Goji berries: properties, benefits and how to take them

Goji berries: properties, benefits and how to take them

Goji berries are small sweet fruits rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help improve health and beauty

Index

  • What are
  • Properties and benefits
  • How to take them
  • Contraindications

What are

Goji berries are the fruits of Lycium barbatum, a plant native to some Asian countries that belongs to the Solanaceae family, the same as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and other plants that have long been exploited for food. During the summer months, goji produces small elongated berries, one or two centimeters long, deep orange or red in color and rich in seeds.

Goji berries have a pleasant and sweet taste and, in the countries of origin of the plant, they are consumed both as a food and exploited for their medicinal properties. In fact, Chinese medicine has always used the goji plant for health, using fruits, leaves, bark and root for the treatment of various ailments. Juices, infusions and drinks are also prepared with fresh goji berries, including alcoholic ones used to support liver and kidney function, to improve eyesight and for their anti-aging properties. Here, goji berries are mainly dried and are used as a superfood to stimulate metabolism, prevent the effects of aging and to increase the body's immune defenses.

The goji plant also has great ornamental value and can be grown in gardens or on balconies and terraces. It can be found for sale in well-stocked nurseries: if well cared for, from July to October it produces numerous berries that can be picked and consumed fresh or after drying.

Properties and benefits

Goji berries are made up of about 46% carbohydrates, 13% protein and 1.5% fat and contain good percentages of vitamins and minerals. The vitamins most represented in these small fruits are vitamin c, vitamin A and some vitamins of the B group, including thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3) while as regards minerals, in goji berries we find good quantities of copper, manganese, selenium and magnesium. However, the compounds responsible for the properties of goji berries seem to be mainly polysaccharides, carotenoids and phenols (phenolic acids and flavonoids). Thanks to the presence of these substances, goji berries have antioxidant, immunomodulating and protective properties and their consumption is indicated in particular for:

  • prevent vision problems and retinopathies
  • increase the immune defenses
  • improve fat metabolism
  • reduce blood sugar
  • prevent brain aging and neurovegetative diseases
  • preserve the health of the cardiovascular system
  • fight wrinkles and skin aging

As for eye health, the extracts obtained from goji berries have shown a potential beneficial effect on visual function thanks to a protective action on the retina. The consumption of goji berries also has a hypoglycemic and lipid-lowering action, that is, reducing the levels of glucose and lipids – LDL cholesterol and triglycerides – in the blood, with possible preventive effects on diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Goji berries can then protect brain health, help prevent neurodegenerative diseases, improve the immune response in case of diseases. Thanks to the presence of antioxidant substances, goji berries also help improve the appearance of the skin, preventing wrinkles and loss of skin tone and protecting the skin from damage caused by the sun. The consumption of goji berries, inserted in a context of balanced nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, can contribute to well-being, health and beauty.

How to take them

Goji berries are easily found on the market in the form of dried or dehydrated fruit and can be eaten as a snack or used to enrich numerous dishes. When fresh, these small berries have a taste similar to that of cherry tomatoes, while when dried they take on a taste reminiscent of dried figs.

A serving of goji berries corresponds to about 30 grams and provides just over 100 calories, mainly given by carbohydrates (about 50%, mostly sugar) followed by proteins and fats. Thanks to the high sugar content, you can add, according to your tastes, to naturally sweeten a wide variety of products including muesli for breakfast, mix of dried fruit, fruit and vegetable smoothies, natural yogurt and smoothie. Goji berries can also be used in the preparation of flavored waters, to encourage the consumption of liquids throughout the day, enriching the water with vitamins and minerals.

Goji berries can then be used to decorate spoon or baked desserts, i.e. puddings, creams, cakes and biscuits. Then there is no shortage of combinations with savory dishes such as vegetable side dishes based on pumpkin, courgettes, carrots and peppers, mixed salads and aged cheeses.

Contraindications

Goji berries have no particular contraindications and side effects. Their consumption, however, is to be avoided in case of allergies to this food and is not recommended in people who take medications or anticoagulant remedies, with which goji berries could interfere, increasing their effect.

Read also

  • Superfoods: what they are, what they are and health benefits
  • Vitamin D and C: foods to strengthen the immune system
  • Elderberries, antioxidants and low-calorie: the benefits in the diet
  • Laurel: what is it for, properties and contraindications
  • Coffee berries, the beneficial effects on the diet

Tag: Fruit

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