Goji Berries

Goji berries, also known as wolfberries or by their scientific name of Lycium barbarum, are a reddish-orange berry with a sweet and sour flavor. One variety of goji berries tastes almost like a tomato while another leans more toward the tangy side of the berry family—closer to a cranberry. Goji berries have long been used as a central ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and the vast majority of goji berries sold in the United States are dried and imported from China.

What Are Goji Berries?

Indigenous to Asia, goji berries grow on vines and look a bit like tiny grape tomatoes; like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, they belong to the nightshade family. Goji berries aren't easy to find fresh in the United States, though. When you do come across them, you can expect to pay a hefty price.

How to Use Goji Berries

Dried goji berries are readily available and easy to use in smoothies and raw vegan elixirs. If you don't have a powerful blender, you may want to rehydrate them first in a little water or apple juice to soften them before you blend them. Goji berry powder is also available and can be stirred directly into juices, herbal teas, or even just water.

Dried goji berries make a sweet and tangy topping for desserts or breakfast bowls, can be added to baked goods ranging from cupcakes to homemade energy bars, and add a punch of flavor and texture to granola. They make an interesting addition to trail mix, add a wonderful zest to a salad, and give flavor and texture to everything from salsas to soups and casseroles.

What Do They Taste Like?

The dried goji berries frequently found in health food stores are generally the more berry-flavored variety, although you wouldn't call them sweet. The flavor is tart and sour, kind of like a cranberry, with an almost herbal note. Dried goji berries should be chewy but still just slightly soft. The higher water content of fresh goji berries dilutes its tartness, less like cranberry flavor, and a more like tomato flavor.

Nutrition and Benefits

Goji berries are high in antioxidants, giving them anti-inflammatory properties and helping to protect the body from free radicals. A 1-ounce serving contains 4 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber, plus all nine of the essential amino acids humans don't produce and thus need to obtain from food sources.

In traditional Chinese medicine, goji tea is used as an immune-boosting tonic and blood-health tonic. Goji berries are frequently touted for their anti-aging properties as well,

Have you been wondering about the health benefits of goji berries and goji juice? Some claim that the goji berry is a fountain of youth

Over time, people have used goji berries to try to treat many common health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, and age-related eye problems. Goji berries, which some brand a “superfood,” are eaten raw, cooked, or dried (like raisins) and are used in herbal teas, juices, wines, and medicines.

Health Benefits of Goji Berries

Goji berries are rich in nutrients. Some early studies using goji berry juice found possible benefits that included:

Many berries are good for you. It's not clear whether goji berries are better than other types of berries or if goji berry supplements would have the same health benefits as the berries themselves.

Goji Berry Nutrition

Goji berries offer plenty of vitamins and minerals such as:

They’re also a good source of protein and antioxidants.

Goji Berry Risks and Side Effects

Goji berries could interact with some drugs. If you take warfarin (a blood thinner), you may want to avoid them. Goji berries may also interact with diabetes drugs and blood pressure drugs, so talk with your doctor first.

Otherwise, it's probably safe to eat goji berries in moderation.

Check with your doctor before taking any diet supplements.