Goji Berries: Miracle Fruits From Tibet

Goji berries are often referred to as a miracle fruit with numerous health benefits. The small red berries actually contain valuable secondary plant substances and numerous antioxidants. Goji berries are a good source of iron, protect the eyes, and are very healthy for the cardiovascular system due to their blood-thinning effect.

Goji berries from Tibet

The goji berry (Lycium barbarum) is also called wolfberry, wolfberry or happy berry. The home of the goji berry is in China and Mongolia. And so it has been an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine for many thousands of years for a wide variety of symptoms.

However, the goji berry also grows in some regions of Tibet in the Himalayas. The goji berries from Tibet in particular are characterized by a particularly juicy and sweet quality and have a higher vital substance profile than goji berries from other regions of the world.

Like potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers, goji berries belong to the nightshade family. In contrast to the latter, however, the goji bush is hardy and can therefore also be planted in central European regions.

Superfood goji berry

Foods that have an enormously high density of nutrients and vital substances and therefore come up with an incredible number of positive health properties are called superfoods.

These foods usually contain a combination of antioxidant phytonutrients (secondary plant compounds), vital nutrients, essential fatty acids, and non-dispensable amino acids that act in a particularly effective synergy with each other.

Goji berries are one such superfood. Packed with an extraordinary amount of unique nutrients and antioxidants, they provide surprising strength and energy as part of a healthy, alkaline diet.

However, it can be assumed that goji berries are not alone in this effect. Other foods, especially other berries, are comparable superfoods and can have a very similar potential.

Goji berries as a source of iron

In particular, goji berries provide a lot of vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene) and plenty of iron, namely more iron than spinach: between 6.8 and 12.2 mg per 100 g of goji berries (depending on the source), so already 50 grams of dried goji berries can make a significant contribution to covering iron requirements. The iron requirement for adults is between 10 mg (men) and 15 mg (women).

Goji berries also provide 21 important trace elements (including – as it is called – germanium), which are hardly found in our staple foods today due to the often depleted agricultural soils.

Nutritional values in goji berries

The following nutritional values refer to the dried goji berries, as these are usually available in stores and fresh berries do not taste really tasty either. All values refer to 100 g of dried berries:

  • Energy: 325 – 349 kcal
  • Water: 11.3g
  • Carbohydrates: 55 g (of which 21 g glucose, 24.2 g fructose, 5.5 g sorbitol, 4.2 g sucrose)
  • Fat: 2.7g
  • Protein: 11.8g
  • Fiber: 11 g
  • PRAL value: -11.9 (foods with a negative sign (minus) are considered basic)

Goji berries for healthy eyes into old age

Goji berries are also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, two plant substances from the group of carotenoids. These two vital substances with an antioxidant effect are part of the basic care for healthy eyes and a healthy nervous system.

In fact, they are so important to the eyes that foods high in lutein and zeaxanthin are recommended to prevent macular degeneration, one of the most common eye diseases in people over 60. So, goji berries fit very well into an eye-healthy diet.

Goji berries for a strong immune system

Goji berries also provide so-called polysaccharides. These are complex carbohydrates that have been shown to improve immunity by activating T lymphocytes. These are specialized defense cells that are particularly focused on fighting cancer cells and viruses.

The polysaccharides of the goji berry have a similar chemical structure to the immune-boosting substances in echinacea, coneflowers, or the maitake mushroom, a so-called medicinal or medicinal mushroom. Echinacea is often used to stimulate the immune system and to promote the cellular defenses in (seasonal) times when there is a risk of infection, while the medicinal mushroom is not only prescribed for cancer prevention but also to accompany chemotherapy, as it can significantly reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Goji berries for the intestinal flora

Goji polysaccharides are also one of the preferred sources of energy for our beneficial gut bacteria. As is well known, the intestinal flora has many extremely important tasks. It ensures effective digestion, regular and problem-free bowel movements, optimal absorption of nutrients, and healthy and intact intestinal mucosa.

