Goji berry; Types, Nutritional Value, Recipes, Health Benefits

Goji berry; Types, Nutritional Value, Recipes, Health Benefits

Goji berry/wolfberry is the fruit of either Lycium barbarum or Lycium chinense, two closely related species of boxthorn in the nightshade family, Solanaceae.[1]Both species are native to Asia and have been long used in traditional Asian cuisine. The fruits are similar but can be distinguished by small but significant differences in taste, sugar content, and content of the amino acid betaine.[2]

Goji is not only used as food and medicine in China, but also in Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The whole plant, including the berries, leaves, roots, and root bark, has been used for medicinal purposes. In traditional medicine, goji berries were used to cure liver diseases, infertility, abdominal pain, dry cough, fatigue, and headaches. It was considered to be a tonic that increased longevity.[3]

Nutritional Value of Goji berry

Nutritional Value Value
Water [g] 7.5
Energy [kcal] 349
Protein [g] 14.26
Total lipid (fat) [g] 0.39
Carbohydrate, by difference [g] 77.06
Fiber, total dietary [g] 13
Sugars, total [g] 45.61
Calcium, Ca [mg] 190
Iron, Fe [mg] 6.8
Sodium, Na [mg] 298
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg] 48.4
Vitamin A, IU [IU] 26822
Fatty acids, total saturated [g] 0
Fatty acids, total trans [g] 0
Cholesterol [mg] 0
Sources include : USDA 
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Health Benefits of Goji berry

