What kind of foods do you think of when you hear super foods? Berries right? They’re tasty and bring with them a host of health benefits. And when applied, every single berry brings its own set of skin benefits. You probably know how Marilyn Monroe rubbed strawberries on her face but there’s a new berry on the block: Goji berry.
Recently, goji berry has gained attention as a superfood because of its manyfold beneficial properties. And so it’s popping up in your smoothie and juice store, in your morning cereals, and of course beauty products. So why is everyone obsessed with it? To put it simply, they’re packed with an almost never-ending list of essential amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
A little bit of background
There are many legends surrounding the goji berry. A famous one is that the Chinese herbalist Li Ching-Yuen sold goji berries and lived on a diet of Chinese herbs including ginseng, lingzhi, and the very goji berries. This herbalist was famous for his longevity: it was claimed that he lived to the age of 256 years! Take this with a pinch of salt though.
Another legend has it that many many moons ago, a doctor found a group of people who lived extraordinaryly long lives. When he investigated where this group of people lived, he found that goji berries surrounded wells that they used. Then he saw how the ripe berries fell into these wells and that the people would drink this water and a new legend was borne.
The goji berries are harvested from 2 very closely related plants Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum. These plants belong to the boxthorn, Solanaceae family. This means they’re related to potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, chili peppers, and tobacco.
The goji also goes by the name of wolfberry, fructus lycii and gougi (Chinese 枸杞). It grows in China, Mongolia, and the Tibetan Himalayas. Lycium chinense grows in the south and Lycium barbarum in the north of China.
The goji plant is a shrub with edible leaves. They look a bit like eggs, with round tips. The flowers can be purple or white and bloom from June to September. The fruits ripen from July to October. The berries spoil easily, so they often dried for better conservation.
It’s probably not news to you: Traditional Chinese Medicine has used the goji berry for more than 2000 years. It was thought it promotes overall good health and was used to treat a range of ailments. It was said it aids in longevity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners prescribe it to enhance liver and kidney function. And when you listen to a Chinese grandma, you need to eat it because it’s good for the eyes. In TCM, the eyes are part of the kidney and liver system.
In Ayurveda, the Indian Traditional Medicine, the goji berry has also been used for thousands of years. In this system, it is prescribed to help support energy, vision, sleep, kidney and liver function.
Characteristics and properties
At first glance, you might mistake the goji berry for a really tiny cherry tomato or an oversized red raisin. It has a distinctive bright orange-red colour.
With a sweet and slightly tart taste, it can be eaten raw or consumed as a juice or herbal tea. It can also be dried just like raisin and then included in snacks or used as powder and supplements.
Goji berries have earned the moniker “super food” because they’re an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. They also have high levels of fibre and amino acids.
The minerals in goji berries are essential to your diet and increase overall health. They contain 11 of the 22 essential dietary trace minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and selenium.
Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins. They are important for faster wound repair and healthy tissue in muscles, bones, skin, and hair.
These substances help to protect our cells against oxidative damage caused by free radicals, which have been linked to serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer, and also contribute to the ageing process.
Goji berry have a beautiful orange-red colour. The colour come from carotenoids which are fat-soluble pigments. The carotenoids found are beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lycopene, and zeaxanthin among others. They are a vitamin A precursor and your body converts them into vitamin A. They are also a very potent antioxidant. This kind of substance protects the cells in your body from free radicals that can destroy cellular membranes and DNA within the cell.
As a good source of vitamin C, the goji berry gives your immune system a boost. Vitamin C is important for your body. It needs it to form blood vessels, muscles, and collagen. In short, it’s critical for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. And, it’s also an antioxidant, linked to bossing antioxidant levels.
In short, goji berries help (according to findings of the scientific community)
Why the goji berry is good for your skin
What is good for you inside is also good for you outside, right? The same nutrients that improve your overall health are also good for your skin. It’s a rich source of antioxidants that help reduce wrinkles. The vitamins C, E, B1, B2, and B6 work together to improve your overall skin health helped by copper, selenium, and zinc.
Carotenoids are a precursor of vitamin A. So, the goji berry enhances skin cell turnover. It helps even out skin and heal previous sun damage. And, as antioxidants, they help ward off damage caused by free radicals and reduce inflammation.
Vitamin C is almost always included in products that promise glowing and youthful complexion. For one, it’s needed when your body produces collagen. This protein is the scaffold that gives your skin structure and firmness. Secondly, it helps evens out skin tone.
Zinc helps your body in the fight against bacteria and other microbes. It also reduces inflammation, speeds up wound healing, and regulates oil production in the skin.
Amino acids are the building blocks for collagen and elastin and other proteins. In essence, when more of both of these proteins are found in your skin, you have a more youthful complexion, less fine lines and wrinkles.
The goji berry contains a special kind polysaccharides (complex carbs) unique to it. It’s a specific antioxidant called Lycium barbarum polysaccharides and they are linked to a host of impressive health benefits. If you use it on your skin, it’ll increase hydration like hyaluronic acid – another complex carb. But it’ll also firm and tighten your skin.
To recap, goji berries
- Offer sun protection
- Are antioxidant
- Lower inflammation
- Hydrate your skin
- Boost collagen (and other protein) production
- Even out skin tone and lift dark spots
- Help your skin repair itself and increases firmness
As you see, the goji berry is a pretty powerful skin miracle worker for your skin and it works on several levels.
It has also made its way into all kinds of products, from toners, serums, and oils, to moisturisers and SPF.
There are many ways to add this healthy berry to your diet. You can
- Add it to your cereal like adding raisins
- Soak it for 10 minutes and Add it to your juice or smoothie
- Add it to your soups
- Brew it into a tea