Native to the Himalayas, goji berries are the red fruits of plants in the Lycium genus, which are related to potatoes, tomatoes and tobacco, other plants in the Nightshade family. In English they are also known as ‘wolfberries’. Available as a dried fruit, powder or juice, goji berries have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for hundreds of years, and are now gaining popularity as a ‘superfruit’ because they contain so many nutrients and antioxidants. These red berries, which resemble small peppers, have been used for more than 5000 years in East Asia.
Goji berries are very high in fibre and vitamin A—they contain more betacarotene than any other food, even carrots—and, to a lesser extent, vitamin C (more than oranges per weight), calcium and iron. Goji berries are also very high in antioxidants, so they are a great anti-inflammatory and detoxer. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, goji is used as an immune tonic and a blood tonic. Research on their medicinal properties is being carried out around the globe.
Gojis berries don’t taste great, so it’s a good idea to soften them in water before adding them to smoothies, syrups, muesli bars, ice cream or cakes. Dried goji berries are usually cooked before you eat them, so you can add them to stuffings, soups, teas, casseroles or congee. You can use them to chrysanthemum leaves as a tea.
Be sure to buy organic or at least sulfur-free goji berries, as the berries of Chinese origin have been found to have unacceptable levels of pesticides, leading to the confiscation of these products.
Below – dark chocolate coated goji berries – available from your health food store. Warning – addictive.