For about two years now my family has been eating dried Goji berries as a regular part of our diet after reading the many claims about them being beneficial to health. About a year ago we stopped using them for three weeks and quickly went back to using them. Apart from the fact that we like their taste here's what we found compared with the claim made for them:
Claim: It improves sexual libido (OK I thought you might want this first!)
I find: Yes - it's true! Gentlemen - feed your wife goji berries. But be warned you'll need to eat them yourself to keep up with her.
Claim: It improves circulation
I find: Also true. My wife had always suffered from cold hands and feet - but not when she ate goji berries. When we stopped for three weeks her cold hands returned.
Claim: It is beneficial for prostate problems.
I find: Not sure about this one, however after blood tests showed a higher than normal PSA count I recently underwent a prostate examination (that's another blog) and the verdict was - no sign of prostate cancer and why did my doctor ask for the test?
Claim: They reduce cholesterol levels.
I find: Another one I can't confirm but - in those blood tests my cholesterol level was found to be lower than normal.
Claim: They reduce joint problems.
I find: True. My wife had problems with her wrists, she has apparently bones which are too flexible and which bend slightly and bruise becoming painful. Since starting to eat goji berries the problem has been much reduced. I used to get periodic stiff necks. Not a trace of them since starting to take goji berries.
Claim: They improve eyesight.
I find: I think it's true. Both of us have stopped wearing glasses to read. When we stopped taking goji berries we had to use glasses again.
Claim: They improve the skin and make you look younger.
I find: Hmm. Can't be sure about this one but then we both signed the Peter Pan pledge years ago. I'm thinking of retiring and people keep saying ' Retire? Surely you are not old enough'.
Claim: They reduce inflammation more effectively than aspirin.
I find: I haven't noticed any such effect. Having said that the only headache I've had in the last six months was during the three week period when we stopped taking them.
Claim: They promote a general feeling of well being.
I find: I feel just fine but then I always did and can't honestly say I've noticed any difference. My wife however is convinced she feels better when taking them.
Now for the bits we've found out that as far as we can tell isn't recorded about the berries.
- They are very easy to grow yourself. Put three of the dried berries in a small pot of damp compost. Seedlings will grow within 3 weeks. Once they are 10cm tall transfer them to a bigger pot. They like practically any soil, shade or sunshine. You'll need to protect them from slugs - they love the leaves. Berries can start forming in the second year but you won't get a decent crop for several years. You'll need to protect them from birds and rabbits who also love them. We have ours where we grow roses and mixed in with hawthorn hedges.
- The berries taste great eaten fresh or can be dried for storage. We have a hot air drier which works well. You are not supposed to pick the berries by hand because they are very easily damaged (like ripe blackberries).
- Check your local chinese supermarket for a cheaper source of the dried berries, failing that try Holland and Barret or even Tesco as a source. Tesco is an expensive source however. If you live in South East England, especially Suffolk look out for them gowing in roadside hedges.
- Buy plain yoghurt and add dried goji berries. Leave overnight or for 2-3 hours. The berries will re-hydrate and taste delicious with the yoghurt. Some people may like to liquidise or chop the berries in the yoghurt before eating it.
- If you can't wait, add boiling water to dried berries. They will re-hydrate within 10 minutes and you can drink the liquid too.
- Cats love the dried berries. They make great treats.
- Dried goji berries are a great addition to oatmeal when making flapjack.
- The young leaves can be used to make a herbal tea.
- The roots of a goji berry plant can be washed, crushed and work well as an antiseptic for scratches.
- You can make a goji berry juice from the dried berries. Try adding a little cherry juice concentrate for extra flavour.