The Goji berry, or wolfberry fruit as it’s known in China, has gained quite a bit of attention over the past few years, despite it being tiny in comparison to other superfood berries, but the size is irrelevant in this case because this fruit packs a massive nutritional punch.
Not to be confused with Goumi berries, another similar looking superfood, the goji berry has been a staple in traditional Chinese medicine and has been discovered to have been used by monks in the Himalayan mountains, where they steeped them in hot water to aid meditation and promote vitality.
The bright red berries grow on a boxthorn plant in the nightshade family, which gives it relations to tomatoes, aubergine, and chilli peppers. Generally, they’re eaten raw, dried, or rehydrated in water.
So what makes goji berries a superfood?
They’re so much more than giving you Instagrammable smoothies. They are a low-calorie, fat-free, and high-fibre fruit, and perfect for mid-afternoon snacks. They can fight free radicals, plus you will be getting 134 per cent of your daily vitamin A, 25 per cent of vitamin C, and healthy unsaturated fatty acids.
It also includes vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6 and E, and more than 20 trace minerals, including iron, copper, zinc, calcium, selenium and phosphorus.
It contains a surprisingly high amount of protein for a fruit – 4g of protein per 28g – which makes them ideal for pre- and post-workout shakes, which with the high fibre levels means they can stave off blood sugar spikes.
You’ll also be getting all eleven essential amino acids, which is more than can be said of common berries and an incredibly rare trait for a fruit to have.
Antioxidants like zeaxanthin and lutein can help stop the damage from a number of eye-related issues, such as UV light exposure, free radicals and oxidative stress.
Goji berries also offer more beta-carotene than carrots, which helps macular degeneration as you age. Our bodies also convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, which means it can boost our immune systems
The high antioxidant properties in goji berries help keep your body primed to defend itself against free radicals and inflammation, which in turn can prevent illnesses from the common cold to cancer.
Goji berries have a low glycemic index, meaning they realise sugar more slowly into the bloodstream while alleviating insulin resistance, but they do contain sugar, so hold back on the binging just yet!
The antioxidants in goji berries help our skin regenerate cells, keeping it soft and youthful. The high levels of beta-carotene and a ton of different types of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, mean that goji berries can help reduce acne, promote collagen production, and even out skin tone in the long run.
Goji berries were long used in traditional Chinese medicine to help manage liver health, and help prevent fatty liver disease brought on by alcohol – may be ideal for the post-lockdown health kick after all those Zoom cocktail parties!
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