What’s So Great About Goji?

What’s So Great About Goji?

Andy Warhol said everyone would have their 15 minutes of fame. Seems that’s true for inanimate objects too. From Emma Stone to Tickle me Elmo, Kings of Leon to leg warmers, it status waxes and wanes. Foods definitely get their chance on the hit list, with some enjoying a brief meteoric rise and fizzle (hey oat bran, whatcha been up to?!) and others standing the test of time (damn you, cod liver oil!) So where do goji berries rank? Well, only time will tell but the little berry that has received stellar press of late is definitely making the most of its time in the spotlight. Now let’s see if she’s ready for her close up.

 

Goji berries are the fruit of a pretty little purple flowering plant in the boxthorn family, found in Asia and parts of southern Europe and in the same family of plants that produce potato, tomato and tobacco. The big deal surrounding goji berries is their high antioxidant content and touted superior nutrition, leading the mysterious powers that be to grant them “super food” status. A food’s antioxidant level is determined by the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale. Basically, the ORAC is a measurement of a food’s ability to absorb and disarm free radicals in the body (those nasty little jagged-edged cells that destroy healthy cells and are thought to be harbingers of everything from inflammation to cancer). The higher the ORAC rating the more antioxidant, disease-fighting power a food has. Oranges have an ORAC rating of 750. Blueberries, also considered a super food, come in at 2400. Goji berries? 25,300. What?! Why am I not eating these as a type? And why are you not eating them as you read? Do we all have a death wish??

Okay, so once I calmed down I did the math and although the ORAC rating chart is one useful tool to get a general sense of the fruits and veggies that should star in your family’s diet, in some cases it can be a smidge misleading. That’s because all the foods are rated based on 100g servings. But comparing a dried fruit like Goji berries to say, an orange or even blueberries tips the scale unfairly towards the smaller, dried (and therefore lighter) fruit. 100g of goji berries also contains a lot more calories, sugar etc than 100g of a non-dried fruit so while the rating may even out a little when we compare apples to apples (ha!) goji berries still sit near the top of the ORAC list. Overall, goji berries seem to be a pretty decent addition to the diet and are especially appealing to little kid hands since they are small, one-biters not unlike other berries and raisins. Easy to pack in lunches and a portable snack that won’t get yucky or mushy (in 6 year old parlance), they’re worth a try for sure.

As for the inevitable shady marketers who always see an opportunity and leap on it? There is no lack of “these berries will save your life” claims. One snake oil salesman actually referenced studies that proved Goji berry juice cures cancer! It does everything from calm the mind to cure arthritis, improves athletic performance and fights heart disease. It’s not just a fruit, it’s a superhero! I think Ryan Reynolds should play it in the movie!

But we’re smarter than that. We know no one food is going to save our lives (but if it turns out to be muffins, I will live forever!)

Caveat: according to one website, goji berries can interact with blood pressure meds, blood thinners like warfarin and may not be suitable for diabetics so don’t start pumping Granddad with them just yet! Also, like so many fruits, organic is better since non-organic goji have been found to be doused with copious pesticides.

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4 Comments

  1. Franklin E. Tompkins
    January 10, 14:06 Reply

    Great article! No hype. Just the facts. We love it! Just one correction. Lycium ‘Chinese’ (Goji) measures “25,300” on the ORAC Scale. Lycium ‘barbarum’ (Goji) measures over “32,000” on the ORAC Scale. “Lycium barbarum L.” is THE ONLY GOJI USED IN TCM, and the Da Ma Ye ‘Cultivar, is the “Gold Standard” of Lycium barbarum L

    Best Wishes & Warmest Regards,

    Frank

  2. Mamasuds
    January 11, 01:09 Reply

    Okay. Fine and dandy, but now that I have a whopping bag of them, what do I do with the little buggers? Eating a few with my apricot seeds every day, but other than that?

  3. Kathy
    January 11, 11:24 Reply

    Good question! There’s only so many you can eat by the handful. I would suggest tossing them into your favourite baking (pancakes, scones, muffins, banana bread. Or try them in savoury dishes like curry or stews. For breakfast, add them to oatmeal or have them with granola over yogurt. They’d also be great in a trail mix for portable snacks for school. Hope that helps!
    Kathy

  4. Ann Barnes
    January 11, 13:14 Reply

    Hiya! See my site for amazing goji oatmeal cookies!

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