Goji Berry Benefits for Age-Related Vision Loss – and More

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Adding a small helping of goji berries to your daily diet might be enough to protect your peepers as you age, a new study finds.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, found that a small daily serving of dried goji berries can help stop or at least delay the development of age-related macular degeneration, a sight-stealing disease that impacts 11 million Americans.

People diagnosed with AMD suffer damage to their central field of vision and may have difficulty reading or recognizing faces.

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In the study, participants between the ages of 45 and 65 who ate a handful of goji berries — about 1 ounce — five times a week for three months had a higher density of protective pigments in their eyes.

On the other hand, participants who consumed a commercial supplement intended to boost eye health did not show any increase in the protective pigments.

The protective pigments in question — lutein and zeaxanthin — are known to filter out harmful blue light and provide antioxidant protection. They have been referred to as “sunscreen for your eyes.”

More goji berry benefits to note 

The health benefits of consuming goji berries have been well-known for a long time. In fact, they have been used for millennia in traditional Chinese medicine.

In more recent times, numerous scientific studies have found evidence to support the link between consumption of goji berries and improved health.

“Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, along with fiber and iron,” says Emmaline Rasmussen, a registered dietitian and integrative health expert. “In particular, they boast vitamin c, zeaxanthin and carotenoids.”

Such nutrients can improve the health of your eyes, skin and immune system. “Antioxidants can even help with exercise recovery,” she says.

Most fruits contain little iron, but goji berries contain around 2 milligrams per ounce, “making them the richest fruit source of iron and a great snack for those following plant-based diets, which are typically lower in iron,” Rasmussen says.

Other potential health benefits have been associated with goji berries, although more research is needed before concluding that the berries can improve health in these areas. Early research suggests goji berries may contribute to:

The ability to fight cancer. Research on mice suggests goji berries might both slow tumor growth and make cancer treatments more effective.

Stabilization of blood sugar. One study found that goji berries might help control the release of sugar into the blood.

Improved mental health. A study found links between eating goji berries and reduced depression and anxiety levels. Separate research links consumption of the berries to improved energy and mood.

How to eat goji berries

Goji berries have a sweet but tart taste that has been described as similar to a sour cherry. Rasmussen says adding a handful of goji berries to your diet is relatively easy for just about everyone.

Goji berries are commonly available in dried form, which makes them a convenient source of nutrition when you are on-the-go, she adds.

“My favorite way to enjoy goji berries is by adding them to homemade trail mix along with raw walnuts and almonds,” she says.

Rasmussen also suggests alternative ways to get your goji berries, including adding them to:

When you shop for goji berries, make sure you are making the right choices, Rasmussen says.

“It is important to buy certified organic goji berries, and third-party-tested if possible,” she says. Doing so helps to make sure your goji berries are not contaminated with herbicides, fungicides and pesticides.

Before consuming goji berries, note that the National Institutes of Health has warned that there is not enough reliable information to know if goji berries are safe for those who are pregnant or breast-feeding. In addition, it is possible that goji fruit might cause the uterus to contract.

Therefore, the NIH urges you to “stay on the safe side and avoid use” when pregnant or breastfeeding.

In addition, you may have an allergic reaction to goji berries if you also have allergies to tobacco, peaches, tomatoes and nuts, the NIH says.

These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.

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