Goji Berries – Superfood Or Myth?

Goji berries – healthy superfood?

  • Other names: Wolfberry, Tibetan lucky berry, wolfberry, wolfberry (Lycium barbarum), Chinese wolfberry (Lycium chinense), “red diamond”, Chinese: ningxiá gouqi
  • Origin: Southeast Europe and Southwest Asia (from China and the Himalayas)
  • Cultivation: Asia, Europe, USA
  • Species: Nightshade, a shrub up to 3 m tall with thorns, hardy
  • Taste: dried, it tastes sweet to tart, not sour, rather bitter, is often compared to dried cherries or cranberries. Raw berries are sweet to tart-bitter
  • You can get goji berries as… tea, powder, dried fruit, capsules, juice, fruit spread. You rarely get fresh fruit from us in Germany
  • Ingredients: Antioxidants and phytochemicals, vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin B and minerals, carbohydrates

Origin & Cultivation of the Goji Berry

The goji berry comes from China and Asia. It has a long tradition as a medicinal plant and is an integral part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) . In Europe, the plant was first mentioned in writing in 1753 as ” Lyceum barbarum “.

The robust goji bush has spikes at the base and a strong trunk. It was mostly planted as an ornamental plant in gardens and parks. Little did they know that the bright red berries are also edible and that they are said to have healing powers. The pretty coral-red fruits can be harvested in late summer and autumn .

One of the largest growing areas is in Chinain the Ningxia region. In the Himalayan region around Tibet, the plants often still grow wild and are laboriously harvested by hand. But there are also many farmers in Germany who grow and sell goji berries . So you can find out directly on site how the goji berries are grown.

Here in Germany you get the “Tibetan lucky berries”, as the red goji berry is also called, mainly as small dried berries , tea or powder . But you can also get them as Goji fruit spread , Goji juice or in  capsules.

And how does the berry taste? The raw fruitstaste sour and tart , often simply bitter . The dried goji berries, on the other hand, are only slightly tart and rather sweet. Many compare the taste of the “lucky berries” to the typical taste of cranberries, dried cherries or figs.

Effect of goji berries

Healthy and happy with the goji berry. This is what the advertising with the superfood from Asia promises . But is it true that it can be used to reverse aging, help you lose weight and prevent numerous diseases?

The proof of their nutritional values ​​and numerous ingredients is considered to be fairly certain. The red fruits are true nutrient boosters , full of antioxidants and phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals and certain complex carbohydrates and amino acids.

Nutritional values ​​of the goji berry

  • Secondary plant substances: They reduce the risk of cancer , prevent heart attacks and strengthen the immune system .
  • Antioxidants: Goji berries are rich in antioxidants . They protect the cells and possibly slow down the aging process. That is why the small berries are said to have an anti-aging effect.
  • Vitamins: Goji berries contain plenty of vitamins, especially vitamin A in the form of beta-carotene. This strengthens the eyesight and supports the cells. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system. The high value of vitamin B protects the cells and strengthens the nerves.
  • Minerals & trace elements: The minerals and trace elements such as zinc and iron support blood formation, help with the oxygen supply and have a positive effect on the metabolism. Which is why the goji berry is also said to have a positive effect on diets.
  • Complex carbohydrates: The dried berry has a high proportion of carbohydrates, so its nutritional value is comparatively high. However, the carbohydrates are mainly polysaccharides , which have been shown in a European study to strengthen the immune system and promote a healthy intestinal flora.

The benefits of the goji berry summarized

  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Supports eyesight
  • Helps with digestion and a healthy gut
  • Supports weight loss
  • Slows down the aging process
  • Increases energy
  • Supports the nerves

Criticism of the goji berry

Critics of the superfood repeatedly comment on the alleged danger of the goji berry for health and its pollution and pesticides. Therefore we clarify the following questions for you:

Studies have found that the goji berry can trigger allergies and lead to cross-allergies. Therefore, allergy sufferers should be careful. Another point that comes up again and again: the goji berry has a reinforcing effect with blood thinners, such as those often taken by heart patients and high blood pressure patients , and this can lead to problems. Definitely ask your doctor.

