The Chinese wolfberry, commercially know as the “goji” berry, has long been hailed as the premier “brain tonic” in Asia. Goji berries have been cultivated and used for memory improvement for over 600 years. Claims have also been made that wild goji berries increase exercise endurance and stamina, eliminate fatigue, and even restore and heighten the libido.
The berries are usually picked and dried for consumption, although they can be rehydrated as a delectable addition to any smoothie. These berries grow wild in Asia as well as southeastern Europe.
Claims aside, goji berries contain betaine, which is then converted to choline – an “essential nutrient.” Choline is labeled an essential nutrient because it is required for normal body functioning and either cannot be synthesized by the body at all, or cannot be synthesized in amounts adequate for good health – and thus must be obtained from a dietary source, such as goji berries. Choline is usually grouped with the Vitamin B complex and is essential for cell membranes and neurotransmission.
The goji berry is also a tremendous antioxidant, boasting a very high number of ORAC units. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Scale) is a measure of the antioxidants ability to absorb oxygen “free radicals,” which have been implicated for biological mutations such as DNA breakdown and mutation, cancer, premature aging, dementia, Alzheimer’s, etc.
Although there are truckloads of reputable sources supporting the health benefits of antioxidants, goji berries in particular, I would warn against buying into every boastful medicinal herb or berry purported as having antioxidant powers. The recent antioxidant craze in the health/nutrition community has paved the way for some unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims regarding antioxidants. The fact is that the scientific community has not yet addressed all the claims made in the recent years, but evidence up to this point has sided with the more moderate claims as to the healing properties of antioxidants.