Goji Berries: Health Benefits, Nutrition, Uses & Side Effects 2022

Sevginur Akdas

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

goji berry benefits

Goji berry (known as Lycium fruit, Lycium barbarum, or wolfberry) is a traditional fruit to people in southern Asia. Dried goji berries are commonly consumed in soups or herbal tea and have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years. 

More recently, the goji berry health benefits have become well-known worldwide. People consume it as a healthy snack, herbal tea, in powder form, or as goji berry supplements. 

In this article, we examine the various goji berry benefits.

9 Health Benefits of Goji Berries

  1. Goji berry’s health benefits mechanism of action
  2. Anti-aging & anticancer effects
  3. Cardioprotective effects
  4. Anti-diabetic and anti-obesity effects
  5. Boost digestive health
  6. Improve skin and hair health
  7. Support eye health
  8. Benefits for females
  9. Benefits for male

Health Benefits of Goji Berries

Goji berry is accepted as a “superfruit[1] or “superfood” both in Europe and USA. Goji berry has been well-known in traditional Chinese herbal medicine for many years.

The biomolecular and clinical aspects demonstrated in peer-reviewed articles on goji berry document several health-promoting properties, such as anti-aging, anticancer, cardioprotective, immune system boosting, and anti-diabetic. It can also support healthy vision[2].

Goji Berry Health Benefits Mechanism of Action

The bioactive compounds and micronutrient contents of goji berries are responsible for their health-promoting effects. 

Like other superfoods, goji berries are an excellent source of macronutrients, micronutrients (trace minerals and vitamins), special bioactive compounds, and healthy antioxidants. 

Its riboflavin, thiamine, nicotinic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene, copper, manganese, magnesium, and selenium makes goji berry a functional food as these components are well-established as offering benefit for several diseases. 

Goji berry contains polysaccharides, carotenoids, and phenolic elements, which have high antioxidant activity in physiological mechanisms. This contributes to its beneficial health effects.

Anti-Aging & Anticancer Effects

Goji berry’s carotenoid content supports immune function and may inhibit[3] colon cancer cells.

The potential health benefits of goji berry against cancer cells may be due to[4] its role in enhancing phagocytosis (consumption by immune cells) of cancer cells.  

Goji berries may have beneficial effects due to their betaine content[5]. It is well known that betaine[6] is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory agents associated with fighting colon and other cancers.

Goji berries have anti-aging effects due to their antioxidant properties to scavenge the free radicals produced in our day-to-day physiology–substances that cause damage and age us. It also may help prevent mental and neuronal function loss due to this age-related oxidative stress. 

Cardioprotective Effects

The polysaccharide, vitamin, and antioxidant content of the goji berry can regulate blood sugar and possibly cause favorable lipid-lowering effects[7]. Goji berry intake increases plasma antioxidant levels, which help to improve cardiovascular health.

The study results obtained[8] from 25 individuals aged 64-80 years who consumed 50 grams/day of goji berries showed lower (by 65%) blood lipid peroxides levels after ten days.

Another study[9] in healthy adults aged 55-72 determined that drinking 120 milliliters/day of goji berry juice for 30 days significantly enhanced antioxidant properties, which decreased the number of unstable fat molecules leading to vascular degeneration and heart disease .

Animal studies corroborated the same health benefits. One experiment[10] centering on elevated cholesterol demonstrated lipid-lowering and improved blood sugar due to goji berries. Another animal study[11] also showed goji berry plant benefits high blood pressure. 

Anti-Diabetic And Anti-Obesity Effects

Diabetes mellitus is a very common chronic disease. It is costly to treat, and antidiabetic agents can have adverse effects.

It was shown that[7] polysaccharides, several monosaccharides, and amino acids present in goji berries support healthier blood sugar levels. 

Furthermore, diabetic rats treated with goji berry extract showed[12] significantly decreased blood glucose concentrations.

Purified goji berry polysaccharide decreased[7] high blood glucose levels in diabetic rabbits, too.

A meta-analysis[13] of six different clinical studies showed that goji berry consumption has significant effects on blood glucose.

One study conducted with gestational diabetic patients[14] (diabetes during pregnancy) revealed one specific type of goji berry lipopolysaccharide reduced insulin resistance and increased insulin secretion to have a positive effect on diabetes.

It also demonstrated improvement in lipids by lowering LDL (“bad”) and raising HDL (“good”) cholesterols.

Goji berry juice consumption may help support[15] weight loss and lower waist circumference by increasing energy expenditure in overweight adults. It also reduces[16] abdominal fat in metabolic syndrome patients.

Improve Digestive Health

It was seen in a recent animal study[17] that goji berry modulates gut health and fecal microbiota and supports digestive health. 

Also, goji berry extract showed[18] protective effects against gastric ulcers by suppressing harmful free radicals. 

Similarly, goji berries were indicated to treat liver disease. It was shown[19] to reduce toxicity via its antioxidants to protect liver health.

There is also a strong[20] relationship between digestive health (your microbiome) and weight loss. 

Improve Skin And Hair Health

Berries, in general, are important for hair health and skin health

Goji berries benefit the skin by their polysaccharide content, which supports skin cell function and division. It protects skin cells from oxidative stress; thus, healthy cells promote healthy skin. 

