What Are Goji Berries?: Health Benefits, Tips And Recipes

12/01/2015 15:35 GMT | Updated 12/01/2015 17:59 GMT

Goji berries may look like dry, shriveled up old raisins (if raisins were red), but once you get past their odd appearance they're actually pretty tasty.

And boy are they good for you. According to experts, these tiny berries are packed with five hundred times more vitamin C than an orange (yes, really) and can help lower stress levels and cholesterol.

Here's all you need to know about them.

goji berries

What Are They?

"Also known as Wolfberry, goji is native to Asia," explains Tipper Lewis, Head Herbalist at Neal’s Yard Remedies. "It has been grown in the Himalayan Mountains and used as a medicinal food for over 3,000 years and is regarded as a national treasure in Tibet where it’s known as ‘the key to eternal youth’."

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Health Benefits

"The berries have been use in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to help eyesight, boost immune function and promote longevity. They also contain generous amounts of iron, beta-carotene, amino acids, five hundred times more vitamin C than oranges," Lewis explains.

"Goji berries are considered an adaptogen, which means that they help to manage your body’s hormonal response to stress and are renowned for their ability to strengthen immunity and lower cholesterol. Can be soaked overnight, added to porridge or just eat a handful as a snack on the go."

But not everyone is convinced.

Alison Hornby, a dietitian and BDA spokesperson, says the evidence behind the health claims about goji berries is weak.

"Various goji berry products are sold as health foods, but the evidence of their health benefits so far comes from scientific studies using purified extracts of the fruit at much higher concentrations than the products contain," she says. "As these products tend to be relatively costly, it makes sense to stick to eating a range of fruits and vegetables rather than spending your money on this one item with no proven health benefits."

How To Eat Them

:: Make sure you soak the berries before use, whether that's overnight in a chia seed breakfast pudding or simply in a dish with a splash of water. Crunchy goji berries are not nice at all.

:: Why not make your own goji berry tea? Simply put them in a cup of boiling water for a superfood pick-me-up. They keep their taste really well, so once you've finished your tea either refill your cuppa with more hot water, reuse the berries in a recipe of your choice or just eat them as they are.

19 Goji Berries Recipes