Goji: The anti-aging, antioxidant powerhouse
Real Food Recipes
I can’t stand health food trends. Until I realize that, hey, this is pretty great! And then I love them!
As with green smoothies, kombucha, and chia seeds, I’m now hooked on goji berries. You have likely heard of these coral-colored antioxidant powerhouses. They’re the new craze, after all. But their use actually goes way back, almost 1,700 years in fact. Traditional Chinese and Tibetan health practitioners prescribed goji berries to protect the kidneys and liver, improve eyesight, improve fertility, improve circulation, boost the immune system, and generally promote a long life.
According to Tufts University researchers, goji berries have one of the highest ORAC ratings (a system which ranks antioxidant power). The antioxidants contained in goji berries have numerous anti-aging and overall benefits:
- Generally, antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which damage DNA and cause cells to grow abnormally. Damage to our DNA opens the door to disease and accelerates aging.
- The antioxidant xeaxanthin plays a key role in protecting the retina of the eye. For this reason, goji berries are said to help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65.
- Astaxanthin, the antioxidant known as “natural sunscreen,” helps reverse and protect the skin from sun damage.
- Beta-carotene helps fight inflammation and encourages new skin cell growth.
- Zinc boosts the immune system and also helps maintain brain structure and health. It is also necessary for cell growth and renewal, and deficiency is believed to play a role in the development of most cancers.
In total, goji berries contain nearly 20 different vitamins and minerals, and 18 different amino acids (the building blocks to protein), making them an extremely nutrient-dense food.
Sources and further reading:
- WebMD, Goji Berries: Health Benefits and Side Effects
- Mother nature Network, Spotlight on goji berries: Health benefits, tips and recipes
- About Alternative Medicine, Goji Berries: Health Benefits, Common Uses, Side Effects & More
They are easy to grow. Put some dried berries in damp, non-peat based compost. They like most soils but not peat. Once they are 15cm high transplant into soil. They’ll need protection from slugs and some support – they can’t quite make up their mind if they are a bush or a vine. Don’t expect berries for some years though. Once they flower you’ll need to protect them from birds.
Do you know of a source for Goji berries that isn’t China?