Goji Berries - Are they as beneficial as people claim?
If you haven't heard of Goji Berries (also known as wolfberries), then, as the saying goes, you must have had your head buried under a very large rock for the last few years.
Credited with many health-giving benefits, the humble Goji berry has become the foundation for a veritable industry in Asia, where most of the modern, cultivated crop is grown. Not a million miles from its indigenous roots in Western Asia / South-Eastern Europe, this recent cultivation has made Goji not only available, but highly popular as an ingredient in everything from "healthy" snacks to countless juices and extracts.
Resembling, if anything, it's cousin the cherry tomato more than a traditional berry, the Goji is also a distant relation to other, more familiar foods including the chilli pepper, eggplant, potato and even tobacco. However, as distinguished as its family tree might be, you could say that the Goji berry was the "favourite neice" of the family, blessed as it is with not only the blushing good looks of the ripe cherry tomato, but with nutrient qualities to challenge just about any other fruit or vegetable.
Not only are Goji berries high in powerful antioxidants and essential fats, they are also packed with dozens of vitamins, minerals and amino acids that make them one of THE best ingredients of any health-conscious diet.
Goji Berries - Nutritional Components
Vitamins - A rich source of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) and Vitamin C, and also contain Vitamins B1, B6 and E
Minerals - no less than 11 Essential minerals and 21 trace minerals, with particularly high (and beneficial) levels of the trace minerals selenium and Germanium as well as Zinc, Iron, Calcium and Potassium.
Amino Acids - The building blocks of proteins - 18 in total, including 8 essential amino acids (ones the body can't make for itself).
Fats - great source of essential fatty acids, including the omega-3 fats linoleic and alpha-linoleic acids, which are thought to be beneficial in preventing heart disease.
Fibre - A high proportion of the carbohydrate component is fibre, helping reduce its glycemic index. In addition, the sugars present include beneficial polysaccharides, which are believed to improve antioxidant function.
Antioxidants - Perhaps the best-known benefit of goji berries is their antioxident content, which includes high levels of beta-carotene (a great source of Vitamin A), lutein and several of the xanthyn antioxidants.
All this means that it is little surprise that the Goji has been seen as an important contributor to good health for hundreds, or even thousands of years. Often used in its cooked or dried form, it has also been used to make everything from beers and wines to traditional medicines.
One of the key points of the nutritional value of Goji Berries is their sheer number of beneficial compounds they contain and especially the number of "Essential" nutrients. In case you have forgotten, these are nutrients that the body can't make from other ingredients and that MUST therefore be in the diet. As a condequence, it is easy to become deficient in these essential nutrients and care should be taken to make sure they are included in any healthy diet.
As with other superfoods, and especially whole food ingredients, another key point is that the balance established in nature contributes to the best possible absorption of those lovely nutrients, which all help each other get into your system and able to contribute to your overall health - unlike many synthetic vitamins and minerals, which may be poorly absorbed at best.
By themselves, Goji Berries are a powerhouse of nutrition, but as an ingredient in a whole-food blend of superfoods such as Kakadu, they are truly World Class.
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