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Health Benefits of Goji Berries

There has been a lot of recent hype about this little 'wonder' fruit of late and for good reason! The goji berry or wolfberry, as it is often called, is in fact part of the eggplant, potato and tomato family and is commercially cultivated in China. The part of the cultivated plant that is eaten is the berries, which are a bright orange-red color and are about 1,5cm long. They are full of tiny yellow seeds and ripen during the summer months. The berries are ripened, and dried and eaten as a snack or as a dried fruit mixed into breakfast cereal. They have the same shape and texture as raisins and have a mix of sweet and sour flavor.

The goji berry's 11 essential minerals, 22 trace minerals, 7 vitamins and 18 amino acids define its extraordinary micronutrient richness, with examples below:

1. Calcium: The primary constituent of teeth and bones, calcium also has a diverse role in soft tissues where it is involved in cardiac, neuromuscular, enzymatic, hormonal, and transport mechanisms across cell membranes. Goji berries contain 112 mg of calcium per 100 grams serving, providing about 8-10% of our required daily intake.

2. Potassium: An essential electrolyte and enzyme cofactor, dietary potassium can lower high blood pressure. By giving us about 24% our daily needs, (1132 mg/100 grams), goji berries are an excellent source of potassium.

3. Iron: An oxygen carrier in hemoglobin, iron also is a cofactor for enzymes involved in numerous metabolic reactions. When intake is deficient, low iron levels cause iron deficiency anemia, a condition that affects millions of children worldwide. The goji berry is often regarded as the best plant source of iron.

4. Zinc: Essential for making proteins, DNA and the functions of more than 100 enzymes, zinc is involved in critical cell activities such as membrane transport, repair and growth, especially in infants. The zinc found in goji berries (2 mg/100 grams) has a high content and meets 20% of our daily requirements.

5. Selenium: Sometimes called the "antioxidant mineral", selenium is often included in supplements. Selenium has unusually high concentration in goji berries (50 micrograms/100 grams), almost enough for our daily dietary intake.

6. Riboflavin (vitamin B2): An essential vitamin supporting energy metabolism, riboflavin is needed for synthesizing other vitamins and enzymes. A daily goji berry serving (1.3 micrograms) provides the complete daily requirement for our bodies.

7. Vitamin C: A universal antioxidant vitamin protecting other antioxidant molecules from free radical damage, the vitamin C content in goji berries (20 mg/100 grams) is comparable to an equal weighting of fresh oranges, blueberries or soybeans.

You can find dried goji berries and goji berry juice at health food stores and Chinese herbal stores.

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