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Newsletter 08

Goji Berries - one of the highest rated foods for health and longevity in traditional chinese medicine.


n overwhelming body of research has now firmly established that the dietary intake of berry fruits has a positive and profound impact on human health, performance, and disease (1). Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, have been used for hundreds of years as both food and medicine in China and surrounding areas. In Traditional Chinese Medicine they are used to treat poor vision, anaemia, inflammation, and cough (2) as well as to support the immune system and sexual health. In recent years the therapeutic and nutritional properties of goji berries have been studied by researchers. Here’s a brief overview of what has been discovered so far about these amazing berries.

Goji Berries, Antioxidants and the Immune System Not only do goji berries have a high antioxidant score they also appear to enhance and reinforce the effectiveness of endogenous antioxidants (that is antioxidants made in the body) thus increasing the body’s ability to counteract free radical damage (3,4). This would explain the long history of goji berry use in China for supporting the immune system. One of the key antioxidants in goji berries is vitamin C. The vitamin C in goji berries has been shown to scavenge free radicals more effectively than ascorbic acid, such as that found in some supplements. Goji berries are also protective against liver injury and have anti-tumour and anti-ageing properties (5). Research suggests that goji berries may protect against skin damage caused by exposure to the sun (6).

Goji Berries, Weight and Insulin Resistance Goji berries have traditionally been used in Asia as a treatment for diabetes and other conditions due to their beneficial effects on increasing metabolic rate and energy while reducing body weight. In a recent 14 day trial goji berry intake was found to significantly increase metabolic rate and decrease waist circumference compared to the placebo group (7). The polysaccharides in goji berries have also been shown to decrease cholesterol levels and to reduce insulin levels and postprandial glucose while improving insulin sensitivity (8), thus making them a useful food for the increasing number of people with insulin resistance, often characterised by abdominal weight gain or the so called apple shaped body.

Goji Berries and Male Fertility The use of goji berries as a Traditional treatment in China for infertility and sexual dysfunction is now supported by experiments on rats which have found that the polysaccharides in goji berries appear to improve male sexual efficiency and frequency of ejaculation by modulating neurogenesis (9). Other research found that male rats exposed to radiation given goji berries experienced increased sperm quantity and motility and improved sexual ability. The goji berries also aided recovery of testosterone levels, increased antioxidant activity and reduced testicular DNA damage allowing the rats to achieve near-complete recovery (10).

Goji Berries and Brain Protection The polysaccharides in goji berries have been shown to have neuro-protective effects that can be used to protect the brains of those at high risk of having a stroke (11).

Goji Berries and Liver Toxicity The polysaccharides in goji berries can reduce liver inflammation, restore the expression of antioxidant enzymes, reduce lipid peroxidation and promote liver regeneration after exposure to toxins. (12). The researchers conclude that goji berries have great potential use as a food supplement in the prevention of liver diseases.

Goji Berries and Cancer Goji berries contain various potential anti-cancer properties that have been shown to have apoptotic and antiproliferative effects on cancer cells, particularly prostate cancer cells (13). The polysaccharides they contain also contribute to the immunomodulatory effects and enhance the effects of other cancer therapies (14)

Goji Berries and Eye Health Taking goji berries for 90 days has been shown to increase plasma levels of zeaxanthin – an important antioxidant for eye health. Plasma levels of other antioxidants also increase and there appears to be a protective effect on the macula of the eye after eating goji berries for this period of time (15) Goji berries are also rich in taurine. It is their high taurine content that is thought to help prevent diabetic retinopathy (16). Taurine is also beneficial for cardiovascular function.

A Note of Caution Goji berries are part of the Solanacea family. Those who are sensitive to other foods in this family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, chillies and aubergines) may also experience sensitivity to goji berries (17). In rare cases goji berries may cause anaphylaxis or photo-sensitivity (18). Goji berries should be avoided by those taking warfarin or similar medications (19)

How to Include Berries in your Diet Traditionally goji berries are cooked in rice dishes or soups, boiled into herbal teas or combined with grapes and made into wine. Try adding dried goji berries to muesli, salads, trail mixes, smoothies, flapjacks and curries. Soaking them plumps them up and makes them juicier but they can be eaten just as they are.


2 tbsp of hemp protein powder

Fruity Quinoa Pilaf

1 tsp almond essence

Serves 4

3 tbsp cacao powder

225g/8oz quinoa 2 tbsp goji berries 2 tbsp Inca berries 2 tbsp mulberries 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved 2 cups of rocket 3 tbsp of walnuts, toasted Freshly ground black pepper 2 tbsp chopped coriander Dressing 2 tbsp olive oil Juice of 1 lemon A dash of tamari

2 tbsp of shredded coconut Put the almonds and hazelnuts into a food processor with the S blade and process until they are finely chopped. Drain the berries and add them to the food processor along with the hemp protein powder, almond essence and cacao powder and process until you have a thick paste. Add a bit of the berry soak water if necessary. Sprinkle the shredded coconut onto a plate. Take pieces of the mixture and roll into walnut sized balls before rolling these in the coconut. These will store in an air tight container in the fridge for a week.

