Medicinal properties of Goji Berry

There’s a new rage in health food supplements that dietary manufacturers and marketers have propagated in recent years. This food supplement fad involves Goji berry and the many beneficial claims that it brings with regular intake of its various product forms and formulations. The marketing claims are particularly intense for organic Goji berry products which supposedly carry some “Green Certificates” that no fertilizer or pesticide has been used in their cultivation.

Actually, there’s nothing new in the association of Goji berry as a healthy food. The plant has been cultivated for centuries as a food source in Asia, particularly in China where it is more popularly known as wolfberry. In Chinese cuisine, Goji berries or wolfberries are dried and cooked for consumption. These are often used in rice congee and potent Chinese soups containing a combination of vegetables, herbs and pork. A herbal tea could also be brewed from boiled Goji berries. These berries could also be fermented into wine that is sometimes blended with grape. Lately, a Chinese brewer also turned into the manufacture of a wolfberry beer. An instant coffee product flavoured with the berries’ extract has also gone into production in China.

The medicinal properties of Goji berry has also long been know to the traditional Chinese medicine practitioners who concocted herbal tea from the plant’s leaves and the bark of Lycium root for treating inflammation and certain types of skin ailments. In vitro tests have shown that some properties of Goji berry root bark have inhibitory effects on fungi and bacteria.

In current marketing literature of food supplement manufacturers, Goji berry products’ health benefits ostensibly come from polysaccharides which, in vitro tests show, have anti-oxidant properties. Another important anti-oxidant, zeaxanthin, is purportedly present in Goji berry. The potential benefits that are suggested to result from these anti-oxidants are in the prevention of glaucoma and other vision-related ailments, cancer as well as cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.

While these claims have yet to be scientifically verified, Goji berry indeed can supply the daily macronutrients that the body needs like protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber and fat. Many pythochemicals and nutrients are also present in Goji berry such as amino acids, vitamins, amino acids, beta-carotene, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and riboflavin.

The nutrient contents of Goji berry, however, vary depending on several factors. These variables include the post-harvest handling and processing of the Goji berry, storage duration, maturation or ripeness at harvest time, assay preparation, residual content, and soil conditions and geographical region where the berries came from.

Notwithstanding these variables, Goji berries remain as a mainstay in crop production, particularly in China which promotes organic Goji berry farming, particularly in Tibet and other major provinces. In addition to its various food and beverage applications, China is increasing its Goji berry exports that are found in the market as dried berries, pulp powders or juice. Resellers put a premium on organic Goji berry as an increasing number of consumers are now more prone to patronize farm produce grown without using fertilizers or pesticides.

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