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What are Goji Berries?
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are small red fruits that are rich in antioxidants and possess powerful medicinal properties. Apart from being visually appealing, they have a delicious and distinctive flavor, making them a great addition to any meal.
Goji berries are commonly sold in dried or powdered forms, and are often added to supplements and juice blends. Originating from Asia, these berries have been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years due to their sweet and slightly sour taste, as well as their vibrant red color. They are reputed to help slow down the signs of aging, promote eye health, and strengthen the liver, kidneys, and lungs (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source).
As goji berries continue to gain popularity, they are also frequently included in superfood blends, supplements, and recipes alongside other fruits, herbs, and extracts. They are available in both dried and powdered forms, making them a versatile ingredient to incorporate into a wide range of dishes.
Potential health benefits
Goji berries are highly nutritious and an excellent source of various vitamins and minerals. Just 5 tablespoons (28 grams) of dried goji berries contain (3Trusted Source):
Protein: 4 grams
Fat: 0.1 grams
Carbs: 21.6 grams
Fiber: 3.6 grams
Sugar: 21.8 grams
Iron: 11% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin A: 501% of the DV
Vitamin C: 15% of the DV
This small serving size provides a significant amount of fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C (3Trusted Source). Iron is an essential mineral that is involved in the production of red blood cells and the transport of oxygen, while vitamins A and C are vital for immune function and act as antioxidants in the body (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Antioxidants are beneficial compounds that neutralize harmful molecules called free radicals, thereby preventing cell damage (1Trusted Source). In one test-tube study, treating cells with goji berry extract increased antioxidant levels and reduced markers of oxidative stress (7Trusted Source).
Research suggests that consuming more antioxidants can reduce inflammation and protect against chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
May support immune function
Goji berries have been traditionally used in natural medicine to boost immunity and prevent infections. A 30-day study conducted on 60 older adults found that consuming 4 ounces (120 mL) of goji berry juice per day enhanced immune cells’ levels and improved overall well-being. Similarly, a 3-month study on 150 older adults showed that goji berry supplements improved their immune response to an influenza vaccine. These findings are also supported by animal research. However, more studies are necessary to confirm these immune-boosting benefits.
May promote eye health
Goji berries have shown promise in enhancing eye health and protecting against eye disorders such as macular degeneration, a condition that can lead to vision loss. Studies have demonstrated that supplementing with goji berries increased blood antioxidant levels, prevented hypopigmentation of the macula, and helped soften fatty protein deposits under the retina.
In addition, daily goji berry supplements have been shown to improve the density of macular pigment in people with early macular degeneration, potentially protecting against progression of the disease. Goji berries are rich in antioxidants like zeaxanthin, which can safeguard your retinas and lenses from harm.
For most healthy adults, goji berries can be included in their diet in moderation as a part of a balanced meal plan. However, it is important to note that in rare cases, goji berries may cause an allergic reaction, especially in individuals who are allergic to other fruits (17Trusted Source, 18Trusted Source).
Moreover, goji berries may interact with certain medications, including blood thinners, diabetes medications, or medications for high blood pressure (1Trusted Source). It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medications before incorporating goji berries into your diet.
Furthermore, if you are pregnant, you should be careful as goji berries contain betaine, which may potentially harm fetal health. Although further research is needed to determine whether goji berries are safe during pregnancy (19Trusted Source), pregnant women should exercise caution and talk to their healthcare provider before consuming goji berries.