Superfood Profile: Goji Berry

Goji Berries are also called Wolfberries, based on the translation of their traditional Mandarin name “Gou qi zi,” meaning “wolf energy berry.” The Goji Berry is a popular superfood, and has been added to many foods, beverages and supplements because of its special nutritive powers. But is the Goji Berry worth all the hype? Below you’ll find a summary of the health benefits of Goji, as well as the health dangers of Goji and ideas for adding this superfood to your diet.

Health Benefits of Goji Berry

Goji Berries are a highly nutritious food with a number of health benefits. Goji Berries contain 21 trace minerals that are important for healthy functioning, including calcium, copper, iron and zinc. Like all berries, Goji Berries are high in antioxidants and strengthen the immune system. According to the US Department of Agriculture, Goji Berries have a significantly higher Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity than blueberries or blackberries. In addition to strengthening the immune system, antioxidants are said to lessen the effects of aging because they help repair damaged DNA. Traditional Chinese Medicine used Goji in remedies for improving eyesight, and modern science has found that the chemicals lutein and zeaxanthin in Goji neutralize the free radicals caused by too much sunlight and may improve eyesight. Scientific studies have found that Goji Juice helped to increase the therapeutic effect of radiation cancer treatment in mice, and one Chinese study found that the consumption of Goji Juice doubled the effectiveness of radiation cancer treatment in humans; unfortunately this study has yet to be duplicated.

Health Dangers of Goji Berry

Goji Berries contain selenium, a trace nutrient which, in excess, can cause brittle hair and nails as well as other health problems. The selenium content in Goji is probably not enough to cause a health risk, since humans can safely consume up to 150 micrograms of selenium per day, but if your diet regularly contains other high-selenium foods such as grains, cereals and meats, you may want to rethink your menu before adding Goji Berry to your diet.

Goji may interfere with some prescription medications. Since the Goji Berry is anti-coagulant, it could cause negative interactions with blood thinners, including a sudden drop in blood pressure or excessive bleeding. Goji may also have negative interactions with diabetes medications. Allergies to Goji Berry have not been documented, but anyone who has pollen allergies may also have a negative reaction to Goji Berries.

Ideas for Adding Goji Berry to Your Diet

Goji Berry may be purchased as juice or as a bulk fruit, and many products, such as cereals, teas and juices, may be already supplemented with Goji. Dried berries may need to be soaked before eating. Goji Berry products tend to be expensive, so it may be a good idea to sample Goji before you buy, in order to make sure you enjoy the taste. Below are some easy ideas for including this superfood in your diet.

*Top your cereal with dried Goji berries.
*Mix Goji juice into your smoothies.
*Flavor plain yogurt with Goji Juice.
*Drink teas that include Goji Berry.
*Make Goji Berry Chocolate by adding Goji powder to melted cocoa. Click here for a unique recipe!
*Add soaked Goji Berries to stir fry recipes.
*Include dried Goji Berries in oatmeal cookies.
*Use Goji Berries to replace sundried tomatoes in some recipes.
*Add dried Goji Berries to granola or trail mix.
*Some traditional Chinese soups call for Goji Berry (remember it may also be called wolfberry).

Sources:

A 2 Z of Health, Beauty and Fitness; The Health Benefits of Wolfberries; Dr Paul Gross http://health.learninginfo.org/wolfberries.htm

Buddy Slim; Calories in Dried Goji Berry (EatRaw) http://www.calories-nutrition.buddyslim.com/dried-goji-berries-eatraw/

Chet Day’s Health amp; Beyond Online; Goji: A Friendly Skeptic Looks at Goji Juice; Dr Ralph Moss http://chetday.com/gojijuice.htm

Eco-USA.net; Selenium http://www.eco-usa.net/toxics/chemicals/selenium.shtml

Garden Guides; What are the Dangers of Goji Berries?; Lauren Wise http://www.gardenguides.com/90564-dangers-goji-berries.html

Phytochemicals; Wolfberry http://www.phytochemicals.info/plants/wolfberry.php

WebMD; Goji Berries: Health Benefits and Side Effects http://www.webmd.com/balance/goji-berries-health-benefits-and-side-effects

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