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Goji berry - Do We Really Need to Add Another Berry to The Mix?

Goji berry - Do We Really Need to Add Another Berry to The Mix?

Topping the charts in health food circle, is the new star berry, the GOJIBERRY!

Goji berries are beautiful dark red berries of a thorny Asian shrub. They are mostly dried, and used in beverages. These mildly sour and tangy berries are making waves with health enthusiasts around the world. Time to check what the fuss is all about.


The Plant

Goji berries grow on a shrub of the nightshade family. Many popular vegetables and fruits grow on nightshade plants, such as potato, tomato, capsicum peppers, tobacco, etc. There are many other members of this plant family which are known to be highly poisonous. The goji berry shrubs are safe. They can grow up to a 5 feet high. The dark deep red berries of the shrub spring from bright funnel-shaped purple flowers. 

Food Fact 1: It is little known that these beautiful deep red berries, initially have an orange hue. With maturity they slowly change to their well-known red colour!

Devouring the Berry

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, taste a tad bit bitter, mildly tart, and leave a distinct sweet after-taste. In fact, they are similar to sweet cherry tomatoes when rehydrated.

Image source: Heathline

There are many fun ways to experiment with the Goji berry based snacks. If you plan to devour them raw, go ahead and just pop them in mouth directly. But don’t forget to eat them in moderation; more on that, in a bit. Goji berries can also be juiced and used to make tasty mocktails and beverages. If you are thinking of a nice warm drink, you can add a few berries in a cup of warm water till they soften. Then enjoy drinking the Goji berry tea that is loaded with antioxidants. If hot is not your thing, soak the berries for about 10 minutes to soften them, and then mix them up with yogurt and ice to make a healthy smoothie. Yum! But the all time favourite use for the berries is to simply add dried goji berries to your trail mix.

The Healing

Tales of health benefits of the Asian berries need no mention to socially savvy, health freaks out there. Fitness brands and health bloggers are raging about them.

The history of Goji berries as a medicinal plant has roots in ancient China. There, it is said that goji berries can treat eye, liver, and kidney ailments. This belief comes from the fact that goji berries are a rich source of vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin C, fibre, Iron, Vitamin A, Zinc, and many antioxidants. These nutrients definitely have proven health benefits and can greatly improve vitality. These vitamins boost immune system and protect from flu.

One study suggests that these berries contain all 8 essential amino acids. And that a single, 4 ounce serving provides about 10 percent of your daily protein requirement. For a fruit, isn’t this amount of protein amazing? The study also suggests that the carbohydrates in these berries are complex carbs. Therefore, blood sugar doesn’t rise suddenly, and the risk of a sugar crash afterwards is reduced.  These low-calorie and low-sugar berries can substitute other dried fruits with higher sugar content. 

Food Fact 2: One ounce serving of goji berries has only 23 calories. 

But are goji berries for everyone?

While the presence of vitamins and antioxidants in goji berries is undeniable, is the hype really worth it? Some research suggests that goji berries are not for everyone. Goji berries should ideally be avoided for people with low blood sugar, and those who use blood thinners, have low or high blood pressure, are breastfeeding or pregnant, or have had an allergic to the fruit before.

Food Fact 3: A quarter cup of goji berries provides 340 percent of human recommended intake for vitamin A. Too much goji berries can lead to the risk of vitamin A toxicity. 

So do we really need to add another berry to the mix?

Many brands market goji berries as a superfood. Some industry studies have reported that, people who consumed goji berry juice daily, for a test period of 14 days, experienced an increase in energy, athletic performance, quality of sleep, ability to focus, calmness, and overall well-being compared to those who didn’t.

They also reported improvement in fatigue, stress, and digestion issues. Other studies have proved goji berries can increase life expectancy, lower heart risks, lower blood pressure, reduce arthritis pain, and even treat cancer tumours as the beta-sitosterol in goji berries can decrease the size of overgrown cells and can kill tumour cells.

However, the National Health Services (NHS) in the United Kingdom states that these studies are not credible, and they fail to give any conclusive and significant results. Also, goji berries can be more expensive and scarcely available outside their land of origin.

So do we really need to add another berry to the mix? The answer is not really. While Goji berries are a rich source of nutrients, there are alternates that are less expensive and readily available. The NHS recommends, berries like strawberries and blueberries, bell peppers, tropical fruits, and dark leafy greens, wheatgrass for maintaining weight loss, pomegranate juice, oily fish, or green tea, if you can’t add goji berries to your diet.

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Sources:

https://www.alternet.org/food/why-you-dont-need-kale-and-goji-berries-achieve-optimal-health

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-10-14/mythbusting-superfoods-how-marketing-obscures-science/7928668

https://www.bulkapothecary.com/blog/essential-oil-benefits/the-ancient-chinese-history-of-the-goji-berry/

https://www.healthline.com/health/goji-berry-facts#overview1

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/goji-berry.html