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[Uberfood] Goji Berries — The Unheralded, Do-It-All, Performance-Enhancing Powerberries

[Uberfood] Goji Berries -- The Unheralded, Do-It-All, Performance-Enhancing Powerberries

My newest insatiable obsession is with a berry you’ve likely never had, or for that matter, even heard of — the unheralded goji berry. 

Goji berries (aka wolfberries or lycium barbarum) — oblong, atomic red-orange, nutritional bombs; native to China — are the Justin Timberlakes of the food world; do-it-all, nutrient-engorged powerhouses that are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fiber, and even vegan-friendly protein.

Taste-wise they’re piquant and substantial, with a sweet top-note that crescendos into a slightly bitter aftertaste; undercut by a dense, gummy consistency.

As a colorful, explosive flavor-booster, they’re perfect for oatmeal, Greek yogurt, trail mix, salads, granola, protein smoothies, or green tea. They’re even a fun add-on to AB&J (almond butter & jelly), as a way of replacing some of the sugar in jelly.

[Uberfood] Goji Berries -- The Unheralded, Do-It-All, Performance-Enhancing PowerberriesMy almond butter-goji-strawberry sandwich.

Goji Berries — Nutritional Info.


[Uberfood] Goji Berries -- The Unheralded, Do-It-All, Performance-Enhancing Powerberries

Goji berries might appear small and shriveled in stature, but they’re absolutely stacked from a nutritional PoV.

In one randomized, double-blind study, goji-guzzling participants reported enhanced feelings of general well-being; improved energy, athletic performance, sleep quality, focus & mental acuity, calmness, and feelings of health, contentment, and happiness. Performance-wise, they significantly reduced fatigue and stress and even improved regularity of gastrointestinal function.1

That’s a lot stuffed into a petite package. A 100-calorie serving provides the following:

  • Protein — 4g of vegan-friendly protein, complete with 18 amino acids and all 8 essential amino acids; a rarity for plant-based protein sources. 
  • Fiber & Immunity-Boosting Polysaccharides — goji is loaded with immunity-boosting polysaccharides (long-chain sugar molecules) which provide 3g of fiber per serving — perfect for hunger control and gut health.
  • Vitamins & Minerals — on an ounce-by-ounce basis, goji contains more beta-carotene than carrots, iron than spinach, and vitamin C than oranges, including 140% DV of vitamin A per 100 calories.
  • Powerful Antioxidant — goji berries are extremely antioxidant-rich, even moreso than blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries.2 They’re one of the top sources of carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lutein, and beta-carotene, which are found in their red/orange pigments. All 3 are critical for healthy immunity and vision.3

 

Goji Berries — Potential Health Benefits.


Stellar nutritional profile notwithstanding, available research suggests that Goji berries may also pack the following benefits:

Vision Support — As mentioned before, goji berries are extremely rich in zeaxanthin and lutein, carotenoids that may help improve vision, reinforce retinal cells, reduce oxidative damage, and prevent age-related macular degeneration.45

Anti-Carcinogenic — Studies have shown that goji berries may inhibit the growth of various types of cancer cells and tumors — including breast and prostate — by promoting cancer cell suicide (apoptosis), and their propensity to make tumors more susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation.67891011

Enhanced Endurance — Goji’s sugar-to-protein ratio and electrolyte profile (potassium, sodium) make it an ideal training snack before, during, or after intense workouts. Animal studies show they may be an effective way to boost cardiovasular/muscular endurance.121314

Sexual Tonic & Libido Booster — In traditional Asian medicine, goji was used as a sexual cure-all to boost HGH (growth hormone) and longevity. Studies suggest that goji berries enhance sexual health and may be anti-estogenic, which can promote higher testosterone levels.15161718

 

Where To Buy Goji.


[Uberfood] Goji Berries -- The Unheralded, Do-It-All, Performance-Enhancing Powerberries

Amazon, Navitas Naturals Goji Berries — 16 oz., $17.59 (that’s $1.10/oz.)

Goji berries are available at Whole Foods or any other health-centric grocery stores, sold dried in pouches. Conveniently, they’re also available in bulk on Amazon, which tends to be significantly cheaper ($1.10/oz. as compared with $1.80+/oz.). I personally use and recommend Navitas Naturals.

Please keep in mind that goji berries are NOT magical beans that’ll mystically transform your body into a majestic specimen, and that the majority of studies are inconclusive (they’re conducted on animals and/or small sample sizes).

