Nutritional Benefits of the Goji Berry
Wolfberry, Lycium barbarum L., also known as Chinese wolfberry or goji berry is known in Asia as an extremely nutritious food. Wolfberries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 1700 years.
Macronutrients, Micronutrieents and phytochemicals:
Wolfberry contains significant percentages of a day's macronutrients needs - carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fiber. 68% of the mass of dried wolfberries exists as carbohydrate, 12% as protein, and 10% each as fiber and fat., giving a total caloric value in a 100 gram serving of 370 (kilo) calories, of which 272 come from carbohydrates, and 90 of which come from fat.
Wolfberries contain many nutrients and phytochemicals including 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals, 18 amino acids, 6 essential vitamins, 8 polysaccharides and 6 monosaccharides, 5 unsaturated fatty acids (including the essential fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid), beta-sitosterol and other phytosterols, 5 carotenoids (including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene and cryptocanthin), and numerous phenolic pigments (phenols) associated with antioxidant properties.
Select examples given below are for 100 grams of dried berries.
• Calcium. Wolfberries contain 65 mg per 100 gram serving, providing about 5-6% of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI).
• Potassium. Wolfberries contain 1,132 mg per 100 grams dried fruit, giving about 24% of the DRI.
• Iron. Wolfberries have 9 mg iron per 100 grams (100% DRI).
• Zinc. 2 mg per 100 grams dried fruit (18% DRI).
• Selenium. 100 grams of dried wolfberries contain 50 micrograms (91% DRI)
•Riboflavin (vitamin B2) At 1.3 mg, 100 grams of dried wolfberries provide 100% of DRI.
• Vitamin C. Vitamin C content in dried wolfberries has a wide range (from different sources) from 45 mg per 100 grams to as high as 100 mg per 100 grams (respectively, 50% and 110% DRI).
• Beta-carotene: 7 mg per 100 grams dried fruit.
• Zeaxanthin. Reported values for zeaxanthin content in dried wolfberries vary considerably, from 25 mg per 100 grams to 150 mg per 100 grams. The higher values would make wolfberry one of the richest edible plant sources known for zeaxanthin content. Up to 77% of total carotenoids present in wolfberry exist as zeaxanthin.
• Polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are a major constituent of wolfberries, representing up to 31% of pulp weight.
Modern Studies on Wolfberry:
1. Support healthy immune system:
· Many studies have shown wolfberry fruits increase the lymphocyte transformation rate and improve the macrophage phagocytic function in animals. LBP assists spleen lymphocyte transformation induced by Concavalin A.
· LBP also can be used to reduce lead toxicity because LBP inhibits the reduction of T cells and delayed allergy activity induced by lead.
2. Anti-aging properties:
· Wolfberry fruit functions to maintain normal cell growth and improve DNA restoration and repair. LBP also has the function of anti-peroxidation of free radicals, therefore changing the electrical parameters of cell membranes to the normal range.
· In one study in China, a 48% increase of Super Oxide Dismutase and a 12% increase of hemoglobin were found in serum for all senior participants. A 65% decrease of LPO in serum was found in the same study. This indicates wolfberry fruit may be a potent anti-oxidant, which may slow the aging process.
3. Cancer prevention:
· Other studies from China show the acetone extract from wolfberry fruit inhibits the gene mutation induced by TA98 and TA1008. Some scientists believe that wolfberry fruit may be a very good supplement to prevent liver cancer because it exerts liver protection and anticancer effects at the same time.
· Another study from China showed LBP increased the sensitivity to radiation therapy10 and enhanced the immune system for cancer patients.
· Japanese researchers reported wolfberry fruits could inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
4. Liver protection:
· One study in China discovered that the hepaprotective component (zeaxanthin dipalmitate) from wolfberry helps counteract carbon tetrachloride induced hepatotoxicity.
· Another study from China found LBP exerts hepaprotection through inhibiting the lipid peroxidation of liver cells in aging mice. LBP helps to repair liver cell injury induced by CCl4 and facilitates recovery from hepatic necrosis.
5. Hemopoiesis promoter:
· A study in China showed LBP facilitated stem cell proliferation and increased the number of monocytes in bone marrow. LBP helps the monocytes to convert to matured leukocytes.
6. Vision improvement:
· Wolfberry fruits were very popular for their vision improvement properties in ancient China. Modern Chinese scientists found wolfberry fruits reduce dark adapting time and improve vision under subdued light.
· Lutein and zeaxanthin are sister pigments. They protect the retina by neutralizing the free radicals from sunlight that may damage eye tissue. There are very few foods rich in zeaxanthin. Wolfberry is one of them. Dr. Iris Benzie, MD and her research team have done a human study using Rich Nature brand Wolfberry. The result shows that plasma zeaxanthin increased 250% after the study group took Rich Nature wolfberry 15g/day for 28 days.
· Physiologic scotoma decreased and vitamin A increased in patients after taking wolfberry fruits. Many scientists believe wolfberry contains more beta-carotene than carrots, which may attribute to this fact.
Data source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superfruit and Rich Nature Labs