References Seeram NP. Berry fruits: compositional elements, biochemical activities, and the impact of their intake on human health, performance, and disease. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):627-9 Cassileth B. Lycium (Lycium barbarum). Oncology (Williston Park) 2010 Dec;24(14):1353

A dash of toasted sesame oil

Amagase H, Sun B, Borek C. Lycium barbarum (goji) juice improves in vivo antioxidant biomarkers in serum of healthy adults. Nutr Res. 2009 Jan;29(1):19-25

Rinse the quinoa and put it in a pan with 1.5 cups/350ml of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer with the lid on until all the water has been absorbed – about 15 minutes. Stir in the goji berries, Inca berries and mulberries.

Vidal K, Bucheli P, Gao Q, Moulin J, Shen LS, Wang J, Blum S, Benyacoub J. Immunomodulatory effects of dietary supplementation with a milk-based wolfberry formulation in healthy elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rejuvenation Res. 2012 Feb;15(1):89-97

Transfer the quinoa mixture to a large bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, rocket, toasted walnuts, black pepper and coriander.

Amagase H, Nance DM. Lycium barbarum increases caloric expenditure and decreases waist circumference in healthy overweight men and women: pilot study. J Am Coll Nutr. 2011 Oct;30(5):304-9

Make the dressing by combining the olive oil, lemon juice, tamari and toasted sesame oil and mixing well. Pour the dressing over the quinoa and stir to combine all the ingredients.

Zhang Z, Liu X, Zhang X, Lium J, Hao Y, Yang X, Wang Y. Comparative evaluation of the antioxidant effects of the natural vitamin C analog 2-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-L-ascorbic acid isolated from Goji berry fruit. Arch Pharm Res. 2011 May;34(5):801-10 Reeve VE, Allanson M, Arun SJ, Domanski D, Painter N. Mice drinking goji berry juice (Lycium barbarum) are protected from UV radiation-induced skin damage via antioxidant pathways. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2010 Apr;9(4):601-7

Zhao R, Li Q, Xiao B. Effect of Lycium barbarum polysaccharide on the improvement of insulin resistance in NIDDM rats. Yakugaku Zasshi 2005 Dec;125(12):981-8 Lau BW, Lee JC, Li Y, Fung SM, Sang YH, Shen J, Chang RC, So KF. Polysaccharides from wolfberry prevents corticosterone-induced inhibition of sexual behavior and increases neurogenesis. PloS One. 2012;7(4):e33374 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 Yang D, Li SY, Yeung CM, Chang RC, So KF, Wong D, Lo AC. Lycium barbarum extracts protect the brain from blood-brain barrier disruption and cerebral edema in experimental stroke. PloS One. 2012;7(3):233596

Serve hot or cold.

Xiao J, Liong EC, Ching YP, Chang RC, So KF, Fung ML, Tipoe GL. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides protect mice liver from carbon tetrachloride-induced oxidative stress and necroinflammation. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012 Jan 31;139(2):462-70

Chocolate Berry Truffles

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

1 cup of almonds, lightly toasted ½ cup of hazelnuts, lightly toasted ½ cup dried mulberries, soaked for a couple of hours ½ cup of dried Inca berries, soaked for a couple of hours ½ cup of dried goji berries, soaked for a couple of hours

Tang WM, Chan E, Kwok CY, Lee YK, Wu JH et al. A review of the anticancer and immunomodulatory effects of Lycium barbarum fruit. Inflammopharmacology. 2011 Dec 22 Bucheli P, Vidal K, Shen L, Gu Z, Zhang C, Miller LE, Wang J. Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci. 2011 Feb;88(2):257-62 Song MK, Roufogalis BD, Huang TH. Reversal of the Caspase-Dependent Apoptotic Cytotoxicity Pathway by Taurine from Lycium barbarum (Goji Berry) in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells: Potential Benefit in Diabetic Retinopathy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:323784 Monzon Ballarin S, Lopez-Matas MA, Saenz Abad D, Perez-Cinto N, Carnes J. Anaphylaxis associated with the ingestion of Goji berries (Lycium barbarum). J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol. 2011;21(7):567-70 Gomez-Bernal S, Rodriguez-Pazos L, Martinez FJ, et al. Systemic photosensitivity due to Goji berries. Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2011 Oct;27(5):245-7 Rivera CA, Ferro CL, Bursua AJ, Gerber BS. Probable Interaction Between Lycium barbarum (Goji) and Warfarin. Pharmacotherapy 2012 Jan 31

Writtten by Josie Cowgill Newsletter Design, Photography & Front Cover text by New Gaia Designs Copyright © 2012 BonPom Ltd. The contents of this newsletter remain the property of BonPom Ltd and may not be reproduced wholey or in part without the express permission of BonPom Ltd.

BonPom Newsletter 8 - Goji Berries  
BonPom Newsletter 8 - Goji Berries  

A deeper look at the benefits and uses of Goji Berries.