Goji berries: properties, what they are good for and contraindications

Goji berries, Lycium barbarum , although their popularity has grown in recent years in the West, the truth is that in Asian countries such as China they have been used for more than 2,000 years as food and in traditional medicine due to their properties and benefits for health .

Goji berries, considered by some to be a superfood , grow on a shrub that belongs to the Solanaceae botanical family, just like bell peppers , potatoes, and tomatoes .

They have a showy red color and usually the most common is to find dried goji berries . With the berries you can prepare goji juice at home.

Nutritional value of goji berries

Of every 100 grams of berries, 13 grams are carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 8 g fiber and 1 g fat.

They also have vitamins A, C, B2 and B1. They also have potassium, calcium, sodium, iron, zinc, copper, and selenium.

Goji berries provide 85 kcalories per 100 grams.

Properties of goji berries

Among the active principles of goji berries, we can highlight the polysaccharides Lycium barbarium (LBP), scopoletin (a coumarin with adaptogenic action) and 2-O-β-D-glucopyranosyl-L-ascorbic acid (AA -2βG) (with antioxidant power).

It has been possible to verify by in vitro controls that these berries possess polysaccharides with a high antioxidant action.

The most studied active principle is LBP and it has been discovered that it has different pharmacological actions on the body:

  • Improves general health
  • Acts on the immune response
  • Has antitumor activity
  • Increases insulin secretion
  • May have a protective effect against glaucoma
  • Has anti-inflammatory and antiviral action
  • Protects the liver

And there are more effects of LBP that have been studied (1).

What are goji berries good for?

goji berry propertiesA clinical study (2) carried out on the effects of goji berries concluded that at the end of this study the participants felt a better state of general health , with more energy, easier to concentrate on the tasks they were performing, improved sleep, felt better. less stressed and fatigued and with better gastrointestinal function. The participants consumed goji berries on a daily basis.

Goji berries have the ability to enhance immune response , according to this study (3). But in addition, the participants (between 55 and 72 years of age) in this study reported feeling good, that they slept better and even that their short-term memory had improved. The participants in this study took 150 grams of berries each day for 30 days.

The increase in antioxidants in the body produced by the consumption of goji berries could help prevent or reduce the damage caused by free radicals , according to this clinical study (4). Free radicals can cause, for example: premature aging, cataracts, atherosclerosis, cancer, diabetes or DNA mutations. Antioxidants are capable of neutralizing the damage of free radicals and that is why it is so important to incorporate them into the daily diet through food.

In a review on the anticancer action of goji berries (5), their main active components (LBP, scopoletin and AA-2βG) are pointed out as those responsible for the inhibitory effect on the proliferation of cancer cells. LBP was even found to help regulate the immune system and enhance the effects of other anticancer therapies.

In all of these fields, more research is continuing to learn more about the extent of goji berry benefits.

How do you take goji berries?

They can be consumed in several ways:

Dried goji berries . It is the most common way to find them. They are eaten as is directly or can also be added to recipes for desserts and sweets.

Juice or goji juice . It can be prepared from the berries or it can be purchased. In China it is highly consumed.

Infusion of goji berries . Made from berries to which boiling water is added, let it rest and then drunk.

Consuming goji berries is not going to make up for a poor diet or unhealthy lifestyle. That is, for many goji berries that you take if you do not eat in a healthy way and do not have an active life, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, the consumption of alcohol or tobacco, the goji are not going to work miracles.


Contraindications of goji berries

Goji berries may interact with warfarin, a blood-thinning drug.

If you are taking medications or have any special health conditions, consult your doctor about the suitability of taking goji berries or not in your particular case.

In 2013 the OCU (Organization of Consumers and Users) analyzed several samples of goji berries bought in herbalists, supermarkets and nut stores and all of them contained a dangerous cocktail of pesticides (13 types, some of them even prohibited in Europe) and also traces of heavy metals such as copper or lead. To be sure that you are buying a product that has passed the most rigorous quality controls, we always recommend buying organic goji berries .



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