According to researchers, eating a small serving of dried goji berries regularly may provide protection against age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss in seniors. AMD is the leading cause of vision loss in older people, and it is estimated to affect more than 11 million in the United States and 170 million globally. AMD reduces central field of vision, impairing ability to read and recognize faces.
The researchers found that 13 healthy participants aged 45 to 65 who consumed 28 grams (about one ounce, or a handful) of goji berries five times a week for 90 days showed increased the density of protective pigments in their eyes. In contrast, 14 study participants who consumed a commercial supplement for eye health over the same period did not show an increase.
The pigments that increased in the group that ate goji berries, lutein and zeaxanthin, filter out harmful blue light and provide antioxidant protection. Both help to protect the eyes during aging. "Lutein and zeaxanthin are like sunscreen for your eyes," said lead author Xiang Li. "The higher the lutein and zeaxanthin in your retina, the more protection you have. Our study found that even in normal healthy eyes, these optical pigments can be increased with a small daily serving of goji berries," said Li.
|Goji berries are the fruit of Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum, two species of shrubby bushes found in northwest China. The dried berries are a common ingredient in Chinese soups and are popular as herbal tea. They are similar to raisins and eaten as a snack.|
In Chinese medicine, goji berries are said to have "eye brightening" qualities.
Li researched the bioactive compounds in goji berries and found they contain high quantities of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are known to reduce the risk of eye diseases related to AMD. The form of zeaxanthin in goji berries is also a highly bioavailable form, according to Li.
"Our study shows goji berries, which are a natural food source, can improve macular pigments of healthy participants beyond taking high-dose nutritional supplements," said co-author Glenn Yiu.
Dried fruit and berries are indeed not only a treat but good for the body. Dried goji berries, by the way, also supplies the body with an outstanding source of fiber.
Li X, et al. “Goji Berry Intake Increases Macular Pigment Optical Density in Healthy Adults: A Randomized Pilot Trial.” Nutrients, 2021; 13 (12): 4409