Goji Berries are actually a new fruit in America and Europe. It originates from Asia, where it has been used in traditional medicine for 2000 years.
I first heard about them last year when I saw them in a garden in my town. What I originally found out about this type of fruit is that it is expensive and very healthy.
I did a little research and realized that these berries are not like other fruit types. They contain a whopping amount of 11 amino acids. This is more than any fruit and they do not cause obesity, because they contain very little sugar.
Phytochemicals like zeaxanthin, polysaccharides, and beta-carotene are major constituents of goji berries. They are extremely important for the overall human health.
Let’s see in more detail what’s goji berries and whether they are indeed that healthy.
Table of Contents
What is Goji Berries or Wolfberries?
Their Latin name is Lycium barbarum and you can find them also like wolfberries. They originated from Asia and have been used in traditional medicine in China for around 2000 years.
The plant grows in the form of a bush. Because of the beta-carotene it contains, the fruit has orange-red color.
They have a sweet taste and are a source of dietary fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals. They are very specific antioxidants and provide many benefits for the human body.
Goji is rich in nutrients that easily meet daily recommended doses. They are very easy to fit into your daily diet and are a great addition to smoothies, yogurt, or desserts.
People are beginning to call it the fruit of the future or the super fruit. Does it really deserve these names? Let’s see.
1. Goji Berries Are Very Nutritious
Goji contains vitamin C as much as lemon and orange.
Unlike raspberries and blueberries that contain 1 gram of protein per 100 grams, goji berries contain 11 grams of protein per 100 grams. It is surprising for a fruit to contain so much protein.
They also contain high amounts of fiber. Both protein and fiber are responsible for making you feel full for longer.
Goji is a source of powerful and important antioxidants such as lycopene, carotenoids, lutein and polysaccharides which make 5-8 % of the berries.
Here is a detailed description of how much they fill RDI:
As you can see this fruit contains a high amount of Vitamin A and ingesting a larger amount can cause problems, so be careful.
Goji berries also contain:
And 11 essential amino acids that are very rare and important for improving human health.
2. Goji Berries Have High Levels of Antioxidants
Antioxidants protect cells from breaking down as a result of harmful molecules and radicals such as radiation and smoke.
Well, goji has plenty of it. In fact, oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) score which shows the quantity of antioxidants in foods, is 3,290 for goji berries. For comparison, apples contains 2,828, bananas 795, raspberries 5,065, and blackberries 4,669.
A few studies have shown that these fruits increase the level of antioxidants in the human body.
In the first study, 50 healthy adults drank 120 ml of concentrated goji juice daily. The level of antioxidant markers of these individuals increased by 8 percent.
In another study, elderly healthy people consumed 90 days of goji berries juice with a milk base. Their levels of all antioxidants increased by 57 percent, while the antioxidant zeaxanthin increased by 26 percent.
Antioxidants are of great importance for the overall human health, especially for the prevention of chronic diseases.
3. Improves Skin Health and Has Anti-Aging Properties
Beta-carotene type antioxidants contained in goji berries are preventing collagen damage in the skin from free radicals. This makes them good for improving and maintaining skin health.
A type of antioxidant like this is used in skin creams to improve skin health, the impact of aging, manage the effects of the sun, and reduce skin irritation.
A study using goji berry extract has shown that it protects DNA damage that causes aging by boosting DNA synthesis in cells.
For this study, mice were given 5 percent goat juice. This has increased the level of antioxidants enough to protect the skin from UV rays and other skin disorders.
Goji berries extract reduces the aging process of the skin, i.e. inhibits glycation, shows a study done on mice.
Consuming foods rich in antioxidants reduces premature skin aging. It also improves overall skin health.
4. Reduce the Risk of Glaucoma and Protect the Eyes
Zeaxanthin is one of the antioxidants contained in goji berries. It protects the eyes from oxidative stress, UV light, and free radicals.
In the earlier study where older people drank 90-day milk-based goji juice, the level of zeaxanthin also increased. It protects the retina from ganglion cells responsible for vision loss in older people or glaucoma.
5. It Boost Immunity
Goji berries increase the level of white blood cells or T lymphocytes, shows this study. This is important for human health because lymphocytes protect the body from viruses and bacteria. The more blood cells the body produces, the more it is resistant to viruses and bacteria.
High levels of Vitamin C and Vitamin A also protect and help to fight various diseases like flu, cancer, cold, etc.
Gojis improve the effect of the flu vaccine. This is important because the flu vaccine does not work for everyone equally. However, this study was done on mice, not on humans and does not represent a substitute for this vaccine.
That the goji berries improve immunity is also shown in a study on older people who consumed juice from this fruit for 30 days. At the end of the study, they showed a significant improvement in immunity compared to the placebo group. This is important because older people are one of the more vulnerable categories.
6. Increases Your Daily Energy
Concentrated goji berry juice increases daily energy and improves overall mood. Studies of animals and humans show this fact.
