The Goji berry goes by many names including Wolfberry here in North America and gou qi zi in China. The majority of commercially produced berries come from Asia, but especially China. As they are grown so far away, they often arrive to us here in North America in a dried form.
|Dried Goji Berries|
When it is not dried, the fruit is a bright orange shiny berry with a taut skin. Each berry is about half an inch in length and slightly oval shaped. The dried ones look like very large raisins and they can vary in hue from bright gold to dark red.
The raw berries have a very tangy, sweet and sour taste that is a bit like lemon. However once they are dried the fruit loses its sharpness and tastes like a very tasty raisin.
The Nutritional Benefits of the Goji Berry
Goji berries are called the anti-aging superfruit because they contain selenium, which is so nourishing for the skin and nerves and also a potent nutrient for skin regeneration.
Goji berries are also a rarity nutritionally because they are an excellent vegan source of high protein. Protein, in fact, makes up almost 16 percent of the fruit’s composition making this an ideal snack for dieters. Goji berries are also rich in other nutrients and phytochemicals like amino acids, carotenoids like beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, polysaccharides, antioxidants, calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, and riboflavin.
However it is really Goji berries turn to shine when it comes to polysacchrides. These are agents that are an exceptional source of essential cell sugars that can help your cells communicate more effectively with each other. This helps slow down the aging process. These polysacchrides also lower blood sugar and blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
The Health Benefits of "Going Goji"
Goji berries have been used for 600 years by herbalists in China and Tibet to protect the liver, improve eyesight, improve sexual function, sustain fertility, strengthen the legs, boost immunity, boost circulation and restore youth.
The high antioxidant content in Goji berries supports brain function. Compounds in Goji berries fight narrowing of the arteries and supply the body with generous amounts of choline, which is an essential nutrient that combats Alzheimer’s disease
It is the beta-carotene and zeaxanthin that are of particular benefit to the eyesight as both compounds prevent macular degeneration which is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65 years of age.
It is a great idea to snack on Goji berries in the winter during cold and flu season. Yet another benefit of the high protein content is that it boosts the functioning of white blood cells by 300 percent making it more difficult to catch the flu or other air or water-borne viruses.
How to Find and Prepare Goji Berries
Whole Goji berries can be found at Chinese herbal shops and health food stores. The dried berries can be found in most grocery stores nowadays. The reason they are sold mostly dried is because the raw berry is very delicate and sometimes does not survive shipping.
The raw berries may be sold on branches or with stems to preserve their freshness in which case it is suggested you separate the fruit from the stem and wash very carefully.
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