Sunday, April 7, 2013

Goji Berries-Super Food or Just a Hype??

As you may know, I love working with trendy and functional foods. Recently, I have been doing some research on Goji berries (or wolf berries)for an upcoming workshop titled " The FUNtional Foodie: Making Trendy Foods Affordable to Fit my Plate". My colleague and I will be presenting at the Pennsylvania American Dietetic Association Annual Meeting and Expo held in Monroeville.
Yup, my big belly and I are kind of nervous, but what could be more fun than talking about fun foods and preparing recipes in front of a bunch of nutrition professionals! Baby Wyatt and I can't wait to be up on stage!

Here are some claims made on Goji berries:

People have used Goji berries to treat many common health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, fever, and age-related eye problems. They have been called the fountain of youth, due to their high antioxidant content.  In some Asian countries, Goji berries have been eaten for generations in the hopes of living longer. Some say they even aid in weight loss by decreasing waist circumference.
Some studies using Goji berry juice found benefits in mental wellness and athletic performance, quality of sleep, and overall good health. .


Here are the facts:

Goji berries can be eaten raw, cooked, or dried  and are used in herbal teas, juices and wines.
They are bright orange-red berries that comes from a shrub native to China.

In general , research shows that eating berries, such as blueberries, cranberries and  strawberries offers some health benefits. Berries, such as Goji,  are packed with antioxidants and other compounds that may help prevent cancer and other illnesses. It is well known that antioxidants may also boost the immune system.

Eating foods high in antioxidants minimizes damage from free radicals that injure cells and damage DNA. By doing so, antioxidants may  help reduce the risk of some serious diseases.

Goji berries also contain vitamin A, which aids in  protecting vision.

In two separate RCT in animal models, the berry juice was been shown to increase metabolic rate, reduce body weight  and produce general feeling of well being by increasing energy levels (Amagase et al.).
In another study in mice, supplementation of the berry polysaccharides was shown to protect against exercise induced oxidant stress (Changbo et at.)

In another animal study, the berry extract improved neurological deficits and cerebral edema in mice with ischemic stroke (Yang et al).

In a Chinese review study, experiments have shown that the polysaccharides components are the major contributor to the biological activities in the berries (Jin et al.).

Some research suggests that Goji berries may boost brain health and may protect against age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's. More research is needed.

While Goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants, and research may be promising for health benefits, it is unclear whether they are any more nutritious than compared to other berries. Also, it is unclear which variety( the raw, dried or supplement) are the most effective.

Try this new and fun recipe- to be used in the food demonstration component of our workshop:

Goji Berry Chocolate Truffles

 ¾ cup roughly chopped or sliced almonds
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
¼ cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup dried goji berries
1 cup apricots (or golden raisins, cranberries, cherries)
2 Tbsp. agave syrup (or honey)
½ cup unsweetened coconut for rolling (another trendy food!!)


I purchased these on Amazon!

Place ingredients in a food processor (except for agave and coconut) and process until finely ground.

 Add agave and pulse until thick dough forms.

Use a tablespoon or small cookie dough scoop to shape mixture into truffles. Coat scoop with cooking spray to prevent sticking.

 Roll in coconut and store in an airtight container.

Makes 30 small truffles.


If you are interested in the nutrition facts, contact me at


  1. Thank you everything,we aslo research and offer Goji berrie and goji juice in Ningxia,China,we know goji is the best super food!
    We would like to sharing with you more information about goji.