What Are Goji Berries?


Quick Answer

Goji berries are the fruit of the lycium barbarum and lycium chinense plants. They are edible and have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine, which has led to their marketing as a health supplement in Western markets.

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Full Answer

The plants that goji berries come from are native to Asia. They are members of the nightshade family, along with eggplants, tomatoes and tobacco. The berries are also commonly known as wolfberries.

Goji berries have a long history of use in Chinese cuisine, and there is anecdotal evidence for a wide range of health benefits in traditional Chinese medicine. Western marketing has labeled the berries as a superfood for sale in supplements. As of 2014, there are preliminary scientific studies indicating that the berries may have some benefit to mental health, mood and may promote sleep, but marketing claims may exceed the actual benefit demonstrated by scientific evidence. They may have a dangerous interaction with warfarin.

China is the world's leading supplier of goji berries. They are mostly supplied by large plantations located in the north-central and western regions of the country. Berries from the Ningxia region are particularly sought after, and an annual festival is held there that coincides with the berry harvest.

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