Goji berry is the common name for 2 species of plants that look alike, Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense. The Mandarin name is Gou qi zi, and it is called kechi in Bahasa Indonesia. Both of them are members of Solanaceae family, which also includes potato, tomato, eggplants, and tobacco. Goji berry from China looks like cherry tomatoes, and tastes sweet.
This plant is being developed in China in massive quantity, especially in Ningxia area, where the berries are harvested from July to September. But it also can be found in other countries, such as Japan, Vietnam, England, Thailand, Tibet, USA, and India. Goji berry from Ningxia is known to have the highest antioxidants compared with goji berries from other areas.
Goji berry fruits are usually dried to be used as food additives. In China, dried goji berries are often eaten with tonic soup together with other ingredients, like meat, vegetables, liquorice, and other ingredients. Goji berry can also be used in herbal tea with chrisanthemum. Chinese people already recognized health benefits of goji berry tea since 2000 years ago, thus it is already used as traditional medicine in China. In USA and Europe, goji berry is used to make juice, herbal tea, and dried fruits like raisins (sprinkled in salads or porridge, as additive in cakes, etc).
Goji berry is included in Super Food list, along with ginseng roots and Ling Zhi mushrooms. Goji berry helps increasing economic development of China, as it is one of the main export to USA and Europe. In 2004, there is a trend of drinking goji berry juice as healthy beverages, and it was marketed through internet with advertisements about huge health benefits of consuming goji berry juice: stay young, increase immunity, kick heart problems away, curing fatigue, etc.
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Goji Berry Nutritional Facts
Goji berry is an important source of macronutrients needed by our body, including carbohydrates (68%), proteins (12%), healthy fats and fibers (10%), and it also has low glycemic index. Every 100 grams of dried berries contain 370 Kcal. Compared with macronitrient contents of other foods, goji berry has the most complete nutrients. Soya beans (173 Kcal /100 g) which is known to have complete macronutrients are still less than macronutrients of goji berry. Blueberry has high antioxidants, but the macronutrients are not as high as goji berry.
Goji berry’s seeds also have many benefits, containing polyunsaturated fats like linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega -3). Moreover, goji berry contains calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, riboflavin, vitamin C and high antioxidants.
Goji berry also contains 4 polysaccharides which can increase immunity, anti-cancer, and protect the heart. The amino acid contents increase the production of growth hormon from pituitary gland. As a result, that’s why there are many health benefits of goji berry tea.
1. Boosts Immune System
Immune system in human body is created by polysaccharides (glycoproteins). Immune system consists of proteins that need “good sugar” (white sugar/bad sugar reduces immune system in human but “good sugar” boosts immune system). Goji berry produces good sugar substance, the fructose. So, by consuming goji berry tea regularly, we can boost our immune system, and add energy at the same time.
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2. Protects from Heart Disease
Stress, high blood pressure, inflammation, high blood sugar, and high protein reactions are the main causes of heart diseases. Goji berry can reduce triglycerides and cholesterol until 80%, reduce inflammatory factors, delay oxydative destruction of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol, preventing it to get oxydised and bind into blood vessel), lower blood pressure, lower blood viscosity, and can react like warfarin and aspirin (dillutes blood). So, consuming goji berry tea has the health benefits of helping us away from heart problems.
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3. Protects from Cancer
Goji berry has been known to protect DNA in our cells, so goji berry can fight cancers and early aging by:
- Maximizing neutralization of toxins in liver
- Boosting immune system (polysaccharides properties which are known to boost immune system can kill mutating cells or cancers)
- Protecting our body cells from DNA damage and DNA mutation caused by free radicals, which later can cause cancers.
By then, you can drink goji berry tea one time a day in the morning. To make goji berry tea, just boil goji berry by the boiled water and you can add it with honey and lemon to get extra goji berry benefits.
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4. Hepatoprotective Activity
Goji berry has been known to restore glutathione in our body. One of believed predictions of long-life expectancy is the health of the liver. The most numerous glutathione contents is in the liver than other organ, related to the role of liver to detoxify free radicals in our body. As a high source of antioxidants, goji berry has health benefits of hepatoprotective activity by restoring glutathione level, even during healing process of hepatitis.
5. Improves Eyesight
Goji berry contains Lutein and Zeaxathine, 2 important substances for our eyesight. With the mix of minerals and carotenoid, goji berry from Ningxia gives significant protection of eyesight caused by aging. A research was held on diabetic mice which is given 1 gram goji berry fruit everyday for 2 weeks, and those mice experienced lower lipid peroxides in their retina as much as 20%, and their SOD antioxidant level increased more than 80%.
