What are goji berries?
Goji berries, also known as wolfberries, are a reddish-orange berry with a slightly sweet and usually a bit sour in flavor.
One variety of goji berries has a flavor almost like a tomato while another leans more toward the tanginess side of the berry family — closer to a raspberry in flavor.
Goji berries have long been used as a central ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine, and the vast majority of goji berries sold in the United States are still imported from China.
Frequently marketed as a superfood, goji berries are almost always sold dried (rather than fresh) can usually be found in the supplement section or occasionally in the bulk foods section at natural foods stores and organic co-ops, or, check out your local Asian grocery for a better price on goji berries.
Some larger Asian groceries will also stock frozen goji berries in the freezer section.
Raw vegan goji berry varieties (which are labeled raw or sold on raw vegan food websites) are carefully collected and dried at low temperatures specifically for those on a raw vegan food diet.
Since they must be dried in order to preserve them for shipping and improve their shelf-life, the texture and consistency leave a bit to be desired from a chef’s perspective.
Health Benefits Of Goji Berries
May Improve Blood Sugar Control
Animal and test-tube studies have shown that goji berry extract may have positive effects on blood sugar control.
One study gave goji berry polysaccharide extract to rats with type 2 diabetes for four weeks. The researchers found that blood glucose levels decreased in nearly 35 percent of the rats.
Another study found the same thing. Rats with type 2 diabetes that consumed goji berry extract daily for three weeks had lower blood sugar levels after eating, as well as increased insulin sensitivity.
These positive effects on blood sugar are strongly linked to the antioxidant activity of goji berry extract.
Studies in this area have shown that goji berry extract promotes insulin sensitivity by increasing the absorption of glucose into cells through the transporter molecule GLUT4 and by boosting insulin secretion by the pancreas.
However, these studies are limited to animals, so it’s not clear if humans would experience the same positive effects. More research in humans is needed.
May Boost Energy Levels
Consuming concentrated goji berry extract or juice has been linked to improved energy and feelings of overall well-being.
When mice were given goji berry extract, they adapted more quickly to particular exercises. They also showed improved performance and better recovery after an exercise test.
It’s thought that goji berry extract could enhance the creation of muscle and liver glycogen, a storage form of glucose that helps you maintain physical activity.
It may also speed up the clearance of blood urea nitrogen, a waste product your body produces after strenuous exercise.
Similar results were found in humans. In one controlled study, 34 healthy men and women consumed 4 ounces (120 ml) of concentrated goji berry juice for 14 days.
As a result, they reported increased energy, better exercise performance, improved quality of sleep and reduced stress and fatigue compared to before they began consuming the juice. They also reported feeling happier and more content.
May Improve Cholesterol Levels
Animal studies have shown that taking goji berry extract may have positive effects on cholesterol levels.
When rabbits with high cholesterol were treated with goji berry extract for 10 days, their total cholesterol and triglyceride levels decreased and their “good” HDL cholesterol increased.
The authors of the study suggested the improved cholesterol levels were likely caused by the antioxidant polysaccharides and vitamins in the goji berry extract.
In another study, when diabetic rats consumed 10 mg of goji berry extract daily for three weeks, they showed decreased triglyceride levels and cholesterol.
Good for your Eyes
Goji berry also offers a wide array of benefits to improve your vision. This is because they are loaded with antioxidants particularly zeaxanthin, which prevents damage from UV exposure, oxidative stress and free radical damage.
By including goji berry in your diet, you can guard our eyes from many eye diseases including age related macular degeneration. It also helps to protect vision loss in seniors.
What is an Ideal Amount of Goji Berries
The daily dosage of goji berries depends on the age and health of each individual. A serving size of dried goji berries (5 tablespoons) gives us 5.5% DV of calories.
DV refers to the daily value for a typical diet of 2000 calories. This will vary for each person. From this we get 94 calories of carbohydrates, 14 calories of fat and the remainder from proteins.
For a person who does not have any specific illness, the amount of goji berries taken will depend on the type of the product being consumed. Hence, for healthy people the following could be the recommended daily dosage:
- If they live in goji berry growing areas, the daily dosage is 150g of fresh berries.
- Dried goji berries are most widely available in other areas. The RDA is 10-30g although there is no specific upper limit. A handful of dried goji berries a day will not create any health problems.
- 30ml high quality goji juice taken twice at mealtimes can be consumed daily.
- In Chinese medicine, 5-15g of dried berries is used to make goji tea. This can be drunk once and makes around ½ a cup.
- 2500mg of goji capsules can be taken but only under medical supervision especially if the individual is pregnant or breastfeeding.
If goji berry products are being taken for specific illnesses, then the dosage depends on the illness.
The following is the daily dosage in milliliters.
Please note these are just guidelines and it is best to consult your doctor in case of any confusion.
- Anti-aging – 30-60ml
- Blood boosting – 30ml
- Increase energy levels – 75ml
- Inflammatory conditions like arthritis – 30-60ml
- Cancer management – 60-120ml along with other cancer medication
- Reduce cancer risk – 30ml
- Diabetes – 30ml twice daily
- Promote heart health – 60ml
- Gastric disorders – 45ml before meals
- High blood pressure – 45ml
- Infertility (male) – 75ml a day for 4 months
- Improve immunity – 30-60ml
- Liver protection – 15-30ml
- Sexual dysfunction – 30-60ml
- Weight loss – 60ml in 2 divided doses – morning and afternoon
- Eye disorders – 30ml