These results indicate that it may be an effective treatment for skin disorders related to cell dysfunction, such as vitiligo[21]. Because of its anticancer properties, the goji berry may lower the risk of skin cancer. 

One study observed[22] goji berry benefits hair. The goji berry polysaccharide treatment prevents hair cell loss by reducing the oxidation and reactive oxygen species to preserve the cells’ mitochondrial activity.

Support Eye Health

The high amount of carotenoids, especially beta carotene, has been drawing attention[23] among other berries with antioxidant properties. The goji berry’s antioxidants may provide beneficial effects on vision and reduce the risk of macular degeneration.

Zeaxanthin[24] is the major carotenoid, by volume (almost 60% of the total carotenoid[24] content), of the goji berry. This carotenoid converts to active vitamin A in the body. The eye protective effects of goji berries were shown both in animal and human studies.

The goji berry polysaccharide content can also prevent glaucoma[25] (eye health conditions related to optic nerve damage) by inhibiting the cell death mechanism. It provides protective effects for nerve cells in the retina. 

Furthermore, it was established that goji berry protects the eye from retinal injury[26] related to diabetes.

According to a randomized controlled study on the elderly, goji berry intake showed benefits for age-related macular degeneration. 

Goji berry intake also increases[27] macular pigment optical density, important since if it decreases, it can lead to blindness. 

Goji Berry Benefits for Females

With 20 grams of dried goji berries, a woman can[28] receive a percentage of her daily needs of several nutrients such as 8% iron, 6% manganese, 27% of zinc, 18% of copper, and 32% chromium.

One of the most important goji berries benefits for females is its role in fertility and hormonal health. It was shown in an animal study[29] that goji berry promotes reproductive health by increasing the secretion of luteinizing hormone and estrogen. 

Moreover, it induced higher milk production after giving birth. One must, of course, use caution in interpreting the results of animal studies and applying them to humans; still, it’s a good start as the relationship may be valid.

Goji Berry Benefits For Male

A man can get[28] 17% of iron, 5% of manganese, 25% of zinc, 18% of copper, and 22% of chromium daily values (DV) from 20 grams of dried goji berries.

Research indicates the important male reproductive health benefits of goji berry, as the LH increased cited above applies to men, too.

Nutrition Facts

The goji berry is a nutrient-rich fruit that leads to plenty of health benefits from its micronutrients and bioactive compounds. The goji berry nutrient content[30] is mainly dietary fiber, carbohydrates, and protein.

One hundred grams of dried goji berry contains

  • 77 grams of total carbohydrate
  • 13 grams of dietary fiber
  • 14 grams of total protein
  • 0.4 grams of total fat

The Trace Mineral and Vitamin Content of Goji Berry

100 grams of dried goji berry’s contribution[31]–recommended daily dietary intake of minerals;

  • Copper: 84%
  • Potassium: 44%
  • Manganese: 26%
  • Phosphorus: 25%
  • Iron: 24%
  • Zinc: 15%
  • Calcium: 13% 
  • Vitamin C: 50%
  • Vitamin E: 16%

Potential Side Effects

Allergic reactions are possible after goji berry ingestion.

There are three case reports showing interactions between goji berries and warfarin. Warfarin is a commonly prescribed blood thinner medication. This may be due to its anticoagulation[32] (anti-clotting) effects. 

Bleeding from the rectum and nose was even observed in a patient drinking goji berry juice. Consuming goji berries too much may also cause liver function enzymes to rise[33].

How To Add Goji Berries To Your Diet?

In recent years, consumer interest in different types of berries, their juices, powders, and capsules has increased rapidly due to their beneficial effects on different health conditions.

Dried goji berries can be added to breakfast cereals, muesli, and granola to boost nutrition. In addition, it pairs nicely with milk and yogurt.

Apart from these, just like in ancient Chinese traditions, tea and soups containing dried goji berries can be consumed as alternative and complementary medicine. 

Goji berries can be added to sugar-free muffins when developing healthy dessert alternatives. Many people also get goji berry powder benefits. It can be added to smoothies or breakfast bowls in moderation. 

Many studies have shown that goji berry juice and goji berry extracts can also be consumed. Goji berry juice can be easily prepared at home using dried goji berry fruit. 

The amount[23] of goji berry varies, between 15-30 grams when the fruit itself is consumed and 6-18 grams when it comes to the extract formulations.

The Bottom Line: Is Goji Berry Good for You?

Goji berries have a high antioxidant potential that alleviates oxidative stress, contributing to many health benefits. It decreases free radicals, which cause damage to and age the body. It offers good protection through the synergistic effects of its many antioxidant components. 

Therefore, health and wellness professionals suggest eating goji berries. Adding goji berries to your daily diet may contribute to improved vision and eye health, improved vascular function, heart health, a healthy immune system, enhanced metabolism, healthy skin and hair, and a better-functioning reproductive system.

+ 33 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

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Sevginur Akdas

Written by:

Sevginur Akdas, RD

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

Sevginur Akdas is a researcher, medical writer, and clinical dietitian, who is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in metabolism, chronic diseases, and clinical nutrition fields. She has many scientific articles, meta-analyses, systematic reviews, and book chapters on nutrition, chronic diseases, dietary supplements, maternal and child nutrition, molecular nutrition & functional foods topics as a part of a research team currently. Besides her academic background, she is also a professional health&medical writer since 2017.

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

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