Gogi berries in a bowl The Superfood for November is Goji berries. Native to Asia, this sweet, slightly sour brightly colored fruit has been used as a medicinal herb and food supplement for more than 2,000 years. What makes goji berries so good? Goji berries are called a superfood because they contain chemical compounds that have many health benefits.

Goji berries protect the eye as they reduce the risk of glaucoma and protect against age-related eye diseases since they contain high levels of healthy antioxidants, a much larger concentration than most other fruits. Since antioxidants help neutralize the cell-damaging effects of free radicals, eating more antioxidant-rich foods like goji berries can help guard against diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and most types of cancer.

Goji berries also contain a large amount of vitamins and minerals. Goji berries contain large amounts of vitamins A and C, which are vital for building immunity and preventing illnesses, ranging from the common cold to cancer. The goji berry contains approximately 500 times more vitamin C per weight than an orange. Goji berries also contain beta-carotene, vital for eye health, bone health, skin health, and cell development. The amount of beta-carotene in goji berries is among the highest of all edible plants. Beta-carotene is an ingredient used in skin creams to improve skin health, reduce skin irritation, and manage the effects of the sun and of aging.

Gogi BerriesGoji berries may be helpful in controlling the release of sugar into the blood. They balance insulin and glucose levels in the blood and linked goji berries to increased HDL levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Goji berries may help to improve mood and quality of sleep. They are a rich source of magnesium and B1, both of which are necessary for healthful sleep. And here’s another fact about goji berries: they contain naturally occurring melatonin! So have some before bed for a restful night’s sleep.

So how do we add goji berries to our diet? Easy! Fresh or dried goji berries can be added to smoothies, trail mixes, oatmeal, yogurt, salads, baked goods, desserts, sauces, just about anything. It is also easy for people to eat them by the handful as a snack.

Even with all the known benefits of goji berries, some people will need to avoid these healthy berries. Goji berries may interact with some medications, including blood thinners, blood pressure medications, and diabetes drugs, so be sure to consult your doctor before trying this Superfood.

Blog written by Debi Kopman, Life Enrichment Director for Sonoma Hills Retirement