Goji berries are shriveled red berries that look like red raisins that grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are usually found dried, have a slight tangy taste, and belong to the nightshade (Solonaceae) family. Some other Names for Gojji berries include Lycium barbarum, wolfberry, gou qi zi, and Fructus lycii.
Goji Berries have more vitamin C pound for pound than oranges. Scientifically controlled studies using vitamin C for colds show that it can reduce the severity of cold symptoms, acting as a natural antihistamine. The vitamin may be useful for allergy control for the same reason: It may reduce histamine levels. By giving the immune system one of the important nutrients it needs, extra vitamin C can often shorten the duration of the cold. Being an important factor in collagen production, vitamin C is useful in wound healing of all types. From cuts and broken bones to burns and recovery from surgical wounds, vitamin C taken orally helps wounds to heal faster and better. I love using the dried goji berries in a salad for zap flavour and healthier salad.
Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India to:
- protect the liver
- help eyesight
- improve sexual function and fertility
- strengthen the legs
- boost immune function
- improve circulation
- promote longevity
Goji berries are also rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin's key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. In fact, increased intake of foods containing zeathanthin may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65.
In recent years, goji juice has become popular as a health beverage. Companies marketing goji juice often mention the unsupported claim that a man named Li Qing Yuen consumed goji berries daily and lived to be 252 years old. Marketers also list extensive health benefits of goji juice, even though there are few published clinical trials in humans.
In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are eaten raw, brewed into a tea, added to Chinese soups, or made into liquid extracts. Goji berries have appeared in snack foods in North America. For example, the health food store Trader Joe's sells a goji berry trail mix. Whole goji berries are available at Chinese herbal shops. Goji juice can be found in some health food stores, online stores, and through network marketers.
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