Goji berries, also called the much cooler “wolfberries” in their native country, China, are a little fruit that promises big health benefits. Some even claim they’re a superfood. But, are these claims true, or just overblown marketing?
We’ve dug into the studies and found a few health benefits of goji berries that are actually backed by science. Some of them may surprise you!
Keeps Sicknesses Away
There are many fruits that boast immunity-boosting properties, and goji berries should be near the top of that list. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants and Vitamins A and C. What’s special about these vitamins is that they can act as antioxidants, providing a well-established boost to your immune system. Some studies note goji berries’ potential antioxidant benefits, such as improved immune responses and tumor immunity in the elderly, among other benefits. Seniors may be especially interested in goji berries because of their reported benefits in combatting the flu. One study found that goji berries may be able to enhance the effect of a flu shot!
Another study found that goji berries may even help shrink cancerous tumors.
Other studies point to the potential anticancer effects of goji berries. These effects are primarily related to their antioxidants, which prevent free radical damage, which may be one cause of cancer. One study looked at the effect of goji berry extract as a treatment for breast cancer. Due to the anticancer activity and the lack of toxicity, the study noted a “chemopreventive potential [for] Goji berries in breast cancer treatment.” Another study found that goji berries may even help shrink cancerous tumors. Please note that we’re not saying these are suitable replacements for traditional treatment options. Further research is needed, but these are promising findings as it stands. Always consult your doctor before taking your health into your hands.
Lowers Blood Sugar & Blood Pressure
Goji berries have long been a part of traditional Chinese medicine, which has led to studies in its medicinal qualities. A few of these studies began seeing intriguing links between consumption of wolfberries and blood sugar levels. In fact, a 2015 study had diabetic participants take a capsule with a main ingredient found in goji berries, or a placebo, twice a day for three months. It found that this ingredient had a “remarkable protective effect” on the patients, lowering their blood sugar while also raising their HDL levels (good cholesterol). Another study has called goji berries “an excellent alternative to currently available drugs” for the treatment of diabetes.
It found that this ingredient had a “remarkable protective effect” on the patients.
Additionally, goji berries could help to lower your blood pressure if its high. A 2015 study on rats saw goji berries found the same main ingredient of goji berries we just discussed also had an anti-hypertensive effect, yielding promising results for further study.
It’s normal to experience weakening eyesight, or vision impairment, as we age, but there are things you can do to slow the progression. Adding goji berries to your diet may be one of them. Studies observing the effects of goji berries specifically also found positive outcomes for eye health. One study on rats claims that the berry can lower rates of dry eye disease.
It protects against macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness and weakened eyesight in seniors.
As mentioned earlier, goji berries contain a lot of Vitamin A, which can help your eye health in a few ways. First, it protects against macular degeneration, one of the most common causes of blindness and weakened eyesight in seniors. Vitamin A has also been associated with lower rates of cataracts, the other big cause of poor eyesight. Vitamin C, the other major vitamin/antioxidant we discussed earlier, is also great for eye health. Another antioxidant found in goji berries is zeaxanthin. This antioxidant helps protect your eyes from harmful blue UV rays, preserving your eyesight for longer.
Good for Mental Health
One of the more interesting effects that goji berries may have on us has to do with our mental health. In the short-term, wolfberries have been found to improve one’s general sense of well-being, provide more restful sleep, and reduce anxious behaviors. One study saw these effects in participants only 14 days after drinking goji berry juice. This has been reinforced in other studies, though more research is necessary to confirm the relationship.
A Word of Caution
Due to some of the properties of wolfberries, there are cases where you shouldn’t add them to your diet. Goji berries may interact with warfarin or some diabetes and blood pressure medications. If you’re on any of these pills, check with your doctor before you start eating goji berries regularly.
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Will goji berries revolutionize your health and turn you into a healthy superhero? No — no individual food will do that. But, there is promising evidence that this fruit can have a positive influence on your general health. As long as you don’t fall into one of the circumstances that would not allow you to enjoy goji berries, adding them to your diet may be another way to enjoy a healthy lifestyle.