The science of Goji leaves

Constituents and effects

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The science of Goji leaves


As promised, we will look at a scientific study done on the constituents and effects of Goji leaves.

Link to the publication:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14756366.2016.1243535

This scientific study conducted at the University of Hamburg, focuses on Goji leaves, specifically comparing the chemical makeup and potential health benefits of leaves from both wild and cultivated Goji plants. It's essentially a detailed analysis into what makes these leaves tick, exploring their potential as a natural source of goodness. 

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Here's a breakdown of the key points:

1. Chemical Composition:

The researchers analyzed the leaves for various chemical compounds, particularly phenolic compounds and flavonoids. These are types of antioxidants found in plants, known for their potential health benefits.

They found that Goji leaves, both wild and cultivated, are rich in these antioxidant compounds. Some specific examples include chlorogenic acid, rutin, quercetin, and kaempferol.

Interestingly, cultivated Goji leaves were found to have higher levels of certain phenolic compounds compared to wild leaves. This suggests that cultivation practices might influence the leaf's chemical profile. 

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2. Biological Activity:

The study didn't just stop at identifying the chemicals; it also explored their biological effects. The researchers tested the extracts of Goji leaves for various activities, including:

Antioxidant activity: This assesses the ability of the leaves to scavenge harmful free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to aging and disease.

Antimicrobial activity: This checks if the leaves have any properties that can kill or inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi.

Antimutagenic activity: This evaluates the leaves' potential to prevent mutations in DNA, which can lead to cancer and other diseases.

The results showed that Goji leaves exhibit all three of these activities, meaning they have the potential to:

Protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
Fight off harmful bacteria and fungi.
Help prevent mutations in DNA.
 

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3. Potential Health Benefits

Based on the findings on chemical composition and biological activity, the researchers suggest that Goji leaves could offer various potential health benefits:

Boosting the immune system: The antioxidant and antimicrobial properties could help strengthen the body's defense against infections.

Reducing the risk of chronic diseases: Antioxidants may help prevent conditions like cancer, heart disease, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Promoting overall health and well-being: The combined effects of these bioactive compounds could contribute to better health and vitality.

4. Cultivated vs. Wild Goji Leaves:

While both types of leaves seem to offer health benefits, the study suggests that cultivated Goji leaves might have an edge. Their higher levels of certain phenolic compounds could potentially translate to stronger antioxidant and other biological activities. 

The study authors suggest that more research is needed to confirm the health benefits of goji leaves in humans. However, the results are promising, and there's no harm in adding a handful of these nutrient-rich leaves to your next smoothie, salad or stir-fry. 

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