Superfoods is a term that is constantly bounded around in the health and fitness-sphere. Usually, it’s just a marketing gimmick, with the foods that claim to have superpowers being those that are highly dense and rich in nutrients. The Harvard Medical School lists several foods that can be considered “super”, although adds that they alone can’t provide the nutritional content we need to sustain ourselves, but instead should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.
The list includes fish, leafy greens, nuts, and berries. And there’s one berry in particular that you should really consider adding into your diet: the goji berry. Hailing from China, the goji berry has been grown for centuries and is often referred to as “the red diamond”. There’s a variety grown in Ningxia, a small region in the North West of China that is regarded as one of the best, thanks to the area’s geological makeup.
The Chinese have used the little red berries within traditional medicine practices for several years, as they’re believed to have myriad health benefits, including boosting liver and kidney function, as well as being crucial in supporting the health of your eyes and helping you to live longer.
But before you go thinking the benefits of goji berries, and Chinese medicine as a whole is a load of mumbo-jumbo, there are in fact a number of studies to support the claims.
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Amagase & Nance conducted a study in 2008 in which two groups were randomly formed. One group was asked to consume 120ml of GoChi juice (a juice containing Lycium barbarum, the official name for goji) while the other was given a placebo drink. After the 14 day trial period, participants were asked to rate on a scale of 1 to 5, there feelings of general wellbeing, as well as having various body analysis measurements taken.
The group that consumed the GoChi juice recorded a significant increase in energy levels, athletic performance, quality of sleep and a general feeling of happiness. The group also exhibited a decrease in stress levels and lower levels of fatigue. The placebo group also showed an increase in happiness, but parametric data (body weight, body mass, etc) showed no changes, but overall the researchers concluded that goji berries can have a significant impact on human health.
Another study, conducted by Chen et al. looked into the effects goji berries can have in fighting cancer. The researchers found that LBPs (Lycium barbarum polysaccharides, the primary active ingredient in Goji berries) displayed antitumour activities and were even found to inhibit tumour growth in mice. But of course, as with any study, more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits.
Still, the signs are positive, and goji berries are food you should definitely consider picking up next time you take a trip to the supermarket.