What Is So Special About Asian Diet?
My friends often ask me why Asian people look so much younger than our age. The truth is, Asian or non-Asian, the three keys to staying young and healthy are diet, exercise, and good sleep. Asians don’t necessarily exercise more or sleep better than other people, but what we eat is often unique. For many Asians, food is not only a source of nutrition, but the first defense against preventing illness. When we have a cold or feel chilled, we drink hot ginger water. We eat watermelon to get rid of canker sores and pimples. To increase qi (internal energy flow), we eat ginseng. In fact, we eat different foods during different seasons for the betterment of our health, especially during seasonal changes when our bodies are more prone to illness. It’s not just good food that equates with good health; we should eat the right food at the right time to maintain a strong, vibrant body.
Goji Berries – The Net Fountain of Youth
Growing up in Asia, I became familiar with a long list of healing foods and supplements: tea, ginseng, reishi, fo-ti, longan, and red yeast rice. But when I think back to the one healing food that seemed most common, goji berries (also called wolfberries) took the gold. Here’s my earliest goji berry memory from when I was four years old. Because my mother was an entrepreneur and running a business, she hired a cook to make sure her kids had food on the table. Soup was served as one of the five courses every day and during one dinner, I saw many beautiful orange ovals floating on top of the soup. I asked my mother what they were and she told me, “That’s goji and it’s good for your eyes.” Up until that point, the only good food I knew was “Popeye’s vegie,” which is what I called spinach in my four-year-old days—I was a big fan of the cartoon and firmly believed spinach would make me grow as strong as the sailor man. I remember fishing out the goji berries with my spoon so I could taste them on their own. I quickly fell in love with the taste and texture of this magic food. Back then, I didn’t know goji berries were the next fountain of youth and that Asians had been eating these berries for generations to look younger and live longer. What I did know, immediately, was that I liked goji berries so much more than spinach.
What Is A Goji Berry?
The goji berry is a bright red-orange fruit, which originally grew in China. The fruit belongs to the Nightshade Family, a family of agricultural crops with medicinal value. The berries are usually dried (think sun-dried tomatoes) and are a little smaller than raisins.
The Health Benefits of Goji Berries
Goji berries are packed with vitamin A, C, B1 and B2, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, and selenium, along with five unsaturated fatty acids and antioxidant properties. As we know, antioxidants slow the aging process, boost the immune system, and lower cholesterol. Like most berries, goji berries contain compounds that can prevent cancer and heart disease. In fact, according to Chinese medicine books, which are thousands of years old (compare that with the FDA, which was founded in 1906!) there are seventeen different health benefits connected to goji berries, not the least of which, as my Mom pointed out, is improved vision.
How To Cook Goji Berries
Goji berries are affordable and versatile. Ten dollars will get you a half pound of top-grade goji berries, but most recipes call for a few spoonfuls. They are all natural, non-toxic and can be used daily. If you are making goji berries a part of your daily diet, 20 grams a day is the right amount. When used medicinally, 30 grams is appropriate. Gojis can be added to beverages and soups, to stews and congees, to cereals and oatmeal, and even to cookies cakes and other desserts. They can be boiled, steamed or stir-friend. Or simply rinse them and treat them as a condiment to almost any food. One simple way to cook goji berries is to add one tablespoon of berries to a cup of water and boil. Fifteen minutes later, the semi-sweet goji berry beverage is done. Drink it hot or cold and you’ll start feeling young in no time.