organic goji powder and dried berries

How To Eat Goji Berries: Powder vs. Dry Berries Rehydrated

[toc]The Lycium barbarum, also known as wolfberry, has become the poster child for superfoods. Yet, they’re greatly misunderstand.

Why they’re healthy for you are not the reasons most people think.

They’re also being eaten the wrong way. Or at least, in a less-tasty manner.

Why are goji berries always dried?

Two reasons; they’re mostly grown in China and they perish easily. This makes importing the fresh berries impractical.

At Whole Foods and similar stores in certain parts of the US, you might come across fresh goji for sale. They’re US-grown and make blueberries seem cheap. The little 3 oz. clamshell we have encountered at SoCal stores has cost anywhere from $5-8. It’s barely one serving!

The only continuously available and affordable option is to use dried berries.

The problem with Navitas Organics goji berries, and most other brands, is that they’re as hard as rocks. It would not be shocking if you eventually cracked a tooth eating them.

Fortunately, there is a better way.

How to eat

The best way to eat goji berries is to rehydrate them. Measure out the desired quantity, place them in a glass or bowl, then add water. After 1-2 hours they plum up. For best results, put them in the fridge overnight for maximum rehydration.

1. Measure out 3 Tbsp of dry berries

scooping tablespoon of dried berries

3 tablespoons equates to about 1 ounce (30g). That’s the serving size listed on Navitas Organics, Sunfood Superfoods, Viva Naturals, and most other brands.

While you can eat more, side effects of goji berries in high amounts include stomach ache and loose stools. For that reason, it’s best to start with a smaller quantity.

2. Add 3 ounces of water

adding water to glass containing dried goji

With the berries in a bowl or cup, pour in 3 ounces of purified water; 1 ounce per tablespoon of berries.

3. Place in fridge for 2 or more hours

soaking goji in water to plump them up

What you see above is how they will look at the start.

rehydrated goji

This is how they look after soaking in water for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

When you leave goji in the fridge overnight to hydrate, they will plump up slightly more. However, most of the rehydration takes place during the first 2 hours.

goji soaked overnight to hydrate

This is how they look at 8 am, after being in the fridge since 4 pm the day before. Only slightly more plumped when compared to soaking for 2 hours.

You can also do this with golden berries, which is what you see in the other glass, but they won’t plump up that much.

4. If desired, strain liquid from berries

If you want the goji juice separate from the berries, then pour through a strainer or scoop them out.

glass of goji juice

Don’t discard the goji water or juice. It’s healthy and tastes great!

5. Eat them on their own or added to food

before and after soaking goji

Once the berries are hydrated, you can enjoy them by the spoon… without cracking a tooth! Add them to protein powder pudding or mix them in with hot quinoa flakes for breakfast, which is what we do.

Goji berry powder benefits

raw USDA organic goji powder

While less common than the dried berries, goji powder is another way to enjoy this nutritious superfood. Uses include smoothies and other recipes where they whole berries may not work, such as when you want creamy yogurt or that secret ingredient in a mole sauce. Stirring a spoonful of powder into cold water makes for a delicious drink. It’s low sugar and healthier for you than soda, lemonade, and most processed juices.

Goji berry tea recipes that call for steeping the whole fruit are less than ideal. Only the water soluble nutrients make it into the final drink. By using goji powder to make tea, you are benefiting from the entire fruit being incorporated.

Goji powder vs goji berries

nutrition facts for goji powder and dried goji berries compared

When equal weights are used, both goji berries and powder made from them will have comparable nutrition facts; about 30 calories per tablespoon (9-10g), 3g of sugar, and 1g of protein.

One drawback of powder is that the heat generated during the grinding process may destroy heat sensitive phytonutrients, like vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

Fortunately, the primary antioxidants in goji are carotenoids; vitamin A, zeaxanthin, and lycopene. These are not heat sensitive and should remain intact. (1) (2)

Why are they good for you?

A lot of people think that goji are great for antioxidants but the facts say otherwise. With an ORAC value of 3,290 for the dried, they have fewer antioxidants than strawberries (4,302), blueberries (4,669), and raspberries (5,065). More exotic types like maqui and lingonberry have over 400% more antioxidants by weight. Acai powder has an ORAC of over 100,000.

Fresh goji actually have lower antioxidant content than the dried. Their ORAC is 3,290. The reason the dried have more is because with their water largely removed, the nutrients are more concentrated.

Health benefits of goji powder and dried berries

1. More protein than any other fruit

With 16% of their calories in the form of amino acids, goji are the highest protein fruit.

2. Excellent source of vitamin A

Providing around 2,500 IU, which is 50% of the daily value, for every 3 Tbsp serving.

Since it’s a natural source (beta-carotene) you don’t have to worry about overdosing, like you do with the synthetic form (vitamin A palmitate, retinyl acetate, vitamin A acetate).

3. Highest zeaxanthin source

This can be found in many fruits and vegetables, but often in low amounts. The wolfberry is among the very highest natural food sources. Some research claims it is the highest.

Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid known for its blue light-absorbing benefits – e.g. that light emitting from your phone and computer screen which is linked to eye health concerns.

Zeaxanthin is known to concentrate in the eyes and research suggests it may be beneficial for a number of degenerative vision diseases, like glaucoma and macular degeneration. (3)

4. Good source of fiber

A serving of 3 Tbsp provides 4g, which is 16% of the daily value.

5. Moderate source of selenium

Around 25% of the DV per serving.

6. Moderate iron content

Around 15% of the DV per serving.

7. Glycemic-friendly

Goji are among the least sweet berries. Their sugar content is about 50% glucose, 45% fructose, and 5% sucrose.

Their polysaccharides have been linked to lower blood sugar levels in type 2 diabetics. This was seen in a double-blinded trial where 67 patients consumed controlled amounts daily over 3 months. They had lower blood sugar relative to the control group. (4)

8. Weight loss

There’s no doubt that the dieting claims for this superfood are highly exaggerated, in order to sell supplements and snacks. That said, there is compelling evidence that eating goji may help you lose weight.

A double-blinded and placebo-controlled study with overweight men and women reported that goji consumption increased caloric expenditure (calories burned) and decreased waist circumference (belly fat). (5)

In a study of patients with metabolic syndrome, it reduced abdominal fat and improved their blood lipid profile. (6)

Best brands to buy

Unlike more commoditized foods, you do actually want to be picky as to which brands you purchase.

For starters, practically all are imported from China. You want those which are grown in the more remote Ningxia mountainous region. Not anything near centers of industry.

Goji powder mildew is a common problem. If the perfect amount of moisture isn’t removed, then bacteria can thrive inside the bag.

While we love supporting mom ‘n pop brands, the truth is that when it comes to imported food, knowing the supply chain and having excellent quality control measures is crucial. Bigger budgets can handle that better.

We are big fans of Sunfood, which is a major brand, but were disappointed with the clumpiness and inconsistencies in their freeze-dried goji powder. For that reason, we recommend sticking with the biggest player in the field; Navitas.

Amazon has good pricing for their 8 oz bag of organic powder and 16 oz bag of dried berries.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.