Goji Berries And Their Eye-Brightening Capabilities
Goji berries are a staple food in Chinese culture, and many people have been eating this sweet snack for centuries in hopes of living a longer life. In Chinese medicine, goji berries are meant to “brighten the eyes”, and in a recent randomized trial done at the University of California, Davis, there seems to indeed be a connection between goji berry consumption and eye health.
AMD (age-related macular disorder) is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly and affects 170 million people worldwide. It occurs when aging damages the macula, the part of the eye that controls central vision, and the rate at which the disease progresses varies from person to person. There are also a variety of factors that affect the development of AMD, including genetic risks, age-associated changes, diet, smoking, and sun exposure. There are no symptoms for the early stages of AMD, however, it can easily be diagnosed through a regular eye exam.
In the experiment, 13 healthy individuals aged 45 to 65 were to consume 28 grams, or approximately an ounce, of dried goji berries 5 times a week. After 90 days, there was a notable increase in the density of two particular protective pigments in their eyes, lutein and zeaxanthin. This is contrasted by the 14 individuals who consumed a commercial supplement over the same period of time and showed no increase.
The protective pigments that filter out dangerous blue light and provide antioxidant protection, called lutein and zeaxanthin, were found to increase in the group that ate goji berries. Additionally, both pigments help to protect the eye against aging, and are known to reduce the risk of eye diseases related to AMD. Xiang Li, the lead author of this study, also researched the various bioactive compounds within goji berries and found high quantities of lutein and zeaxanthin in a highly bioavailable form, meaning that the pigments are easily absorbed in the digestive system to be used.
The results of this study are very promising, as it shows that healthy individuals can still show an increase in these macular pigments with just a small daily intake of goji berries, and there exists a natural food source than can improve the optical pigments of participants far beyond taking high-dose eye health supplements. Li believes that their next step in their research is to discover the effect of goji berries on patients in the early stages of AMD. Although the results of this study were optimistic, the researchers acknowledge that there was a small sample size and that further research is required.