Goji Berries: The Anti-Aging Wonder Food

Copyright 2006 Sylvia Riley

Goji berries are one of the most nutritionally dense foods on earth and house a staggering concentration of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, phytochemicals and essential fatty acids. Originating in Tibet and greatly favoured in traditional medicine, these scarlet berries have a mild sweet flavour mid that of a cherry and a cranberry. Aside their many noted health benefits (from boosting immunity, lowering cholesterol, and enhancing vision to fighting cancer cells, relieving depression and aiding weight loss) goji berries are touted anti-aging marvels and are one Hollywood’s hottest new foods. One look at their awesome constitution and it’s easy to see why.

Goji berries contain a remarkable amount of vitamin C, 500 times more than oranges by weight, making them the second richest source on the planet after the camu camu berry. They are also the most abundant source of carotenoids on earth, containing more beta-carotene than carrots making them a superb source of vitamin A.

In addition, this mighty fruit contains B vitamins (B1, B2 and B6), vitamin E and 21 minerals and trace minerals including zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, copper, germanium and selenium. They also house a wide range of amino acids (18) which include all the 8 essentials as well as efficacious polysaccharides that excel at strengthening the immune system. One such polysaccharide stimulates the secretion of the rejuvenating human growth hormone by the pituitary gland.

The most well documented case of longevity is that of Li Qing Yuen, who lived to the age of 252. Born in 1678, he is said to have given a lecture at the age of 200 at the University of Beijing, and had married 14 times with 11 generations of posterity before his death in 1930. Li Qing Yuen reportedly consumed goji berries daily.

A study cited in Dr. Mindell’s book ‘Goji: The Himalayan Health Secret’, observed that 67 per cent of elderly people that were given a daily dose of the berries for 3 weeks experienced dramatic immune system enhancement (T cell transformation functions tripled and the activity of interleukin-2 doubled). Further more, the spirit and optimism of all significantly increased, appetite improved in 95 per cent of the patients, 95 per cent slept better, and 35 per cent partially recovered their sexual function.

Goji berries are one of the highest antioxidant foods on the planet, with an ORAC score (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity – a measurement used by the US Department of Agriculture for total antioxidant capacity) of 18,500, way above other fruits and veggies (blueberries, for example, having 2,200 ORAC units). Antioxidants are known for their anti-aging and disease-fighting properties by subjugating the attack of hazardous free radicals in the body.

Superoxide is one such free radical implicated in the onset and progression of aging and disease, and is neutralized by the antioxidant enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD). As we age our bodies production of this important antioxidant declines, yet goji berries have been shown to greatly increase it’s presence in the body.

Dr. Richard Cutler, a biophysicist at the National Institute of Aging has shown that the life span of many mammalian species, including man were found to be directly proportional to the amount or SOD contained in the cells. The animals with the longest life spans were found to have the highest levels of SOD. SOD acts as a cellular anti-oxidant, protecting against radiation and chemical free-radicals from pollution, as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory agent and preventing cellular damage following heart attacks.

The polysaccharides in this fruit are powerful immune-boosting agents which also contribute to the anti-aging virtues of this auspicious berry.