Although trendy for some time now, one of my new favorite superfoods is the goji berry. I have dabbled with this little bright dried fruit in the past but it never became a regular staple in my diet…until now. I have become completely hooked on these nutrient dense, raisin-like treats and for good reason.
Sometimes called wolfberries, goji berries have been grown in the Himalayan valleys of China, Mongolia and Tibet. They have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years either eaten raw, brewed into a tea, added to soups or made into a tonic or tincture. Gojis were given to improve eye sight, sexual function, fertility, circulation, overall strength and liver function. But most importantly, the goji berry was used to boost longevity. Old legends say that monks in the Himalayan Mountains steeped goji berries in hot water to help aid meditation as well as to obtain greater health, vitality, energy and stamina.
Goji berries begin as small purple flowers growing on thorny bushes of the Lycium barbarum plant that reach anywhere from one to three meters high. In the warm summer months, the delicate berries are hand harvested and set in the sun to dry so they become moist and chewy. They are a rich, vibrant red-orange color and have a taste similar to dried cherries, raisins and cranberries, of which is mildly tangy, slightly sweet and just a touch sour.
Known as a vitality fruit, these delicious berries have numerous benefits, including:
One of the highest levels of antioxidants than any other fruit. They typically contain 2-4 times the amount of antioxidants in blueberries.
Goji berries also have an extraordinary nutrient profile. They are high in vitamins and minerals including Vitamin A and E, as well as over 20 other trace minerals including zinc, iron, phosphorus, riboflavin, copper and calcium.
They are a complete source of protein, containing nineteen different amino acids and all eight essential amino acids.
They have been shown to improve eyesight because they contain particular carotenoid called zeaxanthin, which has been shown to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant.
Goji’s are also a tonic adaptagen, meaning that through a combination of therapeutic actions, they invigorate and strengthen the body, assists us in dealing with stress more easily and supports the adrenal glands (which usually get taxed the most when we feel stress).
Maybe most fascinating is that goji berries keep us young acting as the world’s greatest anti-aging superfood. As we age, we produce less human growth hormone, HGH, which have been linked to symptoms of aging. Goji berries are the only food known to help stimulate the human body to produce more HGH naturally. Foundation of youth, baby!
If that isn’t enough, gojis may prevent the growth of cancer cells, reduce blood glucose, support brain/neurological health and lower cholesterol levels. They boost immune function and offer liver protection while building and cleansing the blood. Some studies have even shown goji berries enhance mental well-being, calmness, athletic ability, happiness, quality of sleep, sexual performance and feelings of good health.
The best way to consume them is straight out of the bag. A handful a day will definitely keep the doctor away. They can be used as a tasty superfruit boost to oatmeal, granola, cookies, tea, trail mix (especially with cacao nibs!!) and salad. Goji berries can also be soaked in water which can then be used as a base for smoothies. (Genius, I know.) Try throwing a handful into your tea for a powerful nutrient boost with a soft, fruity flavor. You can also experiment with goji tea, oil, extract powder, juice, truffles and chocolate bars. As always, it is best to buy organic!
As a leading longevity and vitality building food, goji berries should be a daily part of your diet. If your goal is to stay young, beautiful and healthy, goji berries are the key!!!