Losing weight is something that everyone has tried at some point in their lives. We desire to lose weight primarily to look good. This increases our self-esteem and helps us feel good about ourselves. Weight loss is also critical for health reasons. Obese people are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. Many people hope there is a short-term fix or a ‘magic potion’ that can quickly get rid of all undesirable and unwanted fat. A total lifestyle change that includes eating healthy sizeable portions of food and some form of physical activity is what is needed to lose weight and keep it off permanently. Including healthy foods with are nutrient-rich in our diets is essential. These foods ensure we are able to reduce weight and at the same time not lose out on nutrients. Markets are flooded with many weight loss foods and supplements. Marketers tout various claims about these products. When selecting a product, make sure you collect as much information about it for there are many manufacturers who sell these products based on fraudulent claims.
Goji berries are found predominantly in the Himalayan regions of Tibet and Nepal, north and south China. These berries also called Lycium barbarum or wolfberries are bright red and resemble a raisin when dried. They have a slightly sweet-and-sour taste that is often said to be a cross between a raisin, cherry and cranberry.
Goji berries have been used for centuries in these countries as a food and natural medicine to treat a variety of health problems. In fact, people in these regions are said to live longer since they consume these berries. The therapeutic and nutritional benefits of goji berries have only recently been understood in the western world.
Goji berries have abundant quantities of beta-carotene, vitamin C, iron, protein, 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals like iron, calcium, phosphorous, selenium, zinc and copper, vitamin B1, B6 and B2 and high levels of polysaccharides.
Goji Berry for Weight Loss
The main reason that people gain weight is that they cannot control their appetite and indulge in their cravings for starchy, sugary foods. The other reason is a lack of exercise. Both these areas can be targeted by including goji berries in our diet.
Goji berries contain a low glycemic index. Usually in a food rating chart, foods that have a rating of 70 or more are considered high glycemic index foods and those below 55 gave a low glycemic index. Foods with a low GI are said to satisfy hunger quickly and reduce food cravings. When compared to other fruits like apples, oranges, bananas, watermelons, raisins and cantaloupes, goji berries have the lowest glycemic index of 29. Hence, consuming goji berries reduces our cravings for starchy and sugary foods that increase weight.
21% of goji berries are made up of fiber content. All high fiber foods control blood sugar levels and appetite. They help us feel full for longer periods and this reduces our food intake. Goji berries also contain chromium which helps control blood sugar, maintain lean muscle mass when we lose weight and help the body burn fat faster. Weight gain is prevented since muscles can burn calories more efficiently than fat. Consuming goji berries also helps with efficient metabolism.
Food that we eat must be converted to energy. Otherwise they will be converted to fat and cause weight gain. Goji berries are rich in nutrients that are converted to energy like:
- Calcium which lowers fat and promotes strong bones
- Thiamin – vitamin B1 which is plentiful in goji berries can efficiently convert carbohydrates to energy. Thiamin also helps the thyroid gland function better. Thyroid problems are one cause of weight gain.
- A balanced combination of minerals which promote good protein metabolism.
Potassium and amino acids found in goji berries help the body to produce more growth hormones. This is especially beneficial to older people whose supplies of growth hormones are dwindling. Having sufficient growth hormones helps lean body mass burn food into energy and fuel and prevents excess storage of calories in the form of fat.
Goji berries can alleviate stress levels. When we are stressed, there is an increased desire for high-fat calorie-rich foods. Stress also prevents burning of fat and secretion of growth hormone. Goji berry is an adaptogen than reduces stress levels and lowers cortisol levels which promote weight gain.
Adaptogen also helps the body exercise more by reducing fatigue levels, increasing endurance, improve usage of oxygen, increase stamina, improves heart health and circulation. The thyroid, pituitary, thymus and adrenal glands are strengthened by nutrient-rich goji berries. Muscles are also regenerated. Polysaccharides reduce muscle soreness. Goji berries protect the liver and eliminate toxins.
Nutrient-rich goji berries can be an integral part of a weight loss program.
How to include goji berries in diet
The best benefits of goji berries are got when we eat the whole fruit. However, since these are hard to come by in most places, the next best alternative is to eat the dried fruit, goji juice and tea. Whole berries offer us all the nutrients. Juices and teas may not provide us with fiber and proteins although they will give us plenty of vitamins, phytochemicals and minerals. There are goji supplements and extracts which are sold at very high prices. Most nutritionists advice us to be careful about these products unless we know their origins. These often do not provide the benefits they claim they will. Using fresh goji products is the best way to get optimum health benefits of this berry.
Apart from juice and fresh fruit, goji berries can be added to our cereals, mixed with other fruit juices, trail mixes, nut bars, whole fruit bars, baked goods, salads and soups. Combining goji berries with other nutrient-rich berries will give us maximum health benefits.
The main disadvantage of using goji for weight loss is the high cost. The best variety is the Himalayan goji berry that is difficult to get. Many manufacturers claim their products are Himalayan goji berry. However, unless they are reliable, we cannot substantiate their claims. Goji berry may not help everyone lose weight.
It is true that goji berry products have an excellent combination of vitamins and minerals which promote weight loss. The low glycemic index prevents food cravings and the fiber content keeps us felling full for longer periods. Hence, overall goji berries can be used as part of an effective weight loss program and helps us maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Source: internet research, papers, books