The berries of the goji plant have been used in traditional Chinese medicine for more than two millennia. But for Americans without a connection to that tradition, these berries might be a new food.
Goji berries have been appreciated for centuries for their ability to boost health, energy, and longevity. Western science is finally catching on, with recent studies confirming the benefits of these small alkalizing red fruits.
All About Goji Berries
Goji berries are produced by a type of boxthorn plant. This family of plants includes other fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, and peppers. You're most likely to encounter the berry in its dried form, which has a bright reddish hue and a sweet, slightly tart flavor.
Ancient Chinese medical texts recorded knowledge of how to grow and use goji berries as far back as 200 BC. They were renowned for the ability to help people sleep, improve athletic performance, and enhance cognitive function. They're still known for these and many other benefits, but now, with a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind these outcomes.
Goji berries are tart reddish berries usually sold dried. They are part of ancient Chinese medical texts and are renowned for their benefits for sleep, physical performance, and cognitive function.
Nutritional Breakdown Of Goji Berries
Goji berries pack a lot of nutrients into a small package, and are notable for their ratio of valuable vitamins and minerals to calories. A serving of five tablespoons of goji berries (about 28 grams) contains the following:
- About 100 calories
- 13 grams of sugar
- 0 grams of fat
- 14 milligrams of Vitamin C (about 25 percent DV)
- 7510 IU Vitamin A (about 134 percent DV)
- 12 milligrams of iron (about 10 percent DV)
- Antioxidant phytochemicals beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, lycopene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and polysaccharides
- 4 grams of protein
- 18 amino acids (including 11 essential amino acids)
- 3 grams of fiber
The nutritional breakdown of goji berries is notable for several reasons. First is the high antioxidant value. Dried goji berries have a higher oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) score than apples and raisins. They score just below blueberries and pomegranate seeds, making them exemplary sources of protection from oxidative damage.
Goji berries shine for their extraordinary amino acid content. It's unusual for a fruit to provide amino acids, and these berries offer 11 “essential” ones– meaning the body can't produce them internally.
Finally, their content of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and iron make them a great source of bone-building Foundation Supplements.
The nutritional breakdown of a serving of goji berries includes no fat, only 100 calories, and a significant amount of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, fiber, and essential amino acids.
Health Benefits Of Goji Berries
The wide variety of nutrients and antioxidant compounds in goji berries results in an impressive set of health benefits. Here are some of the most significant and well-documented effects.
Goji Berries Protect Your Eyesight – Goji berries' antioxidant levels also exert their photoprotective power to prevent aging-related vision loss. One study found that drinking goji berry juice for 90 days increased antioxidant levels and protected eyes from damage. This may prevent macular degeneration and glaucoma.3
Goji Berries Boost Your Immune System – The antioxidants in goji berries are known for their immune-boosting qualities. They prevent cellular damage caused by free radicals and help to reduce inflammation. Carotenoids like zeaxanthin have even been shown to battle cancerous cells.1
Goji Berries Support Healthy Skin – The beta-carotene in goji berries gives them their fiery red color. Once it's absorbed by your digestive system, it helps promote healthy skin. Studies have linked drinking goji berry juice to protection from UV light damage. This photoprotective quality is particularly valuable for people who are prone to skin cancer.2
Goji Berries Boost Energy And Mood – Studies have found that regularly drinking goji berry juice can boost energy levels, mood, and even digestive health. That energy boost can make goji berries a great snack before you take on a big task or prepare for your workout.4
Goji Berries Stabilize Blood Sugar – Goji berries help prevent blood sugar spikes and dips. This helps provide consistent energy. It's also useful for people with diabetes or anyone striving to balance their blood glucose levels.
The health benefits of goji berries include support for your eyesight, immune system, skin, energy, mood, and blood sugar stabilization.
Goji Berries And Bone Health
Many of the health benefits described above combine to make goji berries a powerfully bone-protective food.
Antioxidants protect bone and the bone remodeling process from oxidative damage, allowing osteoblasts to carry out the work of creating new bone mass. Those same antioxidants protect the liver, which is essential for preventing bone-loss caused by chronic acidification.
The blood sugar stabilization offered by goji berries also helps protect bone. High levels of sugar in the blood impair your body's ability to absorb or regulate essential minerals like calcium, magnesium, and copper.5,6,7
Strong eyesight is essential for preventing falls and fractures. By protecting your vision, goji berries are also protecting your bones.
Taken all together, these benefits make goji berries a must-have for Savers. Fortunately, they're more widely available now than ever and are easy to make a part of your bone-building diet.
The health benefits of goji berries protect bone in a number of ways: by preventing oxidative damage, detoxifying the liver, \stabilizing blood sugar levels, and protecting eyesight.
A Recipe Featuring Goji Berries
Goji berries are surprisingly versatile. Try incorporating them into your diet in these ways:
- Add them to homemade granola (or granola bars!)
- Add them to your yogurt or oatmeal
- Add to trail mixes
- Use as a topping in a salad
- Add to baked goods like scones or muffins
- Use as a garnish for roasted vegetables
- Add to a dessert
They also make an excellent ingredient in smoothies. Just soften them up first by soaking them in water. That's a great tip for other uses if you find their dried texture unappealing.
Berry Healthy Smoothie
- 1 cup almond milk (or your favorite alkalizing non-dairy milk)
- 1 frozen banana, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon goji berries, previously soaked in water for at least 10 minutes
- A handful of strawberries or raspberries
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Goji berries are easy to incorporate into your diet. Try adding them to granolas, yogurt, oatmeal, salads, baked goods, or use them as garnishes.
What This Means To You
Whether you're mixing them into your breakfast yogurt, baking them into a muffin, or simply eating a handful as a health-boosting snack, goji berries might just be your new favorite fruit!
Find more new culinary joys in the Save Institute's cookbook and meal planner Bone Appétit. It uses a wide variety of bone-healthy ingredients that might not already be part of your daily diet.
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
Discover over 200 mouth-watering bone healthy recipes for breakfast, smoothies, appetizers, soups, salads, vegetarian dishes, fish, and plenty of main courses and even desserts!
Exploring new foods is a great way to nurture your ability to grow and change in ways that improve your health and quality of life.