The Power of Goji Berries
Goji berries, like açai and several other super fruits of the moment, are literally loaded with health benefits.
Also known as wolfberries, goji berries have emerged from obscurity to superstar status in only a few years.
What is it about this exotic fruit that is responsible for its newfound claim to fame? Below, we’ll explore some of their most notable attributes.
Goji Berries Have Powerful Antioxidant Effects
Although goji has long been used therapeutically in Chinese medicine, much of the early scientific research involving the fruit was limited to the analysis of its chemical compounds, which include beta-sitosterol, betaine hydrochloride, along with antioxidants.
In 1993, research revealed an antioxidant effect for goji berry similar to that of superoxide dismutase (SOD), an antioxidant naturally produced by the human body.1
This was later confirmed in a human trial, which found significant improvement in SOD and another of the body's antioxidants, glutathione peroxidase, in healthy adults who received goji extracts for 30 days.2
A study published in 1997 revealed that goji berries lowered inflammation and had antioxidant effects in rats.3
Goji Berries Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Like many plant foods, goji has anticancer properties. In an early cancer trial, the addition of goji polysaccharides (a type of carbohydrate) to immunotherapy was more effective against several types of cancer than immunotherapy alone.4
In human leukemia cells, administration of goji polysaccharides resulted in apoptosis (cell death) in a dose-dependent manner (meaning the higher the dose, the stronger the effect).5 Later research showed that goji berry protected the heart from the toxic effects of the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin without compromising its antitumor action.6
In a study involving prostate cancer cells, goji polysaccharides inhibited growth and induced apoptosis. When tested in mice, goji was associated with a reduction in tumor size in comparison with a control group of animals.7
Goji Berries Lower Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
Goji berries could be helpful for those with elevated blood sugar or cholesterol levels.8 Research comparing the effects of goji seed oil with lovastatin (a cholesterol-reducing drug) found that both similarly reduced atherosclerosis9.
And in rats with diabetes, gojipolysaccharides alleviated insulin resistance and lowered cholesterol levels.10
Goji Berries Are Good for Your Brain
One of the more exciting areas of recent research involving goji has to do with its effects in the brain. In a study involving rat neurons exposed to amyloid beta (the toxic substance found in the brains of Alzheimer's disease patients), pretreatment with goji extract elicited a neuroprotective effect.11
In rat neurons exposed to homocysteine, a damaging compound associated with dementia, gojipolysaccharides reduced cell death, indicating the potential for the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.12
In a different study, rodents given goji polysaccharides were protected against memory issues associated with the drug scopolamine, a brain-damaging drug.13
Goji Berries May Improve Well-Being
In 2008, a trial showed individuals who drank goji juice experienced increased energy, athletic performance, improved sleep quality, ability to focus, and health and well-being, in addition to reduced fatigue and stress, in comparison with those who received a placebo.14
A subsequent study examining the results of four trials confirmed many of these effects, as well as improvements in breathing, depression, and circulation.15
In a study that involved 29 adults, goji juice has also been associated with an increased metabolic rate and a reduction in waist circumference in comparison with a placebo.16
Goji Berries Are Not for Everybody
It might surprise you to learn that goji, like tomato, potato, chili peppers and eggplant, are members of the Solanaceae family, which includes the nightshades.
We should note that some people have found improvement in arthritis symptoms following elimination of nightshades from their diets.
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------Excerpt from The Magic Ningxia Goji（edited by Ningxia Qixiang chairman, Wang Zi Gui and CEO Wang Xin).