Every time I think of goji berries I remember discovering the funny “Inappropriate Yoga Guy” video skit above. I still laugh every time his booming voice sings “GOooooJiiii Berries!!” to the classroom. Goji berries have a stereotype of being “hippy-dippy” and only for health nuts. But recently their popularity has started to catch on and it’s “super-fruit” status has gained notoriety outside the yoga room.
So What Exactly is a Goji Berry? A goji berry (sometimes called a wolf berry) is a berry that grows on shrubs (Lycium barb arum), usually found in the Himalayas and other sub-tropical regions such as the Mongolian region of China. Goji’s are raw, vegan, gluten and dairy free. They are usually sun-dried or factory dried at low temperatures to preserve as many nutrients as possible. They look like a small red raisin with a slightly sweet, slightly tart flavor with a bitter finishing note. When chewed, the berries break down and turn everything orange (that’s how much beta-carotene is in them!).
Goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, but only recently have they gained extensive media attention in North America for their reported health benefits. Traditionally the fruit and roots of the plant have been used for treating diabetes, hypertension, fever, malaria, and even preventing cancer – although evidence of its effectiveness remains scant. However, from a nutrition standpoint, goji berries, like many other berries, pack a powerful punch. They are low in calories, fat-free, and loaded with fiber, beta-carotene and vitamin C. Goji berries proclaimed health benefits include:
Goji Berry Benefits:
- Developing a stronger immune system.
- Delivering forceful anti-aging properties.
- Brightening and improving eyesight.
- Nourishing liver and kidneys.
- Normalizing blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Assisting weight loss.
- Lowering cholesterol.
- Slowing hair loss and graying.
- Antioxidants that help fight off free radicals in the body.
- Source of 18 different amino acids (the building blocks to protein).
Goji Berries have about 20 different vitamins and minerals, making it one of the most nutritionally dense foods on earth. Which is probably why it has so many great health benefits and has been proclaimed a “SUPER Fruit”. The nutrition facts of 1 ounce of goji berries are as follows:
1 ounce of Goji Berries contains:
Trans Fat: 0g
Saturated Fat: 0g
Vitamin A: 140%
Vitamin C: 20%
(based on a 2,000 calorie diet)
Because of the goji berry’s chewy texture and t taste, many have found them as a healthy replacement to gummy bears, red vines, and other sugary vices. I love having a handful as an afternoon snack, its the perfect recipe for a mid-day pick me up. Here are other ways to include Goji berries into your diet:
Healthy ways to enjoy the Gojiiiiii Berry:
- Add a handful of dried goji berries to a morning smoothie – they pair well with sweet fruit such as kiwi, mango and peaches.
- Sprinkle goji berries on a bowl of hot oatmeal for a delicious morning meal.
- Make your own goji berry juice by blending a handful of rehydrated dried goji berries with ice water. Add a few sprigs of mint, and a drizzle of honey for a refreshing twist.
- Add dried goji barriers to a fresh spinach salad with water-packed tuna and shredded carrots.
- Sprinkle dried goji berries on a bowl of lentil soup for a nutrient boost.
- Add a splash of colour to a chicken stir-fry by adding some dried goji-berries prior to serving.
- Dried goji berries are a tasty addition to any whole grain pilaf.
- Make your own trail mix by combining equal parts dried goji berries, raisins, roasted almonds and cashews.
- Add goji berries in place of raisins to you favourite low fat cookie, quick bread or muffin recipe.
- Make your own goji-pops by blending goji berries with low fat yogurt and pure fruit juice. Pour into popsicle moulds and enjoy on a hot summer’s day!
If you feel like cooking up a treat with goji’s here are some delicious recipes from around the web:
- Vegan Chocolate Goji Berry Green Smoothie from Blender Babes.
- Goji Berry Power Bars from Elena’s Pantry
- Kale Salad with Goji Berries and Maple Roasted Almonds from Daily Bites Blog
- Ironman coco nut bars from Allison Nichols at Frisky Lemon
- Banana Bites from Zest and Zeal (super easy great snack!)
- Coconut and Pecan Granola from the Healthy Family and Home
YUM!! Now I bet you’re eager to get your hands on some goji berries right? You can find Goji berries in most health food stores or higher end grocery stores with a natural foods section. They are not the cheapst health food find, typically a 1 lb bag runs around $18 bucks (hey Im a big believer that your health is worth the extra spend on nutrition). You can purchase them online at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Navitas-Naturals-Berries-16-Ounce-Pouches/dp/B000FFLHSY or simply by doing a Google search. Navitas Naturals is the brand that I prefer and I also love getting a regular supply from the bulk section at Whole Foods.
While goji berries are delicious and nutritious, remember they aren’t a silver bullet or cure-all. You’re best off enjoying these berries, like all berries, in moderation as part of a well balanced diet to get maximum health benefits 🙂
Do you eat goji berries? What is your favorite way to include them into your diet? If you liked this post, feel free to share it with your friends on Facebook, twitter, or email. More great content is headed your way every week to help you live a happy, healthy life!
Yours in health and happiness,
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