This concentrated goji juice was consumed by 34 men and women 120 ml daily, 14 days for this study. After that period, they reported increased energy and fitness, and easier exercise. They also reported that they sleep better, feel calmer, and are in a better mood.
The second study was done on mice. They were given a goji berries extract which can enhance the liver glycogen levels and creation of muscle. It also boosted storage of glucose that helps with physical activity.
After exercise, the body produces clearance of blood urea nitrogen and this extract speeds it up. It enables faster recovery after exercise.
7. Maintains Normal Blood Sugar Level
Nuts can affect blood sugar levels due to the antioxidants they contain.
Goji berries extract can reduce blood glucose by 35%, shows this study done on mice with type 2 diabetes.
The same extract was used on mice once daily for three weeks. The results showed increased insulin sensitivity and a decrease in blood sugar after a meal.
Insulin sensitivity is the result of increased absorption of glucose in cells by boosting insulin secretion by the pancreas through the transporter molecule GLUT4.
However, these studies are limited to animals only and require further research.
8. It Helps in Losing Weight
The fact that goji berries are high in fiber and low in sugar makes them an excellent health supplement with very few calories.
Besides that, they have a low glycemic index (GI) which releases sugar slowly in the bloodstream and it provides a feeling of fullness.
They increase metabolic rate and the ability to burn calories by 10 percent. This is a result of a study, in which overweight men and women consumed 120 ml of Goji berries extract.
They have a sweet taste and are a great substitute for other fruits due to their low calories and sugar.
9. Improves Cholesterol Levels
Goji berries extract lowers triglyceride and cholesterol levels and increases “good” cholesterol called HDL. This is the result of a study done on rabbits with high cholesterol that have been treated for 10 days.
The use of goji berries to improve cholesterol is a result of the vitamins and antioxidant polysaccharides contained in the extract.
An earlier study, in which rats with diabetes consumed 10 mg of goji extract for 3 weeks, showed the same results. Cholesterol and triglyceride levels were significantly reduced.
10. It Can Be Aid For Fighting Cancer
Patients with advanced cancer received an extract of goji berries in addition to standard immunotherapy. Thanks to the antioxidants, they have shown a 25 higher rate of cancer regression unlike those who did not take this extract in this study.
Goji berries extract reduces proliferation, and even destroys cancer cells, show this study. Adding this fruit to the diet prevents the development of tumors. Such an effect is also evident in blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and other noni fruit.
They achieve this effect by reducing inflammation in the body and increasing the level of antioxidants.
These studies have been done mainly with concentrated extracts of goji and not only on fruits.
11. Increases Testosterone Levels
Goji berries are used as an alternative to Viagra. Even in traditional medicine, they were used as a treatment for erectile dysfunction.
12. Protects Liver
Goji berries in folk medicine have been used to treat liver-related diseases. Today’s science has had similar results. Studies have shown that this fruit improves the health of the liver from diseases including alcohol damage.
13. It Soothes, Improves Mood and Sleep
A study on humans has shown that goji berries juice improves mood, energy, digestive health, depression, and anxiety.
This study lasted 14 days. On the 15th day, the respondents reported ability to focus, feeling of calmness and contentment, improved energy, mental acuity,enhanced athletic performance, and better quality of sleep
No one has reported any side effects of drinking this juice.
Goji Berries Side Effects
Goji berries do not have any significant side effects for healthy people who do not take any medication. This fruit may interact with some medicines. You should not add goji to your diet if:
- If you are allergic to berries or fruits
- You are using medications for blood pressure, blood thinners, and diabetes drugs.
- It has not yet been determined how it affects pregnant women and nursing mothers, so consult a doctor before adding it to your diet.
- It is very rich with vitamin A. One-fourth cup of goji satisfies 340% of the required dose of vitamin A. You must be careful not to consume too much as it can lead to vitamin A poisoning.
How to Use and Add Goji To Your Diet?
Consuming goji berries twice a day allows you to reap their full benefits.
You can use them fresh and dry. From the dry berries, you can make tea or like fresh ones add it to:
- Yogurt for breakfast
- In sweet sauce
- In cooked dishes
- In meat – Vitamin C allows the body to more easily process and absorb iron from meat.
When buying goji berries, be careful about their composition and quality. Cheaper ones can contain sulfates and cause allergic reactions.
If you have chronic digestive diseases or gastrointestinal issues, consult your doctor before consuming them.
Are They Really That Healthy and Do They Deserve the Nickname “Superfood?”
Beta-carotene in goji berries is the highest compared to other edible plants. It is responsible for the health of the eyes, skin, bones, and cells.
It improves overall physical and mental health. They are especially healthy for older people for whom these vitamins and minerals are most needed.
They got the nickname superfood because of phytochemicals like zeaxanthin, polysaccharides, and beta-carotene. These ingredients are the primary characteristics of goji berries and a major source of dietary fiber. It increases the level of antioxidants and strengthens the overall immunity.
And are they really good? Yes, they are. They may be more expensive, but the benefits they give are really worth it.
Goji berries are great fruits that will refresh your diet.