Published on June 26th, 2013 | by Joe Starks0
Fitness Jargonbuster: Goji
Goji berries are a type of fruit that come from the plant Lycium Barbarum. The plant is a relative of the tomato, chili pepper and potato. It can be found in southeastern Europe and Asia. For years it has been used for teas and sweets, as it has a very pleasant taste. The shape of the fruit looks like an almond almost and its color is a bright orange-red.
The main use of goji berries has always been a culinary one. It was eaten dried or cooked in rice and soup dishes all over Asia. The shoots of the plant can be eaten as a vegetable and even wines have been produces from the fruit.
Recently though, researches have been looking into any medicinal properties or health benefits the fruits might have. As these things go, the consumption of goji berries became wide spread way before any serious scientific results were made. You can buy dried goji berries almost in any health shop or drink a goji berry juice. The question isn’t really how healthy this fruit is, but what does it really have that makes it so much more popular than normal berries. Is it just a fad or a real so called super-food?
Health benefits of the goji berry
Like many berries, the goji berry contains lots of useful nutrients. They are quite healthy to eat since they contain vitamins and minerals and they don’t contain lots of calories. The goji berry is not a complete source of nutrients. So eating just that or eating it as a vitamin supplement is not a good idea, since it does not contain all vitamins and even those it does contain are not all in recommended amounts.
So what do goji berries contain that is so good for us? Let’s take look at the most important nutrients in a goji berry:
- Antioxidants. Many berries are rich in antioxidants and the goji berry is one of them. Antioxidants help the body regulate itself and can prevent heart disease and other symptoms in people who have poor diets.
- Vitamin A rich compounds. Vitamin a is good for all our tissues, but especially important for us to retain our vision. The cells in our eyes that react to light need a lot of vitamin A to be rebuilt, so that we can receive the next image. Many foods contain vitamin A and deficiencies are extremely rare, so eating lots of goji just for that isn’t very helpful.
- Preliminary studies have shown a positive correlation between improved brain health and goji berry consumption. Preliminary means that nothing is certain yet and this can be just a false correlation.
- Eating different types of fruit and exotic ones especially can help you have a more balanced natural diet. Eating goji instead of an apple once in a blue moon could be very good for you, but the same would go for bananas.
Side effects of goji berries
The side effects of goji berries aren’t anything to worry about if you are a healthy individual. As a healthy person you can freely enjoy goji berries whenever you like. Some people might not be so lucky, because goji berries can interfere with some drugs and cause trouble to ill people. Here is a list of goji berry side effects:
- People with serious pollen allergy should avoid consuming the fruit.
- People with diabetes should not eat goji berries, because they can drop blood sugar, which is dangerous if the individual is taking insulin or having trouble maintaining a steady blood sugar level.
- Goji berries contain atropine, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea if you consume a large amount.
- The berries interact with warfarin, a blood thinning medicine usually given to people whose blood clots easily.
- Goji berries are rich in selenium, which is a trace element. If ingested in large amounts it can be severely poisonous.
Goji berries are very nutritious and delicious fruit. Eating them once in a while for fun and to supplement a balanced diet is pleasant and can have plenty of benefits for your health. The benefits of goji berries are quite similar to those of other berries like blueberries, so there is no need to prefer one over the other.
Unless you suffer from diabetes or pollen allergies you should be safe to ingest them. Beware of eating too much of this tasty snack, since its selenium content is high and it also contains atropine which can cause vomiting when taken in large amounts. Enjoy some goji once in a while and you will have the full benefits berries can offer, without the side effects.