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Goji Berries And Their Antioxidants

Apr 10, 2008
Forty or more different types of Goji Berries, also known as the Chinese Wolfberry or Snowberry, are known and can be found throughout the world. Gojis are of the boxthorn species in the family which contains such culinary favorites as the potato, tomato, eggplant, and chili. Many other colorful names have been associated with this incredible plant over the years from Barbary Matrimony Vine to Argyll's Tea Tree.

Long considered as both a nutritious food and as a medicinal plant, legend has it that the renowned Chinese herbalist, agriculturalist, and first emperor Shen Nung discovered the power of Goji berries in about 2800 BC. Use in Chinese medicine has been documented for over 1900 years.

So, why is the western world just learning of this incredible antioxidant in the 21st century? Commercially available Goji berries have been only locally harvested in the northern regions of China until recently. Organic means of producing the fruits are becoming widely available and the dried fruits hold their healthful qualities well during shipment. Most Gojis are ground shipped rather than flown to maintain nutrients. The most sought after species are known as Tibetan or Himalayan Goji berries.

All are considered Super-foods containing more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable. In fact, the humble Goji berry contains nearly 5 times the antioxidants than dried prunes. Antioxidants are measured on the Oxygen Radical Absorbency Capacity (ORAC) scale which is used to measure a food's ability to absorb free radicals.

While prunes weigh at between 5,000-6,000 ORAC units, Goji berries can boast over 25,000 units. Many articles have been written about the power of broccoli as a great antioxidant, yet this highly touted vegetable contains a mere 900 ORAC units - 25 times less than the Goji Berry!

What about calcium? The Goji berry has oranges beat hands down. In fact, in terms of total nutrition, Goji berries have more beta-carotene than carrots and more iron than can be found in choice cuts of red meat.

B vitamins and antioxidants decrease the risks of cancers, including serious skin cancers, and heart attack. Polysaccharides, known to enhance the body's immune system, abound in Goji berries, which also contain an abundance of amino acids.

Goji berries and Goji juice are flavorful, as well. Somewhere between a dried cherry and a cranberry, these fruits are not heavy like prunes or raisins. They are light and crunchy making them a great alternative when it comes to getting the recommended 5 servings of fruit and veggies per day. They fit easily in a purse, briefcase, or lunchbox - perfect for people on the go.

The berries are wonderful eaten as dried fruit, but are excellent additions to trail mixes, cereals, breads, pancakes, and muffins. They can be used instead of raisins, blueberries, dates, cranberries, or other fruits in any recipe. Chinese recipes call for them in many fish, soup, and vegetable dishes. Goji tea is also considered a wonderful soothing drink.

If you have a true sweet tooth, try adding Gojis to homemade rice crisp bars. Another fun homemade treat is to add them to salty snack mixes made with cereal squares and Worcestershire sauce. Gojis have a nutty, fruity taste that is not too sweet.

Whether you try Goji berries as a stand-alone snack, in cooking, or as a great juice pick-me-up, the health benefits are not to be missed. It is rumored that Gojis also improve libido, but, that is something best left to the individual Goji user to determine.
About the Author
Arthur Martin has been in the whole food industry for many years, and is an expert on using natural foods to improve health. To find out more about Goji Berries and their health benefits, visit his site.
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