The Antioxidant Superfoods: Goji Berries and Dark Chocolate
What’s all the hype over goji berries?
- Goji berries are among the most nutritious foods on the planet.
- Goji berries contain 3 times the amount of potassium of banana.
- 100g of goji berries contains 24% RDI of potassium and 100g of banana has just 8% RDI.
- Goji berries have 3 times the vitamin C of an orange and 100% of the RDI of iron.
- Anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing properties
Goji berries have been used as a medicinal and food plant in China for 1 700 years. It has been used as an immune tonic, to treat kidney and liver problems and infertility.
In the valleys of Tibet and Mongolia people cherish the Goji Berry. They have celebrations to honor the goji berry that last two weeks of each year. It is believed that this berry is what gives them their disease-free lives that often last for more than 100 years. People in the Ninxia region of Northern China have 16 times more centenarians than people in the rest of the country. According to Chinese legend, a man who regularly ate Goji soup lived to be 252 (shown below).
The high antioxidant properties of goji berries have been shown to reduce free radical damage associated conditions. Recent studies show that consumption of goji berries may reduce retina damage (retinopathy) in diabetes1,2. The antioxidants in goji berries may have anti-ageing and anti-tumor properties3. Additionally the antioxidative effect of goji berries may help atherosclerosis and diabetes4. Also animal studies have shown that goji berry consumption reduces prostate cancer associated cell death (apoptosis)5.
Dark chocolate derived from the plant (Theobroma cacao) is a rich source of flavonoids6. Many emerging studies show the beneficial effect of flavonoid rich foods and their protective effect on cardiovascular disease7-12. Dark chocolate has been shown to decrease blood pressure and increase insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects13. Additionally flavonoid rich dark chocolate has been shown to increase plasma antioxidant and phenol concentrations and improve endothelial function6. Dark chocolate has also been shown to improve coronary vascular function and reduce serum oxidative stress, just 2 hours after consumption14.
- Song MK, Roufogalis BD, Huang TH. Reversal of the Caspase-Dependent Apoptotic Cytotoxicity Pathway by Taurine from Lycium barbarum (Goji Berry) in Human Retinal Pigment Epithelial Cells: Potential Benefit in Diabetic Retinopathy. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:323784.
- Song MK, Salam NK, Roufogalis BD, Huang TH. Lycium barbarum (Goji Berry) extracts and its taurine component inhibit PPAR-γ-dependent gene transcription in human retinal pigment epithelial cells: Possible implications for diabetic retinopathy treatment. Biochem Pharmacol. 2011 Nov 1;82(9):1209-18.
- Zhang Z, Liu X, Zhang X, Liu J, Hao Y, Yang X, Wang Y. Comparative evaluation of the antioxidant effects of the natural vitamin C analog 2-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-L-ascorbic acid isolated from Goji berry fruit. Arch Pharm Res. 2011 May;34(5):801-10.
- Potterat O. Goji (Lycium barbarum and L. chinense): Phytochemistry, pharmacology and safety in the perspective of traditional uses and recent popularity. Planta Med. 2010 Jan;76(1):7-19.
- Luo Q, Li Z, Yan J, Zhu F, Xu RJ, Cai YZ. Lycium barbarum polysaccharides induce apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells and inhibits prostate cancer growth in a xenograft mouse model of human prostate cancer. J Med Food. 2009 Aug;12(4):695-703. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2008.1232.
- Engler MB, Engler MM, Chen CY, Malloy MJ, Browne A, Chiu EY, Kwak Hx, Milbury P, Paul SM, Blumberg J and Mietus-Snyder M. Flavonoid-Rich Dark Chocolate Improves Endothelial Function and Increases Plasma Epicatechin Concentrations in Healthy Adults, J Am Coll Nutr June 2004 vol. 23 no. 3 197-204.
- Knekt P, Kumpulainen J, Järvinen R, Rissanen H, Heliövaara M, Reunanen A, Hakulinen T, Aromaa A: Flavonoid intake and risk of chronic diseases. Am J Clin Nutr76 :560– 568,2002 .
- Geleijnse JM, Launer LJ, van der Kuip DAM, Hofman A, Witteman JCM: Inverse association of tea and flavonoid intakes with incident myocardial infraction: the Rotterdam Study. Am J Clin Nutr75 :880– 886,2002 .
- Joshipura KJ, Hu FB, Manson JE, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Speizer FE, Colditz G, Ascherio A, Rosner B, Spiegelman D, Willett WC. The effect of fruit and vegetable intake on risk for coronary heart disease. Ann Intern Med. 2001; 134: 1106–1114.
- Grassi D, Lippi C, Necozione S, Desideri G, and Ferri C. Short-term administration of dark chocolate is followed by a significant increase in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood pressure in healthy persons, Am J Clin Nutr March 2005 vol. 81 no. 3 611-614.
- Flammer AJ, Hermann F, Sudano I, Spieker L, Hermann M, Cooper KA, Serafini M, Lüscher TF, Ruschitzka F, Noll G and Corti R. Dark Chocolate Improves Coronary Vasomotion and Reduces Platelet Reactivity. Circulation. 2007; 116: 2376-2382 Published online before print November 5, 2007.
- Arts ICW, Jacobs DR, Harnack LJ, Gross M, Folsom AR: Dietary catechins in relation to coronary heart disease death among postmenopausal women. Epidemiology12 :668– 675,2001 .
- Yochum L, Kushi LH, Meyer K, Folsom AR: Dietary flavonoid intake and risk of cardiovascular disease in postmenopausal women. Am J Epidermiol149 :943– 949,1999 .
- Hertog MG, Kromhout D, Aravanis C, Blackburn H, Buzina R, Fidanza F, Giampaoli S, Jansen A, Menotti A, Nedeljkovic S, Pekkarinen M, Simic BS, Toshima H, Feskens EJM, Hollman PCH, Katan MB: Flavonoid intake and long-term risk of coronary heart disease and cancer in the seven countries study. Arch Intern Med155 :381– 386,1995.