Interesting facts about goji berries

goji berries

Goji, goji berry or wolfberry is the fruit of Lycium barbarum and Lycium chinense.

These are two very closely related species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae (which also includes the potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili pepper, and tobacco).

The two species are native to Asia.

The berries grow on hardy, deciduous shrubs of 0.9 to 1.5 meters (3 to 5 feet) in height, with long arching stems. These berries spring from bright purple, funnel-shaped flowers [photo below]. Orange/red globular berries then form in late season.

goji berry flower

Goji berries have become popular in recent years.

It yields a plentiful supply of nutritious orange/red berries, which can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried.

They are also often made into juice.

A brightly colored orange/red fruit with a slightly sour flavor, they are considered a superfood.

There are 90 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of goji berries.

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Goji berries are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, iron, potassium, zinc, copper and selenium and a good source of protein, thiamin and calcium.

The health benefits of goji berries boost the immune system and brain activity, promotes healthy skin, stabilizes blood sugar, improves depression, anxiety, and sleep, prevents liver damage, protect against heart disease and cancer, and improve life expectancy.

Since about 2000, goji berry and derived products became common in the West as health foods or alternative medicine remedies extending from exaggerated and unproven claims about their health benefits.

Goji berries were used in ancient Chinese medicine for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments ranging from liver and kidney problems to issues with the skin, eyes, immune system and digestive tract.

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Traditionally, dried goji berries are cooked before they are consumed. They are commonly used in Chinese soups and as herbal tea. Moreover, goji berries are used for the production of tincture, wine, and juice.

Young goji shoots and leaves are harvested commercially as a leaf vegetable.

The genus name Lycium was assigned by Linnaeus in 1753. The Latin name lycium is derived from the Greek word λυκιον (lykion), used by Pliny the Elder (23-79) and Pedanius Dioscorides (ca. 40-90) for a plant known as dyer’s buckthorn, which was probably a Rhamnus species. The Greek word refers to the ancient region of Lycia (Λυκία) in Anatolia, where that plant grew.

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The common English name, “wolfberry”, has unknown origin. It may have arisen from the mistaken assumption that the Latin name Lycium was derived from Greek λύκος (lycos) meaning “wolf”.

In the English-speaking world, the name “goji berry” has been used since around 2000.

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