to help control appetite and contribute to easier weight loss or maintenance.
Exciting new research shows that leucine has more effects than just providing material to build muscle. It also activates a compound in the muscle to “switch on” muscle building, helps you lose weight and spare muscle when dieting.
Goji berries also contain betaine that lowers homocysteine levels. High levels of homocysteine, an amino acid, may contribute to heart disease and stroke by increasing the risk of atherosclerosis and peripheral vascular disease. However, betaine is one of the ingredients that may be harmful in pregnancy. It may increase uterine contractions, possibly causing miscarriage.
Note: Those who are on Warfarin must avoid goji berries for there is an herb-drug interaction. Warfarin or Coumadin is a blood thinner or anticoagulant. It is taken by those who have been diagnosed with blood clots in their legs, heart, brain, or arms. There have been studies with respect to the interaction of herbal medicines and foods in patients regarding cardiovascular drugs like Warfarin.
Goji berry nutrition links
- This article explains carotenoids and flavonoids…the antioxidants
- Study from Oklahoma State University about goji berries, eye health and obesity
- 11 benefits of goji berry or wolfberry
- Goji berries keep eyes healthy
- Lutein and zeaxanthin: eye and vision benefits
- Anti-aging, immune- stimulating, glucose regulatory, liver and cardiovascular protective effects of goji berries
- Nutrients of goji in the berry, the leaves, and the bark