Antioxidants are minerals, vitamins and other nutrients.
They help repair cell damage, and protect cells from attack by free radicals.
Cell damage by free radicals can lead to a range of serious health problems like atherosclerosis, arthritis and cancer. Our immune system also gets weakened by attack from free radicals.
Foods such as fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants and these can protect the immune system, stave off serious illnesses and even keep off common infections like colds and flu.
The following are some of the vitamins and minerals which have antioxidant properties.
Vitamin C, E and beta-carotene are the 3 important antioxidant vitamins.
They can be found in colored (purple, orange, red, blue, yellow) fruits and vegetables.
Among the super foods that are rich in these antioxidants are all berries, red grapes, onions, raisins, apples, prunes, eggplant, and beans and so on.
Minerals like zinc and selenium also contain antioxidant properties. The best way to get the antioxidant benefits from fruits and vegetables is by eating them raw or steamed very lightly. Boil, frying or overcooking will kill most of the nutrients.
Vitamin and mineral supplements do provide us with some of these nutrients. However, eating fresh fruits and vegetables will give us many other nutrients which combine to provide better health benefits.
What are Goji Berries!
Wolfberries, goji berries or Lycium barbarum belong to the Solanaceae family. Goji berries are predominantly grown in Asia and south east Europe.
The Lycium barbarum variety grows in the Ningxia Hui regions of northern China. These are deciduous woody shrubs which grow to heights of 1-3m and the berries usually mature around August-October each year.
Other regions where goji berries grow are Mongolia and Himalayan valleys in Tibet. Goji berries are usually dried and consumed. These dried berries resemble raisins and are deep red-orange in color.
They also contain anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.
They contain over 19 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, high levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene, vitamins E, B1, B2 and B6, polysaccharides, iron, linoleic acid etc.
Amazing Antioxidant Properties of Goji Berries
The following are some of the antioxidant nutrients that goji berries contain and the health benefits they provide.
- Vitamin C provides heart health by improving circulation, preventing plaque formation in the arteries and averts diseases like atherosclerosis.
- Beta carotene improves immunity and reduces risk of cancer
- Cystine helps with a healthy stomach lining
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2) converts carbohydrates to energy
- Vitamin E lowers risk of heart disease and mortality rates are reduced, it can reduce risk of carcinogens forming in the stomach and slows progression of various age-related eye disorders like cataract and macular degeneration.
- Manganese helps maintain healthy bones, cartilage and skin
- Zinc quickens wound healing and helps with vision, fertility and immunity
- Copper is needed for hormonal function, improved energy and healthy skin
- Selenium maintains liver and thyroid health, protects against cancer and improves immunity
- Lutein is a carotenoid that helps synthesize retinol (vitamin A). It promotes eye health. ,
In the Chinese and Himalayan regions where goji berries are grown, this fruit is called the ‘longevity fruit’ since more people here live to be centenarians.
Researchers say that this could be the immense nutrient value found in these berries. Antioxidants found in goji berries protect our DNA and reduce the signs of aging. Free radicals damage DNA and hasten aging. Too many free radicals affect the ability of the body cells to repair themselves.
This increases as we grow older. Our muscles degenerate and this causes various age related problems.
The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale measures the levels of antioxidants in various foods. USDA researchers state that foods high on the ORAC scale protect cells from oxidative damage. These foods have powerful anti-aging properties. Goji berry has been rated number 1 on the ORAC scale.
Precautions with Goji Berries
Anyone who suffers from any allergies to the various nutrients must exercise caution when consuming goji berries. Normally, eating limited quantities do not produce any side effects.
Those on blood thinners like warfarin must avoid goji berries. They also interact adversely with blood pressure and diabetes medications.
When purchasing goji berry products, we need to be extremely careful for there are many unscrupulous marketers who make false claims about its health benefits and the origins of the fruit.
Such irresponsible marketing will only hurt the image of goji berries. Purchase goji berry products only from reputed and reliable marketers. Try to get Himalayan goji berries which are said to contain the best antioxidant properties.