Goji Berry Recipes
Goji berry as a health food came to the public consciousness in Western countries less than 10 years ago. Marketed in the West mostly as organic Goji berry, this plant belongs to the Solanaceae family that also includes tomato, potato, chili, eggplant, tobacco, pepper and chili. Even as health benefits of Goji berry is a fairly recent phenomenon among Western cultures, the plant has long been among the medicinal and culinary ingredients used in China. Known in China as wolfberry, the plant has already been cited in literature on alternative herbal medicine dating to as far back as the 7th and 16th century.
In addition to several provinces in China, Goji is also grown in the Himalayas, specifically in Tibet. The growing of Goji berry in accepted standards of organic cultivation is particularly popular in these areas where producers claim that their produce are certified by the Chinese government as passing organically grown food benchmarks. Having such a certification is important in the production and marketing of organic Goji berry products as health food supplements that contributes to weight loss, as well as prevention and cure of several diseases.
The fruits of Goji ripen into small, shiny red berries that develop from cone-shaped, light violet flowers. Among the beneficial nutrients said to be present in these berries are proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, amino acids and dietary fibers. As a health food supplement, Goji is marketed as a major ingredient in juices, creams, bars and capsules. Some Goji berries are also sold in their dried or desiccated form making these products appear like shrivelled red raisins. These processed Goji tastes slightly sour and sweet with a mild tangy flavour. In traditional Chinese medicine, the berries are taken raw which may help explain why the organic Goji berry cultivation is encouraged in China and in Tibet. Many Asian dishes also contain Goji berries as a garnishing in the foods’ recipes.
Several health benefits that could be derived from Goji fruit have been advanced by food supplement manufacturers. These health benefit claims include the protection of the liver, improvement of the sexual function and fertility, boosting the immune function, improving circulation and promoting longevity. Goji berry is also said to enhance physical performance by increasing stamina and strengthening the legs. Other health food manufacturers promote Goji berry products by saying that these can be useful in preventing age-related eyesight deterioration, relieving menstrual pains, reducing cholesterol levels and addressing treatment of hepatitis and cancer.
To bolster these claims, some studies are often cited in the promotional literature of health food supplement manufacturers. One is the finding of a 1994 study contained in the Chinese Journal of Oncology that 79 cancer-stricken subjects elicited better response to treatment when Goji intake was added to their medical regimen. Other oft-repeated basis for Goji berry efficacy are some test tube tests showing that extracts from the fruit have been found to contain anti-oxidants that may prevent cancer cell growth, as well as lead to a reduction in blood glucose.