Goji berries can become valuable allies for the health of the retina, protecting it from the damage of blue light, free radicals and diseases related to aging. This emerges from a recent review that appeared in the Nutrients journal thanks to the work of a team of scientists from Singapore (Neelam et al, Nutrients, 2021).
Goji berries, properties
Goji berries are the fruits of the Lycium barbarum plant and can be purchased in dried form in all supermarkets and organic food stores. Goji berries are a source of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, but also copper, manganese, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Not only that, these tasty and sweet berries are also characterized by the presence of carotenoids, antioxidant substances such as beta carotene but above all zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid present in the macula, which is the central area of the retina, with the function of protecting the nerve cells of the eye from damage by light and free radicals. The zeaxanthin contained in goji berries is also in an easily bioavailable form, even to a higher extent than other food sources of this carotenoid.
Goji berries for vision health
Age-related macular degeneration is characterized by a progressive loss of central vision due to atrophy and neovascularization in the central area of the retina. The causes are not yet clear but it is believed that oxidative stress can play an important role. A treatment based on goji berry extracts has been shown to protect retinal cells from damage from blue light, ultraviolet light and free radicals by increasing the amount of zeaxanthin present in the retina. In particular, the retinal cells were found to be more vital and with a lower risk of undergoing apoptosis, conditions that have allowed, according to scientific studies, a delay in the progression of macular degeneration. Not only that, in the case of macular degeneration in the initial phase, integration with goji berries has led to an improvement in vision. Goji berries have also been shown to be beneficial in diabetic retinopathy, which is a complication of diabetes. It is believed that hyperglycemia causes an increase in free radicals which in turn can induce damage to the retina. Goji berries have been shown to protect the structure of the retina even in the presence of diabetes by restoring the thickness of the retina and counteracting the abnormal formation of new blood vessels.
Goji berries, how to take them to maximize their benefits
The way in which goji berries are consumed can even increase the antioxidant activity of zeaxanthin. For example, making goji berry tea is definitely a good choice. In fact, the temperature and the infusion time increase the antioxidant capacity of goji in a directly proportional way. Bring a cup of water to a boil, remove from heat and add a tablespoon of goji berries. Leave to infuse for a couple of hours, then filter, heat slightly and drink. To further increase the bioavailability of zeaxanthin, you can instead use a cup of hot milk, in which you have added a spoonful of goji berries left to infuse for a couple of hours. Blend with the hand blender and drink, this process increases the availability of zeaxanthin by three times.