Goji Berries Nutrition
History has it that circa 1730, a gentleman by the name of Archibald Campbell, the 3rd Duke of Argyll (an old family of Scottish nobility) and an ardent gardener, imported many exotic plant species into Britain. One of these was a shrub from the Far East that was subsequently after him: the Duke of Argyll’s tea. Today, this shrub is more commonly known as wolfberry or the goji berry.
The word goji is a derivative of the Chinese language’s name for this berry where as wolfberry is the common English name for the same fruit. The origin of this berry can be traced to China although it has a traditional range that includes Mongolia, Tibet, Himalayas and even into parts of southern Europe. Books written on the plant life of these areas tell us the inhabitants have known of goji berries nutrition for centuries.
The goji berry is a shrub that has a tendency to spread like a vine. It is deciduous (sheds its leaves annually) and reaches a height of between 1 – 3 meters. The flowers are pale purple or lavender in colour and they give rise to orangey red fruits that hang down from the branches like a string of coloured lights. In the Himalayas and Tibet the berry’s nickname name means ‘happy berry’ not only due to its brilliant colour but because it is said to induce a sense of well-being in the person who eats it.
Though not a well known plant, it is interesting that some of its nearest relatives are actually well known vegetables; eggplant, tomatoes, chilli pepper, and potato.
Birds are said to enjoy goji berries right along with their human counterparts, and they are very wise to do so. Not only does it grow into a pretty bush but goji berries nutrition is well known. The bright orange red colour means that the berries contain carotenes (Vitamin A) which greatly supports good vision. The fruit is rich in other vitamins such as B1, B2 and C, as well as minerals and anti-oxidising compounds. The nutrients in this fruit have a variety of benefits in the body such boosting the immune system, supporting liver and heart function, and suppressing the growth of free radicals that cause cancers and other diseases. Studies have even shown that components in the berry promote healthier skin and have anti-aging effects.
Gohi berries can be purchased fresh and whole, as a juice, or in dried form. In Asia the berries are dried outside slowly and away from direct sunlight. The dried berries have the advantage of longevity and a range of uses in cooking. Dried goji berries are like raisins and they make excellent fillings for fruit pies and tarts, as a topping to your favourite breakfast cereal or as a simple, healthy snack. In the East Asian countries, the berries are also prepared into soups, stews and even wine. In China, the young leaves and shoots are cultivated as a vegetable. Gohi berries seem to be known the world over for not only their great taste but for their goji berries nutrition.
Wherever it is introduced, the attractiveness of the goji berry shrub makes it a suitable plant for garden hedges. Even today goji berry hedgerows, bearing bright orange fruits, can still be spotted growing wild throughout countrysides the world over.