I eat goji berries every day. It hasn’t always been this way, and I was slow to convert, but now I love them.
A couple of years ago, I bought a pack of goji berries. Like many of these kinds of things that I buy on whim, they sat unopened in my cupboard for ages. Then one day I was hunting around for something to go in a fruit and nut mix to go on top of my porridge. I chucked some in, and quite liked them, so I started adding a few here and there. I finished the pack, but didn’t bother buying another one.
Earlier this year, I started going back for acupuncture again to try and sort out a few niggly health issues. One of the dietary recommendations I was given was to add goji berries to my diet as a liver tonic.
I’m one of those incredibly annoying people who has to go and research stuff and ask lots of questions before they do what they’re told. So of course I started doing some research on the good old the goji berry, and I have to tell you, I’m hooked. I add these little dudes to everything, and I really notice a difference if I stop eating them for a week or so.
What’s so good about the goji? Read on as I tell you why you should be adding them to your diet!
What are goji berries?
Goji berries are grown in Asia, mostly China, and also in some parts of Europe. They’ve been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years.
In Australia, we get them as dried berries. You can also get them as juice, extracts in capsules or tablets, and in powder form. They’re high in antioxidants, so they’re starting to pop up in products like skincare, too.
What’s so good about goji berries?
Goji berries have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 2,000 years. Goji berries are used in Chinese medicine to help delay the aging process, to strengthen the kidneys and liver, and help eyes.
A small study into the health benefits of goji juice found that drinking it every day helped with energy levels, better sleep, ability to focus, and reduced fatigue and stress.
They’ve also been found to help with sleep quality. Researchers found that people consuming the equivalent of 150g of fresh goji berries each day fell asleep more easily, slept better, and woke up more easily.
Chinese medicine considers that goji berries are good for eye health. Goji berries are high in zeaxanthin dipalmitate. Zeaxanthin is thought to prevent age related macular degeneration, or loss of vision. A small study done in 2005 showed that eating whole goji berries increased zeaxanthin levels in the blood, although further studies are needed to confirm whether it does actually have any effect on eye health.
Personally, I’ve found that goji berries have a noticeable effect on my eye health. Although I have excellent vision, I get very dry eyes, partly from spending most of my working day in front of a screen, partly due to hormonal imbalances, according to my acupuncturist. When I eat goji berries every day, I have no trouble at all with my eyes. If I forget to eat them for a week or so, I notice my eyes getting dry and irritated again. Add goji berries, and I’m fine again within a couple of days.
What’s the serving size and nutritional value?
According to my pack of Naturally Goji organic goji berries, the serving size is 20g. 20g of goji berries gives you:
Goji berries, when eaten as a whole food, contain exceptional nutrient content. According to Paul Gross, author of Wolfberry: Nature’s Bounty of Nutrition and Health, goji berries are:
- high in protein, dietary fiber, and linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid (in the seeds)
- contain vitamin A (carotenoid provitamins), B vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, niacin – and vitamin C
- 11 essential and 22 trace minerals
- extremely high in antioxidants
- 18 amino acids with total content of 11 g per 100 g of dried fruit, an exceptional amino acid concentration
100g of dried fruit contains:
- potassium, 1,132 mg, 24% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance
- iron, 9 mg (100% of the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI, US Institute of Medicine)
- copper, 2 mg (100% DRI)
- zinc, 2 mg (18% DRI)
- riboflavin (vitamin B2), 1.3 mg (100% DRI)
What all of that means is that they’re very high in antioxidants. They’re high in iron, which is important for lots of women, especially me as I’m anaemic. They’re high in fibre, which is good for your bowels and gastrointestinal function (keeps you regular!). There’s also good amounts of minerals like potassium and copper, and high vitamin c keeps your immune system healthy.
All in all, goji berries are a nutrient dense food, so they’re a good addition to a balanced diet.
Don’t eat goji berries if …
Goji berries shouldn’t be eaten if you’re on warfarin (a blood thinner), or diabetes or blood pressure drugs.
They also shouldn’t be eaten if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.
How do you use goji berries?
They’re slightly sweet, with a faintly bitter/grassy aftertaste, but they’re not at all unpleasant. Small seeds inside give them texture.
You can eat the dried berries like sultanas or any other dried fruit. Add them to cereals, porridge, yoghurt, trail mixes, and salads.
Rehydrate them in water, and you can blend them into smoothies. You can also make a tea out of them by pouring boiling water over them. Add them to chrysanthemum tea if you’re having problems with your eyes.
Do you like goji berries? How do you eat them? Share below!
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