What Is a Goji Berry?


Quick Answer

The goji berry is a fruit native to Asia also known as wolfberry. It belongs to the family Solanaceae, which also includes tomato, potato, chili pepper, tobacco, deadly nightshade and eggplant.

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What Is a Goji Berry?
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Full Answer

The goji berry plant is a perennial with leaves in bundles of three, producing a reddish-orange berry. Workers harvest the plants by shaking them gently to release the ripe berries. The berries are usually dried, but they are also prepared into juice. Popular products containing goji berries include teas and granola cereals. Goji berries contain 11 minerals, 22 trace minerals, six vitamins and phenols believed to have antioxidant properties. Phytochemicals in goji berries include beta-carotene, polysaccharides and zeaxanthin.

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

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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