Tuesday, April 2, 2013
Article # 441. Goji Berries – Health Benefits
Have you been wondering about the health benefits of goji berries and goji juice? Some claim that goji berries are the next fountain of youth. But what is the goji berry and can it really prevent chronic illness? And do dried goji berries have side effects? Here are answers to your questions.
What Is a Goji Berry?
The goji berry is also called the wolfberry. It is a bright orange-red berry that comes from a shrub that's native to China. In Asia, goji berries have been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer.
Over time, people have used goji berries to treat many common health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, and age-related eye problems. Goji berries are eaten raw, cooked, or dried (like raisins) and are used in herbal teas, juices, wines, and medicines.
What Are the Benefits of Goji Berries?
Research shows that eating berries -- like blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, strawberries, and cherries -- offers some definite health benefits. Berries like the goji berry are filled with powerful antioxidants and other compounds that may help prevent cancer and other illnesses, including heart disease. Antioxidants may also boost the immune system and lower cholesterol.
Eating foods high in antioxidants may slow the aging process as well. It does this by minimizing damage from free radicals that injure cells and damage DNA. When a cell's DNA changes, the cell grows abnormally. Antioxidants can take away the destructive power of free radicals. By doing so, antioxidants help reduce the risk of some serious diseases.
Goji berries also have compounds rich in vitamin A that may have anti-aging benefits. These special compounds help boost immune function, protect vision, and may help prevent heart disease.
Some research suggests that goji berry extracts may boost brain health and may protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's.
Other studies using goji berry juice founds benefits in mental well-being, and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health. These are preliminary studies that need to be repeated before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
While goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants -- and early research shows a potentially powerful health benefit -- it's still unclear how they stack up against other berries. Researchers also don't know whether goji berry supplements have the same health benefits as the actual berries.
Do Goji Berries Have Side Effects?
There may be some possible herb-drug interactions with goji berries. If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you may want to avoid goji berries. Goji berries may also interact with diabetes and blood pressure drugs.
Also, if you have pollen allergies, you may want to stay away from this fruit. However, when eaten in moderation, goji berries appear to be safe. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.