What Is Goji Berry Good For?

Goji Berry Goodness
Botanical name: Lycium barbarum

Goji Berry Nutrition Facts

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are well known in traditional Chinese medicine and have been used for over 2,000 years.1 Often used in soups and teas, goji berries are famous for their health benefits, thanks to the phytochemicals they contain.2

Historically, the plant has been harvested for thousands of years in Asia, particularly in China and Tibet. It is mentioned in a historical medical text written in the 16th century, the "Compendium of Materia Medica," which documents how herbs can be utilized.3

In another ancient Chinese book entitled "Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing," which is considered the oldest book on Chinese herbs, the berries belong to the top 120 herbs that boast remarkable health benefits, which includes prolonging life and strengthening the body.4

What Is a Goji Berry?

Goji berries are the small red fruits of the goji berry shrub. The plant is a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and peppers.5 They can grow up to a height of 12 feet, and spring from purple blossoms. At first, these berries have an orange shade that slowly change to their well-known red color as the fruits mature.6 Goji berries contain about 20 to 50 seeds and have a sweet flavor.7 While goji berries may be eaten fresh, many people prefer consuming them after processing or drying.8

But the real question is, are goji berries good for you? This shrub has been around for thousands of years, and historical evidence from Chinese healers have reported its healing and nourishing effects on the body, specifically on the liver, kidneys and eyes.9 The reputation of the berries eventually spread to various countries. Today, scientific studies have been done on these berries to confirm their health benefits.10

The Health Benefits of Goji Berries

Even in small servings, goji berries are packed with nutrients that may help promote optimal health. The most well-known benefits of this shrub include:

  • Metabolic syndrome management — A 2017 study from the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity found that the antioxidant content of goji berries may help individuals with metabolic syndrome by reducing oxidative stress. Metabolic syndrome has been linked to obesity, hypertension and hyperglycemia.

  • Participants in the study were asked to consume goji berries daily for 45 days. The study participants had decreased lipid peroxidation, LDL cholesterol and waist circumference after long-term goji berry consumption.11

  • Healthy vision — A 2011 study from Optometry and Vision found that goji berries contain zeaxanthin, an antioxidant known for helping maintain healthy vision.12 The researchers found that those who consumed goji berries regularly had less hypopigmentation and less drusen (yellow fatty deposits) in their eye.13
  • Increased testosterone levels — Goji berries may help increase men's testosterone levels. In a 2017 animal study published in The World Journal of Men's Health, researchers discovered that goji berries helped inhibit the decrease of serum testosterone levels in old-aged rat models.14
  • Diabetes management — A 2015 study from Medicinal Chemistry found that goji berries may have protective properties on patients with Type 2 diabetes. Patients who were given Lycium barbarum polysaccharides were found to have decreased glucose levels and increased HDL.15

To learn more about the nutritional value of goji berries, check out the table below:16

Goji Berries Nutritional Facts

Serving Size: 5 tablespoons (28 grams), dried
  Amt. Per
Calories 97.7  
Total Fat 0.109 g  
Cholesterol 0 mg  
Sodium 83.4 mg  
Total Carbohydrates 21.6 g  
Dietary Fiber 3.64 g  
Sugar 12.8 g  
Protein 3.99 g  
Vitamin A 7510 IU Vitamin C 13.6 mg
Calcium 53.2 mg Iron 1.9 mg

The Uses of Goji Berries

Goji berries are mainly used for tinctures, wine and juice, but they're also used for soups, hot pots and herbal teas.17,18 When cooking with goji berries, you can use them for sweet or savory dishes. For example, goji berries may be used the same way as raisins. They can be added to cakes, bars and bowls, or mixed in smoothies and fruit teas.19

However, be aware that goji berries contain fructose. If consumed too frequently, fructose may cause insulin resistance, which can be harmful to your health. Eat goji berries in moderation and avoid overusing them in your meals.

Goji Berries Recipe:
Broccoli Salad With Avocado and Goji Berries

Goji berries are quite easy to use in recipes. They can form the foundation for a smoothie, or used in salads, such as this broccoli salad recipe. This dish contains various nutrient-dense ingredients that will give you a health boost every time you eat it.

Goji Berry Healthy Recipe


21 ounces broccoli

2 ounces goji berries

2 fluid ounces vegetable broth

4 to 7 clementines

1 avocado

1 ounce blanched almonds

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar


Salt and pepper

Organic coconut oil


  1. Peel the avocado, cut into cubes and sprinkle with lemon juice to avoid browning.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a pan. Add the broccoli and sauté for five minutes, stirring in 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.
  3. Pour vegetable stock and continue cooking until the broth has been absorbed.
  4. Chop the almonds and roast them until they start to color.
  5. Add the goji berries to the pan with the broccoli. Sauté for another three minutes.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve with the toasted almonds and some peeled clementines.

(Recipe adapted from Love My Salad20)

Growing Goji Berries in Your Home

Growing your own goji berry plant is beneficial for you and your family, because you'll have an instant source of protein, fiber and vitamins without having to ingest dangerous toxins into your system. As an added bonus, you get to save money as well.

The best thing about goji berries is that they're very easy to grow, as they tolerate various types of soil. They grow best in slightly alkaline soil with a pH of 7 to 8. Just make sure that their roots are well-drained as they don't grow well when they're constantly wet.21

There are two ways to plant goji berries. The first one is the traditional method, which uses seeds. The other one is by using a bare root plant, which is the more popular option when starting.22 Either option will serve you well.

If you're planning to plant goji berries, know that they don't usually bear fruits until after one to two years and do not reach full production until their third to fifth year. Note that nurseries do not usually list goji berries using their names, but you can typically find them when you're looking for Lycium barbarum, which is its scientific name.23 Always source your plants from trustworthy nurseries or sellers to ensure you're getting only the highest quality.

The Side Effects of Goji Berries

Despite the growing popularity of goji berries, you should not just jump into eating them right away, especially if you're dealing with a medical condition. For example, if you're taking blood-thinning medications such as warfarin, it's recommended that you avoid goji berries because they may interfere with the medicine and trigger bleeding and bruising.

In a 2012 medical case, a woman who underwent surgery and was put on warfarin was observed to suffer from increased bleeding after drinking goji berry juice. Similar interactions have been documented in two other reports.24 This interaction may negatively affect hemophiliacs and the elderly. That's because the increased blood flow can lead to increased bleeding whenever you sustain an injury.25

If you have food allergies, you might also be predisposed to goji berry allergies, especially people who have lipid transferase protein (LTP) allergies. In a 2012 study, 30 participants were subjected to a skin prick test to document possible allergic reactions to peach skin and goji berries. Nearly half of the participants reported symptoms of an allergic reaction.26

Before eating goji berries or taking any product that uses this food, always consult with a doctor to check if it's safe to consume.