Although goji berries (also called wolfberries) have been known and used in China as a medicinal food for over 2,000 years, in Western cultures they’ve become popular only in the last decade. Even today, the name of the fruit sounds unfamiliar to many Americans and Europeans.
Goji berries have quickly gained a reputation of being a superfruit, a marketing term first used in the food industry in 2004. This commercial term has increased the interest in goji berries for their novelty and nutritional value. Farmers in Canada and the United States started cultivating goji to meet potential markets for fresh and dried berries, juice, and processed products
In Chinese mythology, goji berries are known as the fruit of immortality. Companies marketing the berries often propagate the unsupported claim that a Chinese man named Li Qing Yuen, who was said to have consumed goji berries daily, lived to the age of 256 years (1677–1933).
Maybe, if you eat goji berries every day you will live healthy for 120 years. Maybe not. But it will not hurt to try.
Goji Berries Nutritional Value
According to the NutritionValue.org website, a 100-gramm serving of dried goji berries contains:
- calories – 349
- total carbohydrate – 77g, including 46g of sugar and 13g of dietary fiber (52% of the Daily Value, DV)
- protein – 14g (28% DV)
- vitamin A – 536% DV
- vitamin C – 48mg (81% DV)
- sodium298mg (13% DV)
- iron – 7mg (38% DV)
Dried goji berries are an excellent source of vitamins, essential minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber in both soluble (pectin) and insoluble forms (cellulose). Proteins in dried goji berries are “complete”, having all 9 amino acids essential in human nutrition. The fruits are also naturally cholesterol-free and gluten-free.
When ripe, the oblong, red berries are tender and must be picked carefully or shaken from the vine into trays to avoid spoiling. The fruits are preserved by drying them in full sun on open trays or by mechanical dehydration employing a progressively increasing series of heat exposure over 48 hours.
9 Science-Based Health Benefits of Goji Berries
- Provitamin A powerhouse: The vibrant color of dried goji berries indicates that they are rich in beta-carotene, which is transformed to vitamin A in the body. Goji berries are not rich in provitamin A; they are superrich, having 536% of its Daily Value.
- Anti-aging agents: Goji berries are packed with antioxidants, the most powerful anti-aging substances that fight free radical damage associated with aging and diseases.
- Immunity booster: Vitamins A and C are important for strengthening the immune system because they function as antioxidants. Many studies indicate that vitamin A has been linked to reduced rates of cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters.
- Hemoglobin production trigger: Goji berries are packed with iron. One serving of them provides with 7mg of iron, 38% of its Daily Value! Iron is an active part of haemoglobin, which is responsible for the transport and storage of oxygen, as well as the transfer of electrons. Dietary iron improves red blood cells production.
- Great source of dietary fiber: Dried goji berries contain 52% of the Daily Value for dietary fiber, which lowers your cholesterol levels and helps regulate your blood-sugar levels. It prevents constipation because of its laxative effect. A recommended daily intake of dietary fiber is between 25 and 35 grams.
- Eyes health provider: Goji berries contain three key nutrients that support vision: vitamin A, lutein and zeaxanthin. Studies show that consuming high amounts of them maintains the eyes health and lowers the risk for developing age-related cataract and other eye diseases.
- Skin health promoter: The vitamins in dried goji berries can give your skin a healthy glow and protect from the harmful effects of UV radiation. The rich content of vitamin A and C naturally occurring in goji berries helps to improve skin tone and texture.
- Essential amino acids supplier: Goji berries contain all 9 essential amino acids that cannot be synthesized in the body and must be obtained from the diet. Amino acids are building blocks for proteins we need.
- Liver and kidney health promoter: A compound found in goji berries called betaine, is used by the liver to produce choline. Choline supports the liver and kidneys by helping them expel toxins and waste from the body.
Packed with many essential nutrients, goji berries are naturally sweet and chewy. You can sprinkle goji berries on yogurt or salad, or snack on them out of the bag. Dried goji berries are often cooked before consuming and added to rice congee and almond jelly, as well as used in Chinese tonic soups, in combination with chicken or pork, vegetables, and other herbs such as wild yam or licorice root. They are also great as herbal tea.