They’re a delicious, nutrient-dense snack and/or garnish, that — in my opinion – noticeably enhance mental acuity, energy levels, and sexual health (I’ll let your mind wander).



 

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References, Notes, Links

  1. Amagase H, Nance DM. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the general effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum (Goji) Juice, GoChi. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 May;14(4):403-12. []
  2. http://www.nutritionj.com/content/supplementary/1475-2891-9-3-s1.pdf []
  3. Cheng, Chung Yuen; Chung, Wai Yuen; Szeto, Yim Tong; Benzie, Iris F. F. Fasting plasma zeaxanthin response to Fructus barbarum L. (wolfberry; Kei Tze) in a food-based human supplementation trial. British Journal of Nutrition. 93(1):123-130, January 2005. []
  4. Ni T, Wei G, Yin X, Liu X, Liu D. Neuroprotective effect of Lycium barbarum on retina of Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) rats: a preliminary study. Folia Neuropathol. 2013;51(2):158-63. []
  5. Kansas State University (2010, April 1). Chinese wolfberries may improve vision imperfections caused by type-2 diabetes. ScienceDaily. []
  6. Li G, Sepkovic DW, Bradlow HL, Telang NT, Wong GY. Lycium barbarum inhibits growth of estrogen receptor positive human breast cancer cells by favorably altering estradiol metabolism. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(3):408-14. []
  7. Luo Q, Li Z, Yan J, Zhu F, Xu RJ, Cai YZ. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides induce apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells and inhibits prostate cancer growth in a xenograft mouse model of human prostate cancer. J Med Food. 2009 Aug;12(4):695-703. []
  8. Ergo-Log – Goji Berries Are Anti-Estrogenic []
  9. Ergo-Log – Goji Inhibits Prostate Cancer in Animal Study []
  10. He YL, Ying Y, Xu YL, Su JF, Luo H, Wang HF. Effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on tumor microenvironment T-lymphocyte subsets and dendritic cells in H22-bearing mice. Guangzhou University of Traditional Chinese Medicine. []
  11. Zhang M, Chen H, Huang J, Li Z, Zhu C, Zhang S. Effect of lycium barbarum polysaccharide on human hepatoma QGY7703 cells: inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis. Life Sci. 2005 Mar 18;76(18):2115-24. []
  12. Shao JiPing. Effect of aqueous extract of Lycium barbarum on serum CK, CK-MB activities and myocardium injury in exhausted swimming rats. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(14), pp. 3335-3337, 18 July, 2011 []
  13. Li-qin Yao and Feng-lin Li. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides ameliorates physical fatigue. African Journal of Agricultural Research Vol. 5(16), pp. 2153-2157, 18 August, 2010 []
  14. Shan X, Zhou J, Ma T, Chai Q. Lycium barbarum Polysaccharides Reduce Exercise-Induced Oxidative Stress. Int J Mol Sci. 2011 Feb 9;12(2):1081-8. []
  15. Li G, Sepkovic DW, Bradlow HL, Telang NT, Wong GY. Lycium barbarum inhibits growth of estrogen receptor positive human breast cancer cells by favorably altering estradiol metabolism. Nutr Cancer. 2009;61(3):408-14. []
  16. Ergo-Log – Goji Berries Are Anti-Estrogenic []
  17. Luo Q, Cui X, Yan J, Yang M, Liu J, Jiang Y, Li J, Zhou Y. Antagonistic effects of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides on the impaired reproductive system of male rats induced by local subchronic exposure to 60Co-γ irradiation. Phytother Res. 2011 May;25(5):694-701. []
  18. Xin YF, You ZQ, Gao HY, Zhou GL, Chen YX, Yu J, Xuan YX. Protective effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides against doxorubicin-induced testicular toxicity in rats. Phytother Res. 2012 May;26(5):716-21 []

 

Bryan DiSanto

Bryan DiSanto

Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Lean It UP
ELLO ELLO I'm Bryan DiSanto. I'm the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of Lean It UP, a CPT/CSN/Fitness Coach, Chef trained at Le Cordon Bleu – Paris, NYU graduate, ex-fat kid, and all-around fitness junkie.

I also contribute to Men's Health Magazine.

When I'm not working on my abs (or somebody else’s), whipping up avocado roses and avocado toast, or running a Tough Mudder, I'm probably yelling at a Carolina Panthers game somewhere.

Come be friends with me on Snapchat (BRYDISANTO).
Bryan DiSanto