Seven Health Benefits of Goji Berries Supported by Science
1. Eye Protection
Research has shown that goji berries may help reduce the risk of developing glaucoma and protect against age-related eye diseases. These berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly zeaxanthin, which can protect the eyes from UV light, free radicals, and oxidative stress. A study published in Optometry and Vision Science revealed that elderly participants who consumed goji berry juice for 90 days had a significant increase in zeaxanthin and other antioxidants. Another study in Drug Design, Development and Therapy suggested that goji berries could protect the retina’s ganglion cells, which are implicated in glaucoma.
2. Immune System Support
Goji berries are packed with antioxidants that enhance the immune system by combatting free radicals and inflammation. They are also a good source of vitamins A and C, which are essential for immunity and can help prevent a range of illnesses from the common cold to cancer.
3. Cancer Protection
The high levels of antioxidants in goji berries, such as vitamin C, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids, contribute to their ability to fight cancer cells. These antioxidants can slow tumor growth, reduce inflammation, and aid in the elimination of toxins. Mouse studies reported in Drug Design, Development and Therapy have found that goji berries may suppress tumor growth and enhance the efficacy of cancer treatments.
4. Skin Health
Goji berries contain beta-carotene, a plant phytochemical known for promoting healthy skin. Beta-carotene is used in skin creams to improve skin health, minimize irritation, and manage the effects of sun exposure and aging. Research in mice has indicated that drinking goji juice can provide antioxidants that protect against UV light damage and skin disorders.
5. Blood Sugar Stabilization
Goji berries may assist in controlling blood sugar release. A 2015 study showed that goji berries help regulate insulin and glucose levels in the blood and are linked to increased HDL (good cholesterol) levels in individuals with type 2 diabetes.
6. Mental Health and Sleep Improvement
Studies have found that goji berries can alleviate depression and anxiety-like behaviors. In human research, participants who drank goji berry juice reported enhanced energy, mood, and digestive health. The study also indicated that goji berry juice consumption led to improved sleep quality, without any negative side effects.
7. Liver Protection
Traditional Chinese medicine has used goji berries to treat liver disease. Animal studies suggest that goji berries can support liver health and prevent the progression of alcohol-induced fatty liver disease. Additionally, research on human liver cancer cells has shown that goji berries may inhibit tumor growth.
Goji berries are often labeled as a superfood due to their phytochemical content, including polysaccharides, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin. Polysaccharides, a key feature of goji berries, are an important source of dietary fiber. In aging mice, these polysaccharides have been shown to improve immune function and enhance total antioxidant activity. Beta-carotene, responsible for the berries’ orange-red color, is crucial for eye, bone, skin health, and cell development. Zeaxanthin is believed to support the immune system and may prevent macular degeneration.
Availability and Usage of Goji Berries
Goji berries can be purchased from health food stores, Asian markets, or European markets. They can be easily incorporated into various foods such as smoothies, trail mixes, oatmeal, yogurt, salads, baked goods, desserts, and sweet sauces. They are also convenient for snacking on the go. Available in fresh, dried, juice, or supplement form, goji berries can be more expensive than other fruits, but their health benefits may justify the cost. Prices vary based on whether the product is organic, natural, or processed.