Goji Berries

Goji berries (pronounced go-jee) are one of the latest super-food to hit store shelves.  With health claims ranging from boosting metabolism, preventing cancer to increasing libido, you can't help wonder if there's anything this little berry can't do.  While goji berries have been grown in China for centuries, the research supporting its many health claims is still in its infancy.  This month's featured food examines the hype, and sorts fact from fiction when it comes to all thing goji.

Goji Berries

Nutrition Notes

Goji berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, but only recently have they garnered extensive media attention in North America for their reported health benefits.  Traditionally the fruit and roots of the plant have been used for treating diabetes, hypertension, fever, malaria and preventing cancer - although evidence of its effectiveness remains scant.

From a nutrition standpoint, goji berries, like many other berries, pack a powerful punch.  They are low in calories, fat-free and are loaded with fibre, beta-carotene and are a good source of vitamin C.  They are also reported to have a high oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) - a measure of their antioxidant powers.

Despite the proliferation of health claims surrounding goji berries, there have been minimal human or animal studies to prove their effectiveness.  One of the most recent studies, which was industry-sponsored and published last year in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, found that consuming goji berry juice for as little as two weeks increased energy and improved gastrointestinal function in study participants.

Goji berries and their roots contain beta-sitosterol and kukoamine - two phytochemicals with cholesterol-lowering properties.   The roots also contain compounds with antihypertensive and hypoglycemic effects. 

Despite the hype, goji berries aren't a silver bullet or cure-all.  You're best off enjoying these berries, like all berries, in moderation as part of a well balanced diet.

Per 1 oz (28 grams) of dried goji berries:


100 kcal 

Total Fat 

0 grams 


4 grams 


21 grams 


13 grams 


3 grams 


75 milligrams 

Vitamin A 

140% DV 

Vitamin C 

20% DV 


4% DV 


10% DV 

source: www.navitasnatural.com


Goji berries are deciduous, woody perennial plants that produce red, oval berries one to two centimetres in length.  The berries are vine-ripened and harvested during the summer months in north-central China.

Goji berries have many aliases.  Their scientific names are Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum, and they belong to the Solanaceae family, which also includes potatoes, eggplants, chili peppers and tobacco.  More commonly they are referred to as Himalayan and Tibetan Goji berries, the wolfberry, Matrimony vine and Duke of Argyll's tea tree.


While fresh goji berries are a common staple in the areas around where they are grown, elsewhere in the world goji berries are sold dried or as an ingredient in tea, juice, cereal and other health foods.  Food marketers have been quick to jump on the goji bandwagon and, as a result, there's no shortage of ways to enjoy them.  Whether it's in cereal, tea, or as a supplement, there are plenty of ways to get your goji fix.  You can even enjoy a pint of beer with a hint of goji berries. 

Eating dried goji berries are the best way to stock up on nutrients, since many goji products only contain trace amounts of the berries.  In Canada, like elsewhere in the world, goji berries come with a hefty price tag.  A 500-gram bag of dried goji berries will run you about forty dollars, while a one litre bottle of pure goji berry juice costs between thirty and forty dollars.

There are plenty of online companies selling goji berry juice, goji berry energy drinks and freeze dried goji powder.  If you prefer to buy in person, most health food stores and more recently, larger grocery store chains in Canada are also carrying goji berry products.


Dried goji berries should be stored like any dried food - away from moisture, preferably in a cool, dark place.  Products containing goji berries should be stored according to package directions.


Dried goji berries can be eaten whole or added to cooked dishes or baked goods.  Dried goji berries can easily be rehydrated.  Simply pour boiling water over them and let them sit until they are plump and juicy - use as you would any fresh berry.


Dried goji berries have a soft, chewy texture - as a result they are versatile and can be added to a variety of dishes, or eaten on their own.  Sometimes referred to as ‘red diamonds', goji berries have a pleasant taste that's slightly bitter; they taste like a cross between cherries, cranberries and raisins.  They pair well with naturally sweet foods such as other fresh fruit.

Healthy ways to enjoy


  • Add a handful of dried goji berries to a morning smoothie - they pair well with sweet fruit such as kiwi, mango and peaches. 
  • Sprinkle goji berries on a bowl of hot oatmeal for a delicious morning meal.
  • Make your own goji berry juice by blending a handful of rehydrated dried goji berries with ice water.  Add a few sprigs of mint, and a drizzle of honey for a refreshing twist.


  • Add dried goji barriers to a fresh spinach salad with water-packed tuna and shredded carrots.
  • Sprinkle dried goji berries on a bowl of lentil soup for a nutrient boost.


  • Add a splash of colour to a chicken stir-fry by adding some dried goji-berries prior to serving.
  • Dried goji berries are a tasty addition to any whole grain pilaf.


  • Enjoy goji berries than on their own.  Munch on a handful of dried berries for a healthy mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
  • Make your own trail mix by combining equal parts dried goji berries, raisins, roasted almonds and cashews.
  • Add goji berries in place of raisins to you favourite low fat cookie, quick bread or muffin recipe.
  • Make your own goji-pops by blending goji berries with low fat yogurt and pure fruit juice.  Pour into popsicle moulds and enjoy on a hot summer's day!

More Information



Did you know?

  • Each August goji berries are celebrated in China with an annual festival around the time of their harvest.
  • Young goji berry shoots and leaves are sold and consumed as a green, leafy vegetable.
  • Legend has it that one herbalist who ate plenty of goji berries lived to be 252 years old!