Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are small berries grown on bushes that range in color from pale yellow to deep red. They are said to have originated in Asia where many different varieties can be found. Today, goji berries can also be found growing in North and Central America. They have a long history in traditional Chinese medicine for many reasons, including increasing longevity. They have a very unique flavor, kind of a cross between a cranberry and a cherry and can be both tart and sweet.
Health benefits of goji berries
According to David Wolfe in his book, Superfoods, goji berries are a complete protein source and contain many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B1, B2 and B6 along with zinc, iron and copper. They are also high in antioxidants that protect our DNA from free radicals. Wolfe states that goji berries can enhance libido, improve vision, support brain and cardiovascular health and increase longevity. In a 2008 clinical study, it was found that people who drank goji juice for 15 days had increased levels of energy, better mental focus along with improved feelings of health and happiness. While more research needs to be done in order to prove all of these health benefits, there's no denying that goji berries are a good addition to your diet.
One word of caution for those on prescription medications: WebMD reports that goji berries may interact with certain diabetes, blood pressure and blood thinner drugs. Be sure to consult your doctor if you are on any prescription medication before adding goji berries to your diet.
What to look for when buying goji berries
Goji berries can be consumed raw; however, they are most commonly sold dried. When buying dried goji berries, select organically grown berries that are somewhat soft and moist. They are usually sold in packages but can sometimes be found in bulk. They can be found at health food stores, certain grocery stores such as Whole Foods and online at sites such as Sunfood. Goji berry juice can also be purchased, but it's often expensive so you're better off buying raw or dried goji berries.
How to use goji berries
Raw and dried goji berries can both be eaten as is or added to recipes and smoothies. The berries can also be added to hot tea and consumed as a drink or rehydrated with water to make jam, juice or goji water. My favorite way to enjoy goji berries is mixed with other superfoods in a trail mix. It's easy to make and travels well, perfect for those of us who are on the go and need a quick snack!
Superfood trail mix
- 1/2 cup dried goji berries
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 1/4 cup raw cacao nibs
- 1/4 cup nuts of your choice
- Mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
- Transfer the trail mix to smaller bags and grab whenever you need a quick, healthy snack!