How goji berries work in powder form or tablets has not been proven. Here the vitamin C is often added and does not come from the fruit itself. It is also difficult to check where the berries that are used come from. Therefore, it is better to reach for the fruit itself.

Do the superfood fruits contain many pollutants and pesticides?

There are always reports that products from China in particular are contaminated with pollutants and residues. These can also be organic products. So make sure that the fruits are organically certified and maybe even grow in Germany. This saves transport routes and is more sustainable.

Goji Berry Recipes

Dried goji berries can be nibbled or soaked as a snack and used like raisins.

Our suggestion: Sprinkle them over a green salad or a Buddha bowl . They taste great in couscous and rice dishes , are a decorative topping on soups and refine quark dishes and desserts .

We have also prepared two delicious recipes for you here:

Goji Tea Recipe

For 1 mug or tea glass:

  • Place 2 teaspoons of dried goji berries in a mug or glass.
  • Boil the water, pour the hot, but no longer boiling water over the berries.
  • Let the tea steep for 10-15 minutes .
  • Season the tea with cinnamon or sweeten with honey and drink.

Tip: You can eat the berries.

Goji berry muesli

For 1 portion:

  • Soak 30 g of oat flakes with 1 teaspoon of wheat bran in a little hot water.
  • Fold in 1 tablespoon chopped mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts).
  • Wash 1 apple , quarter, core, divide into wedges and cut into leaves. Add to muesli.
  • Stir in 100 g yoghurt or yoghurt substitute (e.g. made from coconut milk ).
  • Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of dried goji berries on top.

FAQs on goji berries

What are goji berries good for?

The small superfood fruit is a true nutrient miracle and has numerous positive properties – here is a small selection:

  • Strengthens eyesight
  • Supports the immune system
  • Protects against aging (anti-aging)
  • Strengthens the heart
  • Inhibits inflammation
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Has a mood-enhancing effect
  • Increases energy and vitality

Can you eat goji berries raw?

Yes, you can eat goji berries raw. You should make sure that the shrubs of the ” common wolfberry ” are cultivated plants and bear edible fruit. The fruits of ornamental plants are not suitable for consumption.

How does goji berry taste?

The fresh raw berries are too bitter for most people. When they are dried, the bitterness disappears a bit and the sweetness from the carbohydrates prevails. Most compare the taste to dried berries like cranberries, raisins or dried figs.

How many goji berries a day are good for me?

One should not eat too much of goji berries: 1 tablespoon to 1 handful (15-30 g) of dried fruit is sufficient for the positive effects of the lucky berries . For other products such as goji capsules , juice or fruit spreads, you should pay attention to the manufacturer’s information.

It is also often recommended to take a 1 week break from taking goji berries from time to time. It can be problematic if you have allergies . A study from Spain found that goji berries can cause allergies.

Where do goji berries come from?

The first mentions were found in the Himalayas near a monastery. But it has also long been an integral part of medicine in China . It probably came to Europe via Southeast Europe. The robust boxthorn bush is now growing all over the world. The fruits are also cultivated in Germany, e.g. in Lower Saxony.

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Written by Elizabeth Bailey

As a seasoned recipe developer and nutritionist, I offer creative and healthy recipe development. My recipes and photographs have been published in best selling cookbooks, blogs, and more. I specialize in creating, testing, and editing recipes until they perfectly provide a seamless, user-friendly experience for a variety of skill levels. I draw inspiration from all types of cuisines with a focus on healthy, well-rounded meals, baked goods and snacks. I have experience in all types of diets, with a specialty in restricted diets like paleo, keto, dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan. There is nothing I enjoy more than conceptualizing, preparing, and photographing beautiful, delicious, and healthy food.

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