Go-go-goji berry! Everything you need to know about this deliciously sour superfood
Goji berries are gaining popularity as a superfood - but they’re so much more than that! They’ve also been used therapeutically for more than 2000 years in traditional Chinese medicine. Read on to learn more about these beautiful, tasty medicinal morsels and how to add some of their goodness into your life.
What are goji berries?
Goji berries are grown commonly in the northwest regions of China, Tibet and some other parts of Asia.
Also known as Gou Qi or wolfberry, goji berries grow on two related plants whose botanical names are Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum. They belong to the Solanaceae or nightshade family of plants, which also includes tomatoes, eggplants, chilli, capsicum and potatoes.1
Why are goji berries a ‘superfood’?
A superfood is any nutrient-dense food that provides health benefits. Goji berries are famous for being a great source of antioxidants – helping to reduce free radicals that can cause damage to the body’s cells. Without good levels of antioxidants in the diet, the body can succumb to the damage caused by free radicals.
Goji berries are made up of carbohydrates, protein, fat and fibre and include the following nutrients:2
- Vitamin C
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Antioxidants betacarotene and zeaxanthin
How to include goji berries in your diet
The naturally sour flavour of goji berries makes them a popular addition to sweeter snacks such as trail mixes, muesli and chocolates. They’re also great in smoothies, fresh juices, salads, sprinkled over porridge, or as a healthy snack all on their own.
Adding goji berries to homemade treats such as goji berry muffins and protein balls has become a popular way to incorporate them into the diet.
If you’re looking for something more savoury, try this goji berry fried rice recipe or add them into a congee.
The use of goji berries in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM)
While goji berries have only recently been introduced as a popular snack in Western culture, Asian cultures have been growing and consuming these little red berries for thousands of years.
The role of the kidneys in TCM cannot be understated. Kidneys are not only considered vital to the balance of fluids and removal of waste from the body, they’re also vital to the function of all the organs of the body.
Goji berries are traditionally used in Chinese medicine to nourish and strengthen Jing and support kidney health, as well as to help to regulate the body’s fluids. In TCM, goji berries are also traditionally used to relieve feelings of fatigue
In Chinese medicine, the health of the kidney organ-meridian system plays a key role in healthy ageing. In addition to being traditionally used as a kidney tonic, goji berries are also traditionally used in TCM to promote longevity and vitality.
Their long history of traditional use for this purpose is illustrated in an old Chinese fable that tells of a stranger who encountered a pretty young woman and a feeble old man walking in the mountains.
'Why are you with this old man?' the stranger asked the woman. 'Oh, him?' she replied, 'He's my grandson. We look like this because I eat goji berries and he doesn't'.
We're quite sure that taking goji won't make you look younger than your grandchildren, but we love these antioxidant-rich berries anyway here at Fusion Health!
In Chinese medicine, the liver is responsible for the smooth flow of blood and Qi (life force energy) throughout the body. From time to time, the liver can become imbalanced and lacking in nourishment.
Goji berries are one of the key ingredients in Fusion Liver Tonic, due to their traditional use in Chinese medicine for nourishing the liver and enhancing blood health. In this formula they’re accompanied by schisandra to support liver health and citrus peel to maintain the liver’s natural detoxification processes, both based on their traditional use in Chinese medicine. Fusion Liver Tonic also contains milk thistle, which is traditionally used to improve liver health in Western herbal medicine.
- Ma Z F, et al. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, 2019.
- Roy CC, et al. Nutr Clin Pract 2016;4:351-366.