The Jewels of Ning Xia: Navitas’s Goji Berries
Written by: Jeremy Strav Madhavan
Yes, I admit it. I too just assumed that Goji was the name of some mountain in the Himalayas where these exotic fruits were carefully cultivated and harvested by mountain clansmen in their enclaves shrouded by mist and fog. Amusingly, the origin of the word Goji is far simpler, and comes from a culture with a proximity relatively organic to Singapore’s. The Goji berry, also known as wolfberry, acquired its name from the Chinese 枸杞子 (Gou Qi Zi), a herb primarily grown in the Ning Xia Region in north-central China. Often used in Chinese recipes of rice congee and almond jelly, the Goji berry has such cultural significance that there’s even an annual celebratory festival in Ning Xia dedicated to it.
It’d be impossible for me to chronicle the entire history of the Goji berry in this humble article. Legend has it that a fountain of youth existed in an old Buddhist temple, where the thick Goji vines grew over their well and the ripe berries would fall in, providing all who drank from it with boundless vigor. It holds the nickname “The Happy Berry”, as local monks who brewed tea from it were known to be jolly and filled with mirth even within their asceticism.
The practice of traditional Chinese medicine has always had a contentious relationship with western medical science. While many swear by the efficacy of herbs and acupuncture, the western scientific world has doggedly refused to legitimize herbal medicine as having empirically proven health benefits. However, even western studies have found that the Goji berry contains a particularly high level of zeaxanthin, a naturally occurring anti-oxidant required for retinal function within the human eye. One of the most studied carotenoids in the world, most current research points to zeaxanthin having a positive effect in preventing cataracts as well as age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Nutrition & our Immune System
While every superfood in the Navitas’s Naturals line is incredibly rich in nutrition, the Goji berry ranks amongst the very top in terms of nutritional balance. Possessing over 20 different trace minerals and vitamins, a single serving of the Navitas Goji berry mix can yield you with vitamin C, fiber, vitamin A, zinc, iron and protein as well as 8 different kinds of amino acids. That’s a whole lot of nutrition.
How this relates to our health is by acting as a fuel source for our immune system. While drinking a Goji berry mix isn’t going to replace the need for our yearly flu shot (ugh!), laboratory testing on aged mice has shown a marked increase in promoting immunity to the flu and other viral infections. A recent study of 14 individuals who drank Navitas’s Naturals Goji Berry mix daily over a month suggested that they experienced a better quality of sleep, greater ability to focus and an overall ability to maintain calmness. While the human body is incredibly complex, it makes perfect sense that consuming a consistently high source of nutrition daily will improve our the quality of our lives across multiple facets.
My verdict – Delicious with a capital D. Chinese herbs have always had a reputation for being horrendously bitter. Well, Goji berries aren’t any different! Eaten fresh, they have a raisin-like texture with a stark bitterness that even the most eloquent Chinese Sinseh would find tough to market. However, Navitas’s Naturals uses sun-dried Goji berries in their products, either in a mix or to be eaten as they are. Once dried, Goji berries have a sweet, tangy bite which is pleasant and almost addictive. Think of a chewy sun-dried raisin with the sourness of the cranberry and the zest of a cherry.
Best of all, the Goji berry is an incredibly versatile option for those familiar with customizing their own breakfast foods. They make a great addition to granola mixes, oatmeal, cereals, yoghurts and smoothies. Or you could just grab a bag and eat them on their own; at your workdesk, while travelling, or even as a midnight snack as a yummy bedtime reading companion. They’re the Swiss army knife of superfoods. Go on and give them a try!
Purchase now at: http://gofresh.com.sg/product/navitas-goji-berries-organic-220g/