Wolfberry, commercially called goji berry, is the common name for the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium barbarum and L. chinense, two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae (which also includes the potato, tomato, eggplant, deadly nightshade, chili pepper, and tobacco). It is native to southeastern Europe and Asia.
It is also known as Chinese wolfberry, mede berry, barbary matrimony vine, bocksdorn, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree, Murali (in India), red medlar, or matrimony vine. Unrelated to the plant’s geographic origin, the names Tibetan goji and Himalayan goji are in common use in the health food market for products from this plant.
Wolfberry contains significant percentages of a day’s macronutrient needs – carbohydrates, protein, fat and dietary fiber. About 68% of the mass of dried wolfberries exists as carbohydrate, 12% as protein, and 10% each as fiber and fat, giving a total caloric value in a 100 gram serving of 370 (kilo)calories.
Micronutrients and phytochemicals
Wolfberries contain many nutrients and phytochemicals including
- 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals
- 18 amino acids
- 6 essential vitamins
- 8 polysaccharides and 6 monosaccharides
- 5 unsaturated fatty acids, including the essential fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid
beta-sitosterol and other phytosterols
- 5 carotenoids, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin (below), lutein, lycopene and cryptoxanthin, a xanthophyll
- numerous phenolic pigments (phenols) associated with antioxidant properties
Select examples given below are for 100 grams of dried berries.
Iron. Wolfberries have 9 mg iron per 100 grams (100% DRI).
Wolfberries also contain numerous phytochemicals for which there are no established DRI values. Examples: