Goji Berry: Mostly Hype Or True Superfood?
You may have noticed Goji Berries cropping up at your local health food store, or even at some grocery stores and supermarkets. These small dried fruits look a bit like raisins, only red and a little pointed at either end. These berries are now being touted as one of the most antioxidant-rich health trends, and dried goji berries, goji extracts, and goji juice are making the tour of the health world.
The Goji Berry, also known as “wolfberry,” is the common name for the Lycium barbarum berry. These small red fruits have been cultivated in the Himalayas, Mongolia, and in China for thousands of years, where they are used in soups and teas, as well as in traditional medicines.
The Goji berry certainly has an impressive nutritional profile. It contains several antioxidants, including beta-carotene and in zeazanthin, which may potentially help prevent macular degeneration and glaucoma in the elderly, helping to preserve vision. It also contains lutein, lycopene, and several antioxidant pigments, known as “phenols.” They are also high in Vitamin C, Vitamins B1 and B2, as well as other vitamins.
Whether or not the Goji berry has the potential to play a part in preventing cancer has yet to be proven in a peer-reviewed study. One study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology suggested that cancer patients responded better to treatment when they were also eating goji berries, but there have been few clinical trials done on humans with the berry. That hasn’t stopped health food stores, as well as several well-known celebrities, from jumping on the bandwagon. The hype surrounding the berry has grown to include the unsubstantiated claim that a Chinese man named Li Qing Yuen lived to be 252 years old by consuming the berries daily.
While the hype claiming that the Goji berry is the new “superfruit” may yet be unfounded, it is certainly a nutritious fruit that can be added in moderate amounts to your diet. The dried berries are slightly sweet, and taste somewhat like raisins. They can be found in goji berry trail mixes, granola bars, and other food products at supermarkets (Trader Joe’s, for example, carries Goji trail mix). Goji tea mixes can be found at Asian markets, and Goji extracts and juices can be found at health food stores.
As with any new nutritional regimen, consume Goji berries in moderation and with caution. Some studies have shown that excessive consumption of the berry may interfere with some anticoagulant drugs. If in doubt, consult your healthcare practitioner.