Tuesday, July 3, 2007

What are Goji Berries?

So, I'm on my routine weekly trip to Whole Foods, this is a few months ago and I stumbled upon a package that said "Himalayan Goji Berries". I had heard of Goji berries and Goji juice before but I didn't know a lot about them or what they were.
Ok, first off you're shaking your head right now, to the first statement of my "Weekly" trip to Whole Foods. You're right, It was on one of my 3-4 per week trips. haha.

So, Goji berries. I pick up the package and they look very scrumptious, kind of like a raisin but a ripe tomato color. So, being the foodie and experimentalist that I am, I bought a package.

I got home and tried them and they were definitely the most unique fruit or berry i had tried, the taste was like nothing else. Sweet yet tart, but again, it has its own flavor so I can't compare it to anything. Well, being the researcher that I am, I wanted to find out more about this new berry that I had discovered so I did some searching and of course, I HAVE to share it with you!

Goji berries (Other Names: Lycium barbarum, wolfberry, gou qi zi, Fructus lycii)
grow on an evergreen shrub found in temperate and subtropical regions in China, Mongolia and in the Himalayas in Tibet. They are in the nightshade (Solonaceae) family.
Goji berries are usually found dried. They are shriveled red berries that look like red raisins.

Goji berries have been used for 6,000 years by herbalists in China, Tibet and India to:

* protect the liver
* help eyesight
* improve sexual function and fertility
* strengthen the legs
* boost immune function
* improve circulation
* promote longevity

Goji berries are rich in antioxidants, particularly carotenoids such as beta-carotene and zeaxanthin.
One of zeaxanthin's key roles is to protect the retina of the eye by absorbing blue light and acting as an antioxidant. In fact, increased intake of foods containing zeathanthin may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65.
In recent years, goji juice has become popular as a health beverage.

A Chinese study published in the Chinese Journal of Oncology in 1994 found that 79 people with cancer responded better to treatment when goji was added to their regimen.

There have been several test tube studies that show that goji berry contains antioxidants and that goji extracts may prevent the growth of cancer cells, reduce blood glucose, and lower cholesterol levels.

Goji berries are certainly one of the most nutrient-dense foods there is availabe.

I definitely have been enjoying these berries at home, and they come in small snack size packs so I like to take them with me on the road or hiking. Great for mixing with nuts like almonds and walnuts and making a trail mix.
They seem to be popping up more often but I have been buying mine only at Whole Foods.
So keep an eye out and if you see some, pick them up and give them a go. You might have found a new accessory to your diet as did I and I think Goji's are in it for good!



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