The health benefits of goji berries

The health benefits of goji berries
Gorgeous goji berries

Chinese and Tibetan healers have used it for centuries, and now the sweet red fruit known as the goji berry is one of the most sought-after fruits to come out of Asia.

Goji berries have been praised for their nutritional qualities for more than 2,000 years, across the rural areas of China, Tibet and Mongolia.

The ancient tale of the goji berry speaks of a remote village where the community of people never got ill. The water from the well was said to be rich in nutrients from all the goji berries that had fallen into it from the branches of a nearby tree.

Growing in mineral-rich soil, the berries – also known as Wolfberries and scientifically named Lycium barbum – were used as ancient remedies to treat kidney problems, cleanse the blood, help lower high cholesterol and improve the condition of the skin.

Fans also boast that its benefits include increased strength, sexual performance and a longer life-span.

Goji berries are rich in antioxidants to aid the functioning of the immune system, helping fight the free radicals that contribute to cancer and ageing.

If you are looking for an alternative to carrots for improving your vision, the Asian fruit is a great source of beta-carotene, which is converted into Vitamin A by the liver. Beta-carotene helps to improve vision in dim lighting, preventing cataracts and maintains cell growth.

The zeaxanthin found in goji berries also contributes to better eye function.

Eating goji berries will provide your body with vitamins B1, B2, B6 and E, all of which are essential for breaking down amino acids and fats, and converting carbs into energy.  They also contain as many as 22 minerals (including zinc, iron, copper, calcium and selenium) and 11 amino acids.

20 health benefits of berries

Eating gojis can be beneficial for inflammation and skin disease too, as they contain polysaccharides: a carbohydrate molecule that contains mucilage, which creates a protective film on the skin.

In 1994 the Chinese Journal of Oncology conducted an experiment with cancer patients that involved separating them into two groups, giving one group goji berries to aid their cancer treatment and leaving another group to receive treatment without eating goji berries. 

The results of the study found that the 79 patients who had received the goji berries responded far better to treatment than those who did not consume any.

Choose Chinese food for healthy eating

Is there no end to the wonders of the humble goji berry? Apparently not: they contain 13% more protein than whole meat, and more iron than spinach. Great if you're at risk of anaemia.

One thing to remember is that goji berries from China are slightly different from their Tibetan counterparts, in respects to their properties, but the benefits remain largely the same.

Low-calorie snack ideas