Goji, goji berry, or wolfberry (Chinese: pinyin), is the fruit of either Lycium barbarum or Lycium Lycium chinense, two closely related species of boxthorn in the nightshade family, Solanaceae L. Barbarum and L. chinense fruits are similar but can be distinguished by differences in taste and sugar content.
Both species are native to Asia, and have been long used in traditional Asian cuisine.
The fruit has also been an ingredient in Traditional Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Japanese medicine, since at least the 3rd century CE. The plant parts are called by the Latin names lycii frustus (fruit), herbs lycii (leaves), etc., in modern officials pharmacopeias.
Since about 2000, goji berry and derived products became common in developed countries as health foods or alternative medicine remedies, extending from exaggerated and unproven claims about their health benefits.
POSSIBLE HEALTH BENEFITS OF GOJI BERRY
■PROTECTS THE EYES
Goji berries are believed to protect against age-related eye diseases.
Goji berries can help vision because they contain high levels of healthy antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin.
The same antioxidants can also stop damage from:
One study reported in the American Academy of Optometry’s journal Optometry and vision Science found that seniors who drank goji berry juice for 90 days increased zeaxanthin and other antioxidant levels significantly.
A second study reported in the Journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy shows goji berries protect the retina from the ganglion cells responsible for glaucoma, a condition that can lead to vision loss.
■ PROVIDES IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPORT
Goji berries contain healthy antioxidants. Antioxidants are known for their immune-boosting qualities and their ability to fight harmful free radicals and inflammation.
Goji berries contain large amounts of vitamin A and C similarly to other berries, including blueberries and raspberries. Vitamin A and C are vital for building immunity and preventing illnesses, ranging from the common cold and to cancer.
■ PROTECT AGAINST CANCER
High levels of antioxidants, including vitamin C, zeaxanthin and carotenoids,are responsible for fighting cancer cells. Antioxidants slow tumor growth, reduce inflammation, and help to remove harmful substances from the body.
Research on mice, reported in the journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy, finds goji berries may inhibit tumor growth and boost the effectiveness of cancer treatment.
■ PROMOTES HEALTHY SKIN
Goji berries contain beta-carotene, which is an essential plant phytochemicals. Beta-carotene is known for its ability to promote healthy skin
Beta-carotene is an ingredient used in skin creams to:
●improve ski health
●reduce skin irritation
●manage the effects of the sun
●manage the impact of aging
One study in mice found that when they drank 5 percent goji juice, it gave them enough antioxidants to protect against UV light damage and skin disorders.
■STABILIZE BLOOD SUGAR
Goji berries may be helpful in controlling the release of sugar into the blood. Research from 2015 shows that goji berries balance insulin and glucose levels in the blood
The same study linked goji berries to increased HDL levels in people with type 2 diabetes. HDL is known as good cholesterol.
■IMPROVES DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND SLEEP
Research from 2016 that was done using rats shows goji berries can improve depression and anxiety-like behaviors.
Another study in the United States, using humans also found drinking goji berry juice could improve energy, mood, and digestive health.
In this study, healthy adult participants consumed 120 millimeters of goji berry juice daily or a placebo drink for 14 days.
They completed questionnaires to record their feelings of wellbeing, neurological and psychological health, musculoskeletal symptoms, and digestive and cardiovascular complaints, as well as any adverse effects of the juice each day.
The researchers took measurements to record each participant’s blood pressure, body mass weight, pulse, and vision before and after the 14 days of study.
The group given the goji berry juice recorded improved energy, ability to focus, enhanced athletic performance, mental acuity, and feelings of calmness and contentment by day 15.
The study also showed improved quality of sleep in those who consumed the goji berry juice, and none experienced negative effects related to drinking the juice.
PREVENT LIVER DAMAGE
Goji berries have been used to treat liver disease in traditional Chinese medicine.
Research on animal models indicates goji berries can help with managing liver health and preventing the progression of alcohol-induced fatty liver disease.
Research on human liver cells has also found the goji berry can inhibit tumor growth.
WHAT MAKES GOJI BERRIES GOOD?
Goji berries are often called a superfood because they contain chemical compounds called phytochemicals that are produced by plants. Phytochemicals in goji berries include polysaccharides, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin.
Polysaccharides are a primary characteristic of the goji berry. These are an essential source of dietary fiber. A study using aging mice found that polysaccharides in goji berries helped with improving immune function and increasing total antioxidant activity in the body.
Beta-carotene is responsible for the orange-red color pigment in goji berries. Beta-carotene is vital for eye health, bone health, skin health and cell development. The amount of beta-carotene in goji berries is among the highest of all edible plants.
Zeaxanthin plays a crucial role in supporting the immune system. Many researchers believe that zeaxanthin can prevent macular degeneration, a progressive vision impairment that occurs when the central part of the retina, or macula, deteriorates.