Goji Berries: Health Benefits and Side Effects
Have you been wondering about the health benefits of goji berries and goji juice? Some claim that goji berries are the next fountain of youth. But what is the goji berry and can it really prevent chronic illness? And do dried goji berries have side effects? Here are answers to your questions.
What Is a Goji Berry?
The goji berry is also called the wolfberry. It is a bright orange-red berry that comes from a shrub that's native to China. In Asia, goji berries have been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer.
Over time, people have used goji berries to try and treat many common health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, and age-related eye problems. Goji berries are eaten raw, cooked, or dried (like raisins) and are used in herbal teas, juices, wines, and medicines.
What Are the Benefits of Goji Berries?
Research shows that eating berries -- like blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, strawberries, and cherries -- offer definite health benefits. It may be because berries like the goji berry are filled with powerful antioxidants and other compounds. Goji berries also have compounds rich in vitamin A.
In laboratory tests, antioxidants minimize damage from free radicals that injure cells and damage DNA. When a cell's DNA changes, the cell grows abnormally. Antioxidants can take away the destructive power of free radicals. Research is ongoing to see if this effect carries over into prevention of disease and aging.
Some studies using goji berry juice found benefits in mental well-being and calmness, athletic performance, happiness, quality of sleep, and feelings of good health. These are preliminary studies that need to be repeated before definitive conclusions can be drawn.
While goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants, it's still unclear how they stack up against other berries. Researchers also don't know whether goji berry supplements have the same health benefits as the actual berries.
Do Goji Berries Have Side Effects?
There may be some possible herb-drug interactions with goji berries. If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you may want to avoid goji berries. Goji berries may also interact with diabetes and blood pressure drugs.
When eaten in moderation, goji berries appear to be safe.
Before adding goji berries or supplements to your diet, discuss your concerns with your health care provider.