Nicknamed “the fruit of eternal youth”, the goji berry (or goji berry, in Portuguese, berry being the designation for fleshy fruit with seeds) is a success among nutritious and healthy foods. It is a small dried red fruit, similar to raisins, with a sweet taste, known to strengthen the immune system and prevent the aging of cells in the body. For these reasons, in recent years its consumption has gone viral among supporters of a healthier lifestyle.
An ancient food, the fruit originated in China, where it was used for medicinal purposes, to improve longevity and to treat respiratory and cardiovascular problems.
The goji berry landed in the West in the 19th century, and its popularity has been increasing due to its various aesthetic and physical benefits. The hashtag #berryasdegoji has 217.1 million views on the Tik Tok video platform. There, users from all over the world post videos trying the fruit and listing its numerous benefits.
Considered a superfood, goji berry, according to the National Library of Medicine of the United States, gained significant worldwide relevance two decades ago due to its high level of bioactive components, essential for health promotion.
“It is a natural product, free of industrial processes and artificial preservatives”, says Estefanía Beltrami, nutritionist.
The fruit comes from a plant known as Lycium barbarum, a type of bush characteristic of temperate climates, which grows wild in the Himalayas and in the regions of Tibet and Mongolia, in Asia.
The goji berry contains fundamental properties for the body. For Beltrami, its chemical composition is completely complete.
“It has all the macronutrients we need and which are responsible for generating energy and maintaining vital tissues in the body: 65% are carbohydrates, 15% proteins, which in this case includes all essential amino acids, and 10% unsaturated fats” , says the nutritionist.
In turn, they are also sources of micronutrients. Analía Yamaguchi, specialist in clinical nutrition at Hospital Italiano, explains that the fruit contains minerals such as potassium, calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components that delay cell aging and protect the intestinal microbiota, a group of microorganisms housed in the colon, responsible for regulating the body’s functions and keeping it in balance.
The list also includes vitamins of group B and C, necessary to strengthen the immune system and prevent the development of diseases and infections. In this regard, Yamaguchi adds that when vitamin C is taken after lunch or dinner, “the iron is better fixed, especially in vegetarians.”
In addition, the fruit is still an ally of vision, as it has carotenoids: organic pigments that give color to food – as in the case of carrots, tomatoes and egg yolks –, helping the eye muscles and preventing their deterioration. In addition, thanks to the presence of flavonoids, natural compounds that are part of plants, the brain and heart are also protected.
Given this scenario, MedlinePlus, a website maintained by the National Library of Medicine of the United States, mentions that, thanks to its substances, goji berry is used to treat diseases such as diabetes, aid in weight loss and skin care. However, they emphasize that there is still no good scientific evidence to support these uses.
This fruit comes in different formats: stuffed, raw, powdered and in supplements, and can be consumed in many ways and adapted to personal taste. Nutritionist Beltrami clarifies that one of the options is to combine the fruit in sweet dishes.
“It can be mixed with yogurt, in preparations for puddings and sponge cake, or, for example, as a topping for pancakes.”
Fans of sweet and sour flavors “can add this fruit to salads or soups”, says the nutritionist, explaining that another alternative is to beat it or use the powder to make juices, beating well to mix in different drinks and enhance the taste.
Regarding the recommended dose to be ingested, a MedlinePlus report states that, for safe consumption, the daily amount should not exceed 15 gm. However, the researchers suggest that it is best to consume the fruit for a short period of time, as it is not known for sure if it can cause long-term side effects.
Because it is a specific and somewhat exotic product, the goji berry can be found packaged in health and diet food stores.