In this way, a healthy intestinal flora prevents fermentation and putrefaction processes, infections with fungi or harmful bacteria, chronic inflammatory processes, and also leaky gut syndrome, which in turn can be the cause of allergies or autoimmune diseases.

Goji berries are therefore a food that can be very well integrated into the diet during and after intestinal cleansing.

Goji berries against chronic inflammation

Because of their anti-inflammatory effects, goji berries are used in Asia as part of therapies for chronic inflammatory diseases such as asthma, allergies, chronic pain, and even cancer.

Since autoimmune diseases are also associated with severe inflammatory reactions, goji berries can also belong in the holistic catalog of measures to alleviate autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis, lupus erythematosus, or Crohn’s disease.

Goji berries for detox

The polysaccharides from goji berries also support the detoxification of the body very effectively, as they accelerate the elimination of metabolic residues.

Are goji berries suitable for athletes?
Goji berries are an ideal snack for athletes and people who love their fitness, as the polysaccharides in goji berries increase muscle performance. On the one hand, the goji polysaccharides help to remove metabolic waste such as lactic acid, which accumulates in the muscles during physical activity.

On the other hand, the polysaccharides also promote glycogen storage in the muscles and at the same time reduce oxidative stress in the muscles, which means that the muscles can perform better and tire less quickly. In this way, regular consumption of goji berries can lead to greater fitness, more muscle strength, and better endurance.

Goji berries for optimal stress management

Goji berries are a rich source of certain secondary plant substances, the so-called sesquiterpenes. They promote the release of human growth hormones in the pituitary gland. In addition, goji berries contain the amino acids L-arginine and L-glutamine, as well as the basic mineral potassium. These three nutrients, or micronutrients, also support healthy growth hormone production.

Incidentally, growth hormones are not only there for growth during childhood and puberty but have many more tasks. On the one hand, of course, you also support the increase in muscle mass, which in turn will please ambitious athletes.

On the other hand, they also lead to better stress resistance. As a result, the goji berry is, among other things, a so-called adaptogen. Adaptogens can increase the body’s ability to successfully adapt to stress.

Interaction with blood thinners?

Based on four case reports, some places warn against goji berries when people are taking medication that inhibits blood clotting, e.g. phenprocoumon (Marcumar) or warfarin.

Goji berries are said to interact with these drugs and increase their effects, which can then increase the risk of internal bleeding.

And indeed: In the four case reports mentioned, the INR value of the patients (who had been on their blood-thinning medication for years) suddenly increased noticeably when they took the goji berries (as tea, juice, or in the form of berries) and decreased after “weaning” of the goji berries again.

The INR value is higher, the longer the blood clotting time (i.e. the longer it takes for the blood to clot in the event of an injury) and the greater the tendency to bleed.

Blood thinners increase INR. However, goji berries are said to increase the effect of these drugs in such a way that the value may become too high.

Are goji berries dangerous?

In some articles on the Internet, goji berries are now described as “dangerous” due to the described blood-thinning effect. Of course, that is not the case. Goji berries are not inherently dangerous. You just shouldn’t take the berries in large quantities together with blood thinners.

It is also not only about the goji berry, which is warned about in connection with phenprocoumon, but also about other very healthy foods, e.g. B. garlic or turmeric.

Please read the case reports and the connections from page 13 onwards: So it is not even certain how goji berries affect the drug. It is even suspected that goji berries have a direct blood-thinning effect and only, therefore, increase the macular effect.

So instead of warning about excellent food and portraying it as a danger, doctors and universities should rather find out whether taking the goji berry could actually replace the drug in many cases.

Goji Juice and Goji Powder

Of course, there is also goji powder that you can mix in shakes and smoothies. Goji juice has also been available for a long time. However, due to their strong crushing, powder and juice are susceptible to oxidation processes, which reduces the vital substance content, so we would rather use dried berries.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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