Goji berries: "miracle fruit" in the check

Goji berries from China are one of the new superfoods on the shelves of organic supermarkets. They are supposed to make you healthy, beautiful and slim. Is this claim justified?

Goji berries: exotic and supposedly healthy

© W & B / Fotolia

It is small, red and shriveled, and is said to have numerous positive properties: The goji berry, which comes from China, is said to boost the production of human growth hormone, strengthen the immune system, relieve sleep problems, do good for the eyes and even prevent cancer. Some models swear by berries as the source of their beauty. What is 30 euros for a kilo of dried berries in organic quality?

Dried as jam or capsules

In Germany, too, the "queen of superfoods" can be found on the shelves of many supermarkets. Here, too, consumers hope for the health effects. And once again it shows that exotic names work. Perhaps the hype would be less if the German name were on the bag: common wolfberry or Lycium barbarum.

You can eat the berries, which are up to one centimeter in size, if you like the sweet taste - somewhere between prunes and figs. They are usually offered dried, but they are also available as jams and concentrated in capsule form. Nothing speaks against a goji meatball with spinach and pine nuts.

Hardly any meaningful studies

Nevertheless, one should not expect miracles, even if on the websites of the organic goods online retailers there are links to supposedly scientific publications and to the fact that the fruit has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years. Many studies are experiments with cells or animals. And hardly any of the existing human studies meet scientific criteria.

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Goji: No advertising for empty promises

Typical is a frequently cited work by Harunobu Amagase and Dwight M. Nance, which aims to prove the effect of goji juice on fitness, sleep quality and satisfaction in a study with only 16 participants over two weeks.

An assessment by the European food safety authority EFSA should be taken more seriously. "The EFSA has checked the studies submitted on the health-related statements and found for all health-related statements requested for goji berries that no causal relationship could be shown between the claims and the consumption of goji berries," says Silke Restemeyer from the German Society for nutrition (DGE). The European Union has therefore decided: Manufacturers are no longer allowed to advertise that goji berries have a therapeutic effect.

How much vitamin C is there in goji berries?

It doesn't help that the representatives of the superfruit refer to the numerous ingredients, to carbohydrates, fiber, proteins and the secondary plant substances lutein and zeaxanthin. Because all of these substances can also be found in Central European fruit and vegetables. The high vitamin C content of goji fruits is advertised in particular. But berries are rarely fresh in Germany. "With regard to the vitamin content, fresh local raspberries or strawberries are therefore preferable," says Restemeyer.

Pesticides and drug interactions

There is one more thing to consider, says the expert: Goji berries can cause dangerous interactions with some blood-thinning drugs. The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices therefore warns against taking blood-thinning coumarins at the same time as products made from goji berries. And several analyzes indicate that the fruits - like many foods from distant countries - are often more heavily contaminated with pesticides. In 2010, the Stuttgart Veterinary Investigation Office found that the limit values ​​were exceeded in 13 of 14 samples from conventional cultivation.

Conclusion

If you want to try goji berries, you should pay attention to organic quality. The exotic fruits really contain healthy ingredients, but local fruits such as blueberries and apples can also keep up. And didn't have to be transported halfway around the world.

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