What is Goji Berry?
Goji belongs to the Solanaceae (nightshade) family of plants. Wolfberry, matrimony vine are other names to goji. Eggplant, tomato, potato are other interesting family members in this nightshade family. Goji berry is a deciduous, thick woody vine that prefers loamy, well drained soil. Goji reaches about 2-3 meters in height and begins fruit yielding by second year of plantation. The plant bears small, purple color flowers in the summer and develops to green, raw berries in bunch. The berries turn deep orange-red and can be ready for harvesting by August. Each berry measures about 2 to 2.5 cm in length and 1 cm in diameter, has ellipsoid shape and waxy, glossy skin. Inside, it consists of tiny, cream-white, flat seeds interspersed at its center. Traditionally, fresh berries harvested by handpicking and sundried for several days, sorted and dispatch for markets.
Health Benefits of Goji Berry
Diabetes Control: Diabetes has emerged as one the major diseases in the world in modern times. Controlling or preventing diabetes is absolutely necessary, as it can lead to the development of several other diseases such as obesity, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and ocular diseases. One of the major health benefits of consuming goji berries is that it can help in controlling diabetes.
Cholesterol Control: Cholesterol is one of the major reasons for the development of heart disease and cardiovascular disease. Cholesterol forms plaque-like structures inside the blood vessels and arteries that obstruct the blood flow. This in turn causes the heart to pump with higher force, resulting in heart weakening, which can be followed by a heart attack. For starters, cholesterol is one of two types. One is HDL or high density lipid cholesterol, which is good cholesterol, and the other is LDL or low density lipid cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol. It is the LDL or the bad cholesterol that forms plaque and leads to heart weakening. Recent studies have shown that the intake of goji berries reduces high cholesterol levels. In particular, LDL cholesterol levels are reduced.
Cardiovascular Protection: Free radicals can also attack the heart, just as any other organ. When heart muscles are attacked, the result can be that the heart will be weakened. Although this happens over a long period of time, it is still required to take precautionary measures. Goji berry can act as a protective measure, as it contains anti-oxidant chemicals that can protect the heart from the attack of free radicals.
Healthy Body: The health benefits of goji berry also include general well-being and a healthy body. It also improves neurological and psychological performance as well.
Anti-Cancer Properties: Goji berry has not only been eaten as food; the Chinese also used it to treat cancer in their traditional medicine. Scientific investigations into goji berry fruit extracts revealed various anti-cancerous properties. They were tested on human cancer cells, which showed considerable control over the growth of cancer cells. Apoptosis, or the sudden death of cells, was observed for cancer cells when goji berry extracts were administered.
Protects Brain Cells from Damage: The damaged brain cells can develop neurodegenerative diseases. These neurodegenerative diseases can be effectively countered by consuming goji berry. Goji berry extracts have shown significant neuroprotective activity. The team that conducted research ascertained that goji berry possesses anti-aging effects and has suggested it as a preventive medicine.
Protects Liver from Damage: The liver is one of the most resilient organs in our body and it can protect itself from chemical, free radical, and physical damages. However, this cycle of damage and regeneration can ultimately result in liver damage. Goji berry, on the other hand, has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine to frequently treat liver diseases. The extracts of goji berry showed free radical scavenging in the liver and protective properties.
Skin protection: Ultraviolet radiation is one of the threats that we are all facing, due to the depletion of the ozone layer in several parts of the world. The exposure of the skin to UV radiation can result in skin damage and skin cancer in extreme cases. We can reduce this risk by consuming goji berries. Goji berry extracts can protect our skin from damage caused by UV radiation. The antioxidant potential in goji berries has been attributed to this action.
Vision Improvement: Goji berry, due to its antioxidant properties, also helps in improving eyesight. The antioxidants protect the eye from free radicals that may cause loss of eyesight, cataracts, and other eye-related disorders.
Boost Fertility: Goji berries are believed to increase sperm count and the vitality of sperm. Gojis are mainly used in TCM for treating “yin deficiency,” which is believed to be the “female” aspect of the personality and body. Knowing that goji berry benefits include the ability to increase mood, reduce stress and fight inflammation, TCM practitioners prescribe a dose of six to 15 grams daily for balancing yin and restoring hormonal health.
Uses of Goji Berry
- Dried Goji Berry are often added to rice congee and almond jelly, as well as used in Chinese tonic soups,
- In combination with chicken or pork, vegetables, and other herbs such as wild yam, Astragalus membranaceus, Codonopsis pilosula, and licorice root.
- The berries are also boiled as a herbal tea, often along with chrysanthemum flowers and/or red jujubes, or with tea, and packaged teas are also available.
- Various wines containing Goji Berry are also produced, including some that are a blend of grape wine and Goji Berry.