erries are nutritional powerhouses, but goji berries, also known as wolfberries, go to the head of the class when it comes to being a superfood. They were used medicinally and for culinary purposes for over 2,000 years. Traditional Chinese medicine utilized them to keep the mind and body healthy, particularly the eyes, liver and kidneys. Research shows that these little orange-red berries contain all eight essential amino acids; are good sources of vitamin C, fiber, iron, vitamin A, zinc, and antioxidants; and deliver a host of benefits.
The secret can be found in the berry’s phytochemicals. They include polysaccharides which provide immunity support and zeaxanthin that can prevent macular degeneration. The American Academy of Optometry states that goji berries have high levels of antioxidants and the highest amount of beta-carotene of all edible plants, which supports eye, bone and skin health, and cell development which could also have anti-aging benefits.
Goji berries also provide the most protein of any other fruit along with antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. A Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine study found that drinking goji berry juice may increase energy, improve your quality of sleep, and improve your focus and general well-being. A study cited in the Drug Design, Development and Therapy Journal found that they might even protect against cancer and slow tumor growth.
Goji berries are a member of the nightshade family. You can eat them raw, cooked, or dried. The dried berries have a sweet, slightly sour taste, and they can be found in most supermarkets. Use them in baked goods, on salads, or in any dish you would use raisins in. Fresh berries, which are more sour than sweet, are harder to find. They can be used in teas or smoothies. Both are low in sugar and high in fiber.
Side effects of the berries can include mild digestive issues when you first begin eating them. Though they taste sweet, they can potentially lower your blood sugar. Don’t eat them if your blood sugar is already low. Avoid eating them if you have high or low blood pressure, using blood thinners, or are breastfeeding or pregnant as they can cause miscarriage. Eating too many can cause vitamin A toxicity, so eat in moderation. As with any supplement, talk to your doctor before consuming. ■