Goji Berry Health Benefits

Goji berry, Image from Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as wolfberry, goji berry is the commercial name of the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium chinense and Lycium barbarum. These plants belong to the Solanaceae family in which eggplant, tomato, potato, chili pepper, and tobacco belong. Goji berry is native to China and Southeastern Europe. Its other names include Chinese wolfberry, red medlar, matrimony vine, bocksdorn, Duke of Argyll’s tea tree, Tibetan goji, and Himalayan goji.

Goji berry fruit is bright orange-red and ellipsoid in shape. It is produced by a deciduous woody perennial plant that grows up to 3 meters high. Found inside goji berries are 10-60 tiny yellow seeds.

Goji berries have both culinary and medicinal uses. Dried goji berries are added to rice congee, almond jelly, soups, and in combination with pork or chicken, vegetables, and other herbs like licorice, wild yam, and astragalus. They are also boiled to make herbal tea, usually in combination with other traditional Chinese herbs. They can be fermented to make wine.

Goji berries have many uses in Traditional Chinese medicine. It is believed that eating goji berries prolongs life, enhance fertility, and promote general well-being.

At the beginning of this century, goji berry became a very popular “superfruit” worldwide. It has been widely marketed online and offline using health claims with inadequate scientific proofs. Marketers have “exaggerated” the health benefits of goji berries to sale tons and tons of goji berry products at very expensive prices. For example, some marketers claimed that the Chinese man named Li Qing Yen lived 252 years just by eating goji berries daily. There is no doubt that this claim was fabricated just to boost the sale of goji berry. Marketers have differentiated goji berry with other berries, fruits, or herbs to make millions of dollars.

It is true that goji berry has many health benefits but it is not more superior to other nutritious fruits and vegetables, contrary to what marketers want us to believe. Continue reading to learn the nutritional content and claimed health benefits of goji berry. Plus, get to know the scientific researches on goji berry which were published in reputable peer-reviewed journals.

Goji Berry Nutritional Content

Goji berry contains amino acids, fatty acids, complex polysaccharides, calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, selenium, Vitamin C, riboflavin, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, lycopene, cryptoxanthin, xanthophylls, phenols, phytosterols, and other vitamins and minerals.

Claimed Health Benefits

  • Reduce blood sugar
  • Reduce serum lipids
  • Immunomodulation
  • Anticancer
  • Anti-aging
  • Antifatigue
  • Increase male fertility
  • Improve eyesight
  • Improve circulation
  • Prevent and treat diabetes
  • Treat male infertility
  • Boost sperm production
  • Protect the liver
  • Promote longevity

Goji Berry as Great Source of Antioxidants

The antioxidants found in goji berry are Vitamin C, lycopene, lutein, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, and xanthophylls. These antioxidants protect the body from free radical damage. Free radicals are reactive compounds that damages cells and DNA, causing cancer, premature aging, heart disease, neurodegenerative disorders, and metabolic diseases.

Carotenoids like beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin have been shown to protect the eye retina by absorbing blue light and by acting as antioxidant. Studies show that increased intake of fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids like goji berry may decrease the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration, the major cause of vision loss and blindness in people over the age of 65.

Selected Researches on Goji Berry