Goji berries or wolfberries are spicy tasting berries that are often used to season food or drinks in Asia. It’s also mildly popular among Russians as a warming tea and medicinal herb for people with high blood pressure and respiratory problems.
What do goji berries taste like?
They have a taste that is somewhat tart, but with an aroma reminiscent of hot paprika and saffron, with a hint of cumin. Some people enjoy them whole and dried, but according to traditional users, this is not the best way to eat them. It is possible to overdose on some of the active chemicals, so it’s usually used as a spice or an addition to a tea.
One reason they’ve become trendy as a superfood is because they pack a powerful nutritional punch, and are reputed to help one to live longer and recover more quickly from illnesses. They seem to be nature’s equivalent of a multivitamin. They have a lot of vitamin C, iron, and are durable enough that drying and juicing doesn’t completely destroy them. They also grow fairly easily, and you can grow your own at home.
How should goji berries be used?
The problem is that like many foods that become fashionable, people misuse them, and end up either harming themselves or overusing them to the point that when they’re out of fashion, they’re abandonned. What westerners who are adding this to their diet need to know is that Asians and Russians who have been eating goji berries as a normal part of their diet, use it as more of a seasoning than a food. Some westerners are popping them like raisins and swallowing lots of the juice, and this is probably not the best idea.
Not enough scientific research has been done to say whether or not large amounts of goji berries are good for you. What has been done so far has shown that they can be a very powerful medicine. A little bit can go a long way. Another thing to consider is that goji berries are in the nightshade family. For those of you out there who are on ethnic diets that exclude or limit chile type peppers, potatoes, and other nightshades, goji berries are probably not less bad for you. They even taste like a kind of sweet pepper.
I learned to use goji berries in cooking from some Russian friends. They say that people are not supposed to eat more than the equivalent of three per day, and that quantity as a medicine. You put one berry in your tea and have it three times a day for high blood pressure, or when you have a cold or flu, and that’s it. In a recipe, three to five berries is enough to season a whole casserole dish.
Click here for a tasty recipe for chicken gizzards with goji berry sauce.
Goji berries might help you quit or reduce your smoking.
One interesting thing that an older lady told me is that it’s helpful when you’re quitting or reducing smoking. This could be because they are an aromatic nightshade, and contain some nicotine. So they can help reduce the craving for tobacco, and provide a natural source of nicotine for those who use it to suppress appetite or boost energy. It’s also a very good reason to be careful of it. Some of the feel-good effect overusers of goji berries might be experiencing could be due to their mood altering properties rather than just the nutrition and other medicinal benefits.
From personal experience, I know it doesn’t take much for the stuff to get to your blood. The first time I tasted them, I ate one berry at the shop in the market, and the smell was in my sweat later that day. I also didn’t feel the usual fatigue I get after a trip to the market. I’m one of the few women on earth who does not enjoy shopping, so between the shopping itself, plus the walking and heavy lifting involved with a trip to the market, I’m usually spent by the time I get home. This time though, I didn’t seem as drained as usual, and this is from just one dried berry.
Yes, it’s anecdotal, but interesting enough to get me to try it again the next time I know I’m going to do something that usually wears me out. If and only if you don’t have a problem with peppers or other nightshade family plants, try goji berries out, but again, be careful. Don’t overdo it.
Nutrients and Other Chemicals
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries or by their Latin name, lycium barbarum contain a good balance of polysaccharides such as amylose and amylopectin. They also have a natural oil that is reputedly good for the skin in small amounts. Like many essential oils, it’s too strong to be used straight.
They’ve been said to have 500 times the vitamin C of oranges, but this is likely untrue. According to most of the source companies, their vitamin C content is about the same or maybe a bit more than the average citrus fruit or chile type pepper. It varies sometimes from berry to berry, or depending on when and where they were grown or picked.
According to Qingdao BNP Co. Ltd:
Wolfberry(Goji) rich of wolfberry polysaccharides(amylose),Betaine,zeaxanthine,physalein,Ascorbic acid,Carotene,Riboflavin,Nicotine,Thiamine,taurine,Vitamine E,Vitamin C,Vitamin B1,Vitamin B2,content of Vitamin C same as orange,and wolfberry contain 19 kinds of amino acid,and K,Na,Ca,Mg,Fe,Cu,Mn,Zn,Se,21 kinds of minerals,and the concentration of Beta-carotene in wolfberry even higher than carrot,effect protein concentration more than bee pollen. Every 100g fresh wolfberry contain crude protein 5.8g,wolfberry fat 1g,Calcium 155mg,phosphor 67mg,Fe 3.4mg,carotene 3.96mg,Vitamine B 10.23mg,Vitamine C 3mg; Betaine about 1%.
Goji berries could be a nice addition to your diet, but use them with caution. For some people, they can be a lifesaver, but if you have to avoid nightshade type plants, you should definitely avoid goji berries. I’d say buy a small amount, or take a few from someone else who bought some. Take a half a berry, and if you’re okay or it does you some good, try a whole one.
People who might want to be careful are those whose ancestry is mostly people who did not eat nightshade plants, anyone with CFS (chronic fatique syndrome) or fibromyalgia.Tags: antioxidants, asian, berries, blood pressure, exotic, flu fighter, goji, goji berries, goji berry, iron, russian, seasoning, spice, spices, superfood, superfoods, tea, vitamin c