Raw Goji Berries are like the Mighty Mites of the superfood kingdom. They’re tiny red vessels of dense nutritional goodness with a vibrant flavor and an extensive inventory of health benefits. Acclaimed as the most nutritionally dense fruit on earth, the goji berry packs a potent dose of antioxidants, complete protein and essential vitamins and minerals into each serving.
The goji berry, while now quite popular in the west, is a native fruit to the Himalayan mountain region of Tibet and Mongolia. Within these native regions it has been used for both medicinal and culinary purposes for more than 2,000 years.
Also called the “wolfberry fruit,” goji berries are highly regarded in traditional Chinese Medicine with their first use recorded around 200 BCE in the oldest known book to detail the use of Chinese herbs.
As one of the top 120 species graded and recorded in this book, the goji berry was hailed for its extraordinary health benefits, which included its ability to prolong life, strengthen the body and ease the body through seasonal change (Bucheli et al., 2011). Since it’s first recorded uses, goji berries have maintained a prominent role in many Chinese medicine therapies, used specifically for their impact on the liver and kidney “channels” or energy pathways in the body (2011).
In the past 30 years the goji berry has surfaced in U.S. and other western countries both on consumer shelves and as the subject of extensive scientific research. Not without significant acclaim to its historical medicinal uses, current research on the goji berry has highlighted its noteworthy antioxidant qualities amongst many other noteworthy health benefits and advanced the ancient fruit to the top of the modern superfood list.
Goji Berries Nutritional Benefits include:
Many components of the goji berry have been found to function as potent antioxidants. Significant amounts of carotenoids, vitamin C and Lycium Barbarum Polysaccharides (LBP) found in the berries, have been shown to decrease oxidative stress on the body, decrease free-radical activity and protect against oxidative activity in skeletal muscles that can be caused by exhaustive exercise (2011). Additional antioxidants including zeaxanthin and polyphenols contribute to the goji berry’s potent antioxidant effects. Antioxidants like the ones found in the goji berry have been associated with decreased risk of cancerous cell growth, heart disease and other degenerative disease processes.
Unlike most other fruits, goji berries contain all nine essential amino acids, which makes them a good plant-based source of complete protein.
These naturally occurring compounds give red, orange and yellow hues to many foods. Their primary function lies in their capacity to convert to vitamin A in the body, which is important for vision, cell differentiation, immune function, reproduction and normal growth. Additionally carotenoids play an antioxidant role, help boost immune function and may help prevent cancer (Insel et al., 2013). Goji berries are thought to contain more carotenoids than any other known natural food.
21 trace minerals have been identified in goji berries, including iron, calcium, selenium and zinc. Trace minerals are essential for almost all cellular functions including the maintenance of fluid and PH balance and the transmission of communicative signals throughout the body. Iron is one of the most commonly deficient trace minerals despite its crucial roles in oxygen transportation, energy metabolism and immune function. Goji berries are one of the more iron-rich plant foods, providing a reliable source of this essential mineral for individuals who don’t eat much (if any) iron-rich animal proteins.
Antioxidants and other compounds in goji berries have shown significant anti-inflammatory as well as anti-bacterial and anti-fungal effects.
Vitamin C, zinc, iron, selenium and the lengthy list of antioxidnats in the goji berry help promote healthy and efficient immune response.
Ancient Medicinal Effects
While results from many clinical research trials on the effects of goji berries on liver and kidney health remain inconclusive, historical use and some preliminary data suggest the effects that Chinese Medicine has attributed to goji berries are valid. A recent clinical study on the general effects of regular goji juice consumption suggests that it may impart sensations of general well-being, neurological and psychological improvement, and improved gastrointestinal function (Amagase & Nance, 2008).
Enjoy Goji Berries
There’s no shortage of reasons why this ancient little fruit is one of the most potent superfoods in the world. The fact that they’re an incredibly delicious and vibrantly beautiful food is just icing on the cake. When dried at low-temperatures like the raw goji berries from Essential Living Foods, their earthy-sweet and lively flavor is accentuated without compromising any of the fruit’s natural nutrient profile. Grab a handful as an easy on-the-go snack or toss them into salads or baked goods. Goji berries work well in place of raisins or currants in many recipes, plus they add a boost of beautiful color