  • Prevents Diabetes – Diabetes has emerged as one of the major diseases in the world in modern times. Controlling or preventing diabetes is absolutely necessary, as it can lead to the development of several other diseases such as obesity, heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and ocular diseases. One of the major health benefits of consuming goji berries is that it can help in controlling diabetes. Recent studies suggest that the fruit extracts of goji berries possess considerable hypoglycemic properties.[5]
  • Controls Cholesterol Levels – Cholesterol is one of the major reasons for the development of heart diseases. Cholesterol forms plaque-like structures inside the blood vessels and arteries that obstruct the blood flow. This, in turn, causes the heart to pump with a higher force, resulting in heart weakening, which can be followed by a heart attack. For starters, cholesterol is of two types. One is HDL or high-density lipid cholesterol, which is good cholesterol, and the other is LDL or low-density lipid cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol. It is the LDL or bad cholesterol that forms plaque and leads to heart weakening. Recent studies have shown that the intake of goji berries reduces LDL cholesterol levels.[6]
  • Free Radical Scavenging – Antioxidants, as the name suggests, are a wide range of chemicals that react and neutralize the action of free radicals produced in our body. Free radicals, if left alone, can damage our tissues, cells, cell membranes, and DNA over time, resulting in the development of various diseases. Research has suggested that the consumption of goji may help in the reduction of medical conditions related to free radicals. [7] The antioxidants present in goji berry also help in boosting the immune system.
  • Cardiovascular Protection – Free radicals can attack the heart, just like any other organ. Although this happens over a long period of time, it is still required to take precautionary measures. Goji berry contains anti-oxidant chemicals that protect the heart from the attack of free radicals. Recent studies have noted significant free radical scavenging in the heart by goji berry extracts. [8]
  • Maintains Healthy Body – The health benefits of goji berry include general well-being and a healthy body. Results of a study conducted suggest that consumption of goji berry enhances and improves gastrointestinal functions and reduces stress and fatigue. [9] It also improves neurological and psychological performance as well.
  • Anti-cancer Properties – Goji berry was not only eaten as food in ancient days; the Chinese also used it to treat cancer in their traditional medicine. Scientific investigations about goji berry extracts revealed various anti-cancerous properties. [10] They were tested on human cancer cells, which showed considerable control over their growth. Apoptosis, or sudden cell death, was observed for cancer cells when goji berry extracts were administered.
  • Protects Brain Cells – Free radicals can attack neurons or brain cells and these damaged brain cells can develop neurodegenerative diseases. These diseases can be effectively countered by consuming goji berry. Goji berry extracts have shown significant neuroprotective activity. The team that conducted research ascertained that goji berry possesses anti-aging effects and has suggested it as a preventive medicine. [11] 
  • Prevents Liver Damage – The liver is one of the most resilient organs in our body and it can protect itself from chemical, free radical, and physical damages. Goji berry has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine to treat liver diseases. [12] The extracts of goji berry showed free radical scavenging and other protective properties in terms of maintaining liver health. [13] 
  • Skin Care – Ultraviolet radiation is one of the threats that we are all facing, due to the depletion of the ozone layer in several parts of the world. The exposure of the skin to UV radiation can result in skin damage and even skin cancer in extreme cases. We can reduce this risk by consuming goji berries. Studies have shown that goji berries significantly reduce skin inflammation and immune suppression, owing to their antioxidant potential. [14]
  • Improves Sleep Quality – Some of the traditional Chinese uses of goji berry were to induce sleep and reduce stress. Research has shown that goji berry, when given to human subjects, improved their quality of sleep significantly without having any adverse effects. [15] 
  • Increases Semen & Sperm Quality – Goji berry has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine as an aphrodisiac. Scientific studies on the aphrodisiac properties of goji berry concluded that it can reduce damage caused to the testes and provide protection against oxidative stress due to the presence of hydrogen peroxide in it. [16] Hydrogen peroxide can decrease semen count as well as sperm quality.
  • Can Regulate Blood Pressure Levels – The polysaccharides in the berries can be credited to their anti-hypertensive properties. In fact, these berries have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to regulate blood pressure levels. As per a Chinese study, the polysaccharides in the berries can help lower blood pressure levels and prevent related diseases (17).
  • Boost Vision Health – Goji berries are exceptionally rich in zeaxanthin, an antioxidant known for its superb benefits for the eyes. They are often considered a natural treatment for age-related macular degeneration. The zeaxanthin in the berries also protects the eyes from UV exposure, free radicals, and various other forms of oxidative stress. Drinking goji berry juice regularly for 90 days was found to increase plasma zeaxanthin concentration, and this could protect the eyes from hypopigmentation and other forms of oxidative stress that can damage the macula (18). Other studies show how the berries can serve as a natural treatment for glaucoma (19).
  • Goji Berries Improve Lung Health -Studies showed how taking a goji berry supplement for four weeks decreased inflammation in the lungs and increased white blood cell activity against lung diseases like influenza. Goji berries can also boost immunity, which has a desirable impact on lung health (20).  This property can also help treat respiratory ailments like asthma.
  • Can Help Balance Hormones – Some research says that goji berries can be used to treat yin deficiency and restore hormonal health and balance (21).
  • Enhance Fertility And Sexual Health – Studies have shown that goji berries can increase testosterone levels in men, thereby improving their sexual health. They can also work as a potential alternative remedy for erectile dysfunction. Research also states that the berries can exhibit fertility-enhancing effects in men (22).
  • Goji Berries Fight Depression – Goji berries are rich in B and C vitamins and also contain manganese and fiber – all of these nutrients elevate your energy levels and are known to enhance positivity. The berries have also been used in traditional Chinese medicine to fight depression and other anxiety and mood disorders. Studies have also shown that regular intake of goji berry juice can increase energy levels and enhance mood.
  • Detoxify The Liver – The berries are often used along with other traditional herbs like licorice and Ganoderma in liver cleanses. As per traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries benefit both the liver and kidneys and restore the strength and vitality of the individual. Some sources say this aspect of the berries also makes them a natural remedy for kidney stones – but we recommend you talk to your doctor before taking them for this purpose.
  • Might Alleviate Pain – Goji berries have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help relieve pain – with arthritic pain being one of them. However, there is little information on whether the berries can alleviate muscle pain as well.
  • Can Enhance Muscle Growth – Goji berries contain 18 amino acids, which can aid muscle growth. Goji berry extract can also enhance the production of muscle and liver glycogen, and this consequently helps you stay physically active for long periods. The berries also contain good amounts of protein – another reason they can enhance muscle growth (23).
  • Goji Berries Might Repair Tanned Skin – The berries work well for treating hyperpigmentation as well. They are rich in vitamin C, beta-carotene, and amino acids – all of which improve your complexion and make your skin glow. You can include the berries in your regular diet. You can also make a paste of the berries and apply to your face. Leave it on for 15 minutes and then rinse with cold water. Doing this once daily can give you results.
  • Can Help Treat Acne This can be attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of the berries. They treat skin inflammation and help reduce and prevent acne breakouts. Drinking the juice can treat inflammation from within, which could also be contributing to your acne breakouts. Additionally, you can also apply goji berry juice or extract to your face and rinse with cold water after 15 minutes. The berries can also firm up your skin (as they are rich in vitamin C that helps build skin) and reduce wrinkles too. This basically means you can also use them for their anti-aging benefits.
  • Boost Hair Growth – Goji berries are rich in vitamin A, a nutrient known to enhance blood circulation. This also improves circulation to the scalp, thereby boosting hair growth and preventing hair fall. And like we say, the berries are also rich in vitamin C. This nutrient helps in the absorption of iron, which is also essential for hair growth.[24]



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