Could dried goji berries offer protection against age-related macular degeneration and possible loss of vision?

A small, randomized study suggests that dried goji berries as a regular snack could prevent the development of age-related eye diseases. In addition, daily consumption of small servings of such dry berries appears to delay age-related macular degeneration in healthy middle-aged people. This is the leading cause of vision loss in the elderly and is estimated to affect more than 170 million worldwide.

How Dried Goji Berries Affect Eye Health

Macular degeneration affects the central field of vision and can affect the ability to recognize or read faces, according to the study authors. They found that 13 healthy participants, ages 45 to 65, who consumed 28 grams (about a handful) of dried goji berries five times a week for 90 days increased the density of protective pigments in their eyes. In contrast, 14 study participants who took a commercial eye health supplement over the same period showed no increase. The pigments that were fortified in the group that ate goji berries, lutein and zeaxanthin, filter out harmful blue light and provide antioxidant protection. In addition, both help protect the eyes as you age. The more of it there is in the retina, the more protected the eyes are. Accordingly, the research showed that these optical pigments are increased by the consumption of goji berries, even in normal, healthy eyes.

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Goji berries are the fruits of Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum, two types of shrub found in northwest China. The dried berries are a common ingredient in Chinese soups and a popular herbal tea. They are similar to raisins and are eaten as a snack. In Chinese medicine, goji berries are said to have “eye-brightening” properties. The form of zeaxanthin in goji berries is also a highly bioavailable form, according to the study authors. This means that it is easily absorbed by the digestive system for the body to use. To date, no known therapy has been sufficiently effective in addressing the early stages of age-related macular degeneration. The present work shows that dried goji berries, which are a natural source of nutrition, can improve macular pigments in healthy participants beyond taking supplements. However, while the results of this study are promising, the researchers note that the study size was small and more research will be needed.

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