6. Treatment of Diabetes
As we already know, consuming healthy foods can influence the management of blood sugar lebel and our overall health than insulin and drugs for lowering blood sugar, such as sulfonylureas. A recent research has shown that goji berry has bioactive components which can lower blood sugar, so consuming goji berry tea has the health benefits of lowering complication risks caused by diabetes. Moreover, goji berry has very low glycemix index, so it is very safe to be consumed by diabetic patients. But we have to note that for diabetic patient, they still have to consume prescribed medicines and control their blood sugar regularly. In this case, goji berry is only food supplement.
7. Enhances Stamina
Dried goji berries can also made into juice. Soak the dried berries in mineral water overnight in refrigerator, process them in blender, strain it, and we have a delicious healthy juice. This way, we can get health benefits of goji berry directly, it increases energy and eliminates fatigue in no time. This beverage is ideal to consume after workouts or after long day in the office.
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8. Prevents Anemia
Goji berry tea has health benefits of preventing anemia, due to iron contents in the fruit. As we know, anemia can result in fatigue, unproductive life, and even heart disease.
See also: Health Benefits of Iron
Other Uses of Goji Berry
Meanwhile, here are more health benefits of goji berry tea that you need to know.
9. Food Additives
Dried goji berries can be cooked in soup and other dishes, by adding 1 teaspoon of dried goji berries for 1 portion of chicken soup (we can add more if we want to), with some pieces of angcho (Chinese red dates). Dried goji berries is also delicious to eat as healthy snack (mixed with raisins and walnuts). It is also used to sweeten youghurt, by sprinkling dried goji berry which are already soaked in hot water. We can also sprinkle dried goji berry on salads, or mix it in cake or brownies batter.
10. The Sources of Vitamins and Minerals – such as protein, fiber, fat, carbohydrate, and more.
11. Treats Cold and Flu – Health benefits of goji berry tea is to treat cold and flu.
12. Rich of Anti-Oxidant – Gojji berry contains the high source of anti oxidant.
13. Weight Loss Treatment – Goji berry may be your best alternative for weight loss treatment.
14. Overall Health Treatment – You can trust it that goji berry works to maintain your health.
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Goji Berry in Chinese Traditional Medicine
Goji berry tea has so many health benefits. Chinese traditional medicine use this fruit to cure inflammation and various skin diseases. The polysaccharides show antioxidant activity in vitro. Some researches in China shows health benefits of goji berry, especially as antioxidants for curing cardiovascular diseases, eyesight problems related to aging process (such as glaucoma), cancers, and as immunomodulator. However, not even one of these research is verifed scientifically in Western Medicine, nor confirmed as clinical research, nor recognized by authorities.
If we look closely at Chinese medicinal herbs, each herbs usually has goji berry among other herbs which are weighed carefully. In Chinese traditional herbal medicine, goji berry has important roles as:
- Energy: neutral
- Taste: sweet
- Affinity: liver, lungs and kidneys, toughen blood
- Usually used for: treatment of anemia, dy eyes, nausea, blurred vision, light sensitivity, night blindness, poor eyesight, impotency, night emmision, tuberculosis, backache, knee-ache, footache.
- Herbs dosage: 6-18 grams of dried goji berries boiled with 1 glass of water until boiling, or 5-15 grams of dried goji berries infused with hot water for 10 minutes and drink as tea atleast a half of cup everyday.
- Cautions: In Chinese traditional medicine, goji berry is not advised for tratment of fever or diarrhea.
Usage as Herbal Tea in Indonesia
Goji berries are mostly marketed in the form of dried fruits, and in Indonesia it can be purchased in many chinese herbs stores or supermarkets, usually found in 500 grams packages with the name “wolfberries”.
In Indonesia, especially among Chinese-peranakan people, goji berry is used for herbal tea: 1 full teaspoon of dried goji berries is boiled with 5 pieces of angcho (red chinese dates) with a glass of water until boiling. The herbal tea is used for treatment of anemia, increasing energy, and improving eyesight.
Side Effects of Goji Berry Tea
The most known side effect of goji berry tea is escalation of hemorrhage, this is why goji berry is not used for treatment of any hemorrhage, including hemorrhagic fever and post-partum hemorrhage. This fruit is also known to interact with many prescribed medicine, especially blood-dilluting medicines such as warfarin and aspirin, by inhibiting the metabolism of those drugs.
The negative reaction of goji berry is very rare. But goji berry has not been researched well in pregnancy, so it is advised to avoid goji berry during pregnancies or breastfeeding. We must consult with our doctor first before taking goji berry for any reason.
Nowadays, we can find dried goji berries in any Asian or Chinese supermarkets worldwide, we also can purchase them online. Moreover, we can purchase the ready-to-drink goji berry juice in any healthy food stores or online shops. Dried goji berries are not expensive, and we can prepare the tea easily at home. Since we already know the health benefits of goji berry tea, we should try to consume it, to have healthy body.
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