I’ve been hearing about goji berries for some time now. A few weeks ago, a friend served them at a meal we were enjoying together. She told me they have more protein than most fruits. And I’ve heard goji berries called a superfood, so I was anxious to try them. Small, wrinkly and red, you’ll think of them like a red raisin. They’re a little tart, but not overly so and very chewy.
Goji berries are from China, where they have been consumed for thousands of years. Sometimes called wolf berries, when fresh, they have an orangey-red color and grow on an evergreen bush. They can be eaten raw, cooked, dried (like I had them) or made into tea, juice, wine or forms of Chinese medicine.
There’s a fascinating story of a man named Li Qing Yuen who is believed to have lived over 200 years. Although there are disputes about his year of birth, he is said to have survived 23 wives and to have had over 200 descendants. During his lifetime Li Qing Yuen was an herbalist who sold and ate, among other things, goji berries.
If you do an internet search for goji berries, you’ll see claims of many health benefits, including protecting the liver, improving fertility and sexual functioning, strengthening immunity, improving circulation, promoting weight loss, increasing the health of skin and hair and much more. Many of these claims lack modern scientific evidence. Which doesn’t mean they aren’t true. Just that they haven’t been proven.
We do know that goji berries provide zeaxanthin, an antioxidant thought to improve eyesight and decrease the chances of experiencing macular degeneration as we age. Kale, spinach and broccoli are also sources of zeaxanthin. Like other berries, goji berries are a good source of beta-carotene, which helps skin glow. They are also high in Vitamin C and amino acids.
Like many other fruits, they are relatively low in calories, naturally fat free and contain fiber. Please ask your doctor about adding goji berries to your diet if you are on diabetes medication or blood thinners. There is some evidence of drug interaction issues, especially when goji is taken as a supplement or in tea or juice form.
Conclusion? If goji berries are a new fruit for you, give them a try. Just don’t expect miracles.
Rebeca Espinoza writes about health, fitness and weight loss for Spatz Medical, makers of the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon. You can find her on Google+ or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like the Spatz3 Adjustable Gastric Balloon page on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest for healthy eating tips, inspiring quotes, videos and photos and more.