Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Goji Berry

Eat it raw, dried, cooked, or as juice; this bright reddish-orange berry has a mild sweet, sour, and tangy taste when dried, and has a chewy texture similar to a very dry raisin. Ancient Chinese medicine used goji berries for longevity and immunity. Today the goji berry has earned the reputation of being a super fruit thanks to its nutrient value. The berry contains various phytochemicals, phenolic pigments, calcium, vitamin C, selenium, riboflavin, beta-carotene, and zeaxanthin. These vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant compounds have led the way for preliminary medical research to identify possible healing powers within the goji berry. It is important to note at this time due to limited clinical trials no health claims have been substantiated and consumers should be aware of this when reading advertisements. 

Published studies have speculated from animal models and human pilot studies that goji berries may inhibit some forms of cancer, prevent oxidative stress, protect against retinal damage secondary to ischemia, and prevent against cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. From my research it appears only two published studies have tested goji on humans, one published in 1994 found people with cancer did respond better to treatment when goji was added into their diet.
When it comes to eyesight the antioxidant zeaxanthin found in goji berries absorbs blue light and protects the retina of the eye. Several studies show consuming foods rich in zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of macular degeneration. This compound is also found in paprika, corn, and saffron.
For most people eating goji berries along with other fruits and vegetables is an excellent was to add nutrients, antioxidants, and phytochemicals into their diet. Since research is ongoing and nothing is conclusive just yet I would recommend not “overdoing it” with the goji crazy, but certainly adding some goji into your diet can be part of a healthy lifestyle.

Goji berries can interact with some medications, particularly with the way they are metabolized in the liver. Taking goji with anticoagulants (especially warfarin) by increasing bleeding risk, drugs for diabetes by causing drops in blood suagr, and drugs for hypertension by causing your blood pressure to go too low. Goji can also stimulate the uterus and should not be used when pregnant or breastfeeding. Most interactions were seen in people consuming 3-4 cups of juice daily or 6-18g berries daily.

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