Native to the Himalayan Mountains of Tibet and Mongolia, goji berries have been used for thousands of years in Tibet and China as a food and medicine. Goji berries are considered the “most nutritionally dense fruit on Earth!” They’re very high in antioxidants, protein, vitamin C, and iron. This superfood (and superfruit!) is also a complete protein and contains all essential amino acids, making it very unique among fruits.
A 1 oz. serving of goji berries contains about 100 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, 140% of your daily value of vitamin A, 20% of vitamin C, and 10% of iron.
Although they’ve been used in the far East for over 2,000 years, goji berries have only just recently begun to gain popularity among the natural health community in the West – and for good reason! Here are 5 reasons why you should join the club and try adding goji berries to your diet:
- Energy and Strength
Known as one of Asia’s most powerful adaptogens, goji berries are reported to increase stamina and endurance, and helps to eliminate fatigue, especially when recovering from illness. Their high vitamin content, specifically B1, B2, B6 and E, help the body in breaking down amino acids and fats, and converting carbs into energy.
- Kidney Health
Goji berries have long been used to support healthy kidney function. They reduce the amount of stress put on the kidney as the body flushes wastes and toxins from the body. Goji berries are also antibacterial, which helps the kidney resist damage caused by free radicals and other toxins that can accumulate in the body when kidney function is compromised.
Goji can lower bad cholesterol levels and protect the heart from disease. The high antioxidant content may contribute to keeping cholesterol from oxidizing and forming plaque and the flavonoids support healthy circulation. Research is also being done on how the master molecule polysaccharides in Goji berries may help to keep blood pressure within the normal range.
Since ancient times Goji berries have been very popular for supporting normal vision health. They are a great source of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A by the liver. Beta-carotene has been shown to improve the eye’s ability to adapt to dim light and prevent cataracts.
- General Health Support
Superoxide is one of the most damaging free radicals in the body and can only be neutralized by the enzyme, superoxide dismutase (SOD). As we get older, we produce less SOD and thus, must supplement our bodies with this enzyme. Goji berries have been shown to actually increase SOD activity in the body, making them very important for replenishing the body’s antioxidant defenses.
How to Eat Goji Berries
Goji berries are dried fruits that resemble raisins in texture. They’re mildly tangy with a slight sweet and sour taste. They’re a great snack food, either to be eaten on their own or sprinkled on top of yogurt, oatmeal, smoothies, or trail mix. They can also be added to muffins, cookies, pancake or waffle batter, or any place you would normally use raisins.
The recommended daily serving is about a handful of berries, so as with anything, don’t go overboard and moderation is key.
Where to Buy Goji Berries
Goji berries have gained much popularity in recent years and can be found in many local markets, especially Asian markets. They’re admittedly a bit on the expensive side, but a little goes a long way, so a bag will last you quite a while. Your local health food store, like Healthy Planet, will also carry them. You can also order them online at Healthy Planet, and this month until June 5th, 2013 you can buy the Ethnoscience Organic Gojii Berries 500g bag for just $19.99 – that’s 20% off the regular price!
Have you discovered the wonderful world of goji berries yet? What’s your favorite way to use this tasty superfruit?
Image: Praisaeng / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
About the Author:
Sarah UmmYousef is a former school teacher turned stay-at-home wife and mama with a passion for all things simple, natural, and homemade. She loves the natural world, and believes the solutions to many of the world’s ailments lie in nature. Her blog, Nature’s Nurture, began as a way to document her family’s journey to a greener home, but has since become a thriving community and resource for those wishing to take small steps towards a more eco-friendly, natural and sustainable lifestyle. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.