Goji Berry Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Goji berry annotated

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

Goji berry (Lycium barbarum) is an ancient fruit popular in traditional Chinese medicine. It's a red berry that grows on an evergreen shrub native to China, Mongolia, and the Tibetan Himalayas. If you have ever wondered whether goji berries actually live up to their superfood reputation, you will be impressed to find out that 1 ounce of raw goji berries contains 250% of the daily requirement for vitamin C. With lots of fiber, and phytochemicals, goji berries are a nutritious way to flavor your plate.

Goji Berry Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 3 tablespoons (17g) of dried goji berries.

  • Calories: 59
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 50mg
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 2.2g
  • Sugars: 7.7g
  • Protein: 2.4g

Carbs

A 3-tablespoon serving of dried goji berries has 13 grams of carbohydrates. This includes just over 2 grams of fiber and almost 8 grams of natural sugars.

Fats

Goji berries contain minimal fat with less than just 0.1 gram per serving.

Protein

When it comes to fruit, goji berries are higher in protein than most. A 3-tablespoon serving of dried goji berries provides 2.4 grams of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Goji berries are a good source of vitamin C. Three tablespoons of dried goji berries provide just over 8 milligrams of vitamin C, which is about 11% of the recommended dietary allowance for adult women and 9% for men.

Goji berries also provide some iron, B vitamins, copper, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. Their orange-red color is due to carotenoids, including zeaxanthin.

Health Benefits

Goji berries have long been popular in ancient Chinese medicine. Their rich vitamin and antioxidant content is responsible for many of the health benefits which are now supported by modern science.

Slows Vision Loss

Supplementing with goji berries for a period of 90 days has been shown to increase the concentration at lutein and zeaxanthin in the retina. These forms of vitamin A are known to support eye health and halt the progression of vision loss from age-related macular degeneration. Goji berry improves visual acuity in these patients, suggesting that goji berries can effectively supplement other treatments for the disease.

Prevents High Blood Sugar

Lycium barbarum polysaccharide (LPB) is an active component of goji berry used in traditional Chinese medicine. In a randomized controlled clinical trial, LPB demonstrated effectiveness in lowering blood sugar for patients with diabetes. Additional benefits were also observed, such as increases in HDL ("good cholesterol").

It seems that goji berry can assist with diabetes treatment, especially for those who have trouble keeping blood sugars down through dietary changes alone. To prevent blood sugar from going too low, speak to your doctor about adding goji berry to your diabetes management plan.

Reduces Cholesterol

In addition to boosting HDL levels, goji berries are high in cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber. With about 4 grams of fiber per ounce (dried), snacking on goji berries can help you get closer to the daily recommendation of 25–35 grams per day. Bringing down "bad cholesterol" levels (LDL) and triglycerides with fruits like goji berry is a natural and effective way to keep cholesterol levels and promote heart health.

May Help Lower Cancer Risk

Adequate intake of vitamin C through the regular consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with reduced risk of several types of cancer, including lung, breast, esophageal, and stomach cancer. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps scavenge free radicals to prevent cellular damage.

Goji berries are loaded with vitamin C, offering 150 milligrams per ounce (raw). Including goji berries in your arsenal of antioxidant superfoods keeps your cells young and healthy.

Promotes Wound Healing

In addition to cancer-preventing effects, vitamin C is a precursor to collagen, a vital component of connective tissue. The body's ability to heal from injuries relies on the formation of new collagen. For this reason, the intake of vitamin C from foods like goji berries is essential. Give your body every advantage for healthy skin by making sure high-vitamin-C foods are part of your meal plan.

Allergies

Allergy to goji berry is associated with allergies to peach peel and a protein called panallergen nonspecific lipid transfer protein. Goji berry allergies can produce symptoms like hives, nausea, dizziness, or wheezing. If you suspect an allergy to goji berries, see an allergist to discuss your concerns.

Adverse Effects

The high fiber content of goji berries can be difficult to digest if you aren't used to eating a lot of fiber. Increase your intake gradually to avoid digestive discomfort.

Because goji berries have blood-sugar-lowering effects, it's important to be mindful of other medications you may be taking that cause the same effect to avoid episodes of hypoglycemia.

Goji berry has also been reported to interact with the blood thinner Coumadin (warfarin), leading to increased bleeding after drinking goji berry juice, tea, and wine. High intake of goji berry tea has also been linked to liver toxicity. For the safest consumption and full health benefits, choose fresh or dried goji berries, rather than teas and supplements.

Varieties

There are two varieties of goji berry available in the United States and Canada. Crimson Star and Phoenix Tears are accessible to anyone. Sask Wolfberry is a variety offered to co-op growers from a Canadian Company called Wolfberry Agrodevco.

When It's Best

It's tough to find fresh goji berries in the United States because they have a short shelf-life and aren't widely grown for commercial use. You may find them at a farmers market or specialty store. They can also be grown at home.

In the supermarket, you're more likely to find goji berries sold as dried berries, powder, juice, tea, and capsules. Goji berries are harvested in late summer to early autumn and sun-dried.

Storage and Food Safety

Goji berries are delicate and leak if they become slightly bruised or damaged. If you find fresh goji berries, try to use them right away. Don't wash until you're ready to eat or dry them. Dry goji berries and goji berry products have a long shelf life and should be used by the date specified on the label.

How to Prepare

Dry goji berries are usually cooked before consumption. To make your own tea, let dry goji berries sit in hot water for 5–10 minutes and enjoy. Goji berries can also be pickled for preservation. Add rehydrated goji berries to fruit smoothies or as a tart ingredient in savory dishes.

Recipes

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