Goji berries are yet another super food to try - and full of many health benefits. The orange-red berries grow on evergreen shrubs in temperate and subtropical regions of China as well as Mongolia and Tibet and are a member of the nightshade family. Goji berries have been the mainstay of herbalists in China and other countries for thousands of years.
What do goji berries look like?
Usually marketed dry, goji berries take on the look of shriveled red raisins but in spite of their less than imposing appearance, they are small powerhouses of nutrients and other health benefits. Goji berries have a mild tangy taste that is slightly sweet and sour. They have a similar shape and chewy texture as raisins.
Rich in antioxidants
There have been several studies that show that the goji berry is rich in antioxidants helping to prevent the growth of cancer cells, reduce blood glucose and lower cholesterol levels.
Goji berries for treating
- Diabetes, high blood pressure, blood circulation problems, malaria and cancer.
- They are also used to treat erectile dysfunction, fever, light-headedness, nosebleeds, ringing in the ears and wheezing.
- Goji berries act as an antioxidant to lower blood sugar, enhance the immune system and protect the liver and the nervous system.
- Goji berries are rich in carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. One of zeaxanthin's key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. An increased intake of zeaxanthin is thought to decrease the risk of developing blurred vision and age-related macular degeneration or AMD (the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65).
- The promotion of longevity is another health benefit of goji berries.
- Some use goji berries for strengthening muscles and bone, and as a blood, liver and kidney tonic.
- Goji berries are rich in several nutrients that help to convert food into energy, rather than storing it as fat, including B1 (thiamin), calcium and other minerals such as chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc.
Making goji berry tea
In recent years, goji juice has become popular as a health beverage but in traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are eaten raw, brewed into a tea, added to Chinese soups or made into liquid extracts.
The tea is made by boiling 20g of berries in three cups of water, then simmering until reduced to two cups. The usual daily dose is one or more cups of tea.
Other things to know about goji berries
Goji juice is a popular way to take the superfood while actual goji berries are available in the US as snack foods. For example, Trader Joe's sells a goji berry trail mix. Add goji berries to your breakfast dish of muesli and yoghurt with other fruit and berries.
A couple of common sense words of warning about side effects from goji berries
They may interact with anticoagulant drugs (commonly called "blood-thinners"), such as Warfarin while goji berries should be used cautiously in the presence of abnormal blood pressure and diabetes, and should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding. All just common sense.
Add goji berries to your growing list of healthy foods for all they have to offer for your health.