Health Benefits Of Goji Berries


Goji berries (also known as Lycium barbarum and wolfberries) are tiny red/orange fruits with a sweet and slightly sour flavour, that are native to Asia. In China, these tiny fruits have been used for centuries both medicinally and as a food supplement to treat a variety of ailments. Historically, goji berries have been used for the treatment of age-related deterioration of the eyes, high blood pressure, diabetes, liver disease and fever.1 Recently, goji berries have gained popularity worldwide thanks to their fibre, vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory content, which results in possible health promoting properties. Their nutrient-rich content has proven to be effective in treating or preventing multiple ailments in both human and rodent studies.2  This superfood is becoming increasingly accessible, dried forms of the berry can be found in most health food stores, some supermarkets and online.

Nutritional value

Goji berries are highly nutritious and contain ample vitamins and minerals. According to the FDC 28g of dried goji berries contain:

  • Calories: 97.7 kcal (4.9% DV)
  • Protein: 4 g (8% DV)
  • Fat: 0.1 g (0.1% DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 21.6 g (7.2% DV)
  • Total dietary fibre: 3.6 g (12.9% DV)
  • Sugar: 21.8 g (43.6% DV)
  • Calcium: 53.2 mg (4.1% DV)
  • Iron: 1.9 mg (10.6% DV)
  • Vitamin A: 7500 IU (250% DV)
  • Vitamin C: 13.6 mg (15.1% DV)

*DV (daily value) defines the amount of a nutrient a person should consume per day, this number has been generalised and can be applied to everyone.

As shown above goji berries are rich in nutrients. Small amounts of the fruit can contribute significantly to meeting the daily value for dietary fibre, iron and vitamins A and C.

Dietary fibre is known to normalise bowel movement, control blood sugar and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. In goji berries the primary source of dietary fibre is polysaccharides. These polysaccharides have been shown to improve immune function. 

Iron is a mineral that is essential for making haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen around the body. Therefore, iron is associated with increased energy and focus.

Vitamin A plays an important role in protecting your eyes from age-related blindness, reducing cancer risk, reducing acne and supporting bone health.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant known for improving immune function, helping the absorption of iron, reducing risk of chronic disease and improving cardiovascular health.

Health benefits

Stabilisation of blood sugar levels: Experiments in mice have confirmed the consumption of goji berries can lead to a reduction in blood sugar levels, reduce diabetes risk and possibly alleviate diabetes symptoms. They work by balancing glucose and insulin levels in the blood.3

Antioxidant: Goji berry content has been analysed and this has proven they have high levels of antioxidants. Antioxidants are natural substances that prevent cell damage and reduce inflammation. Antioxidants present in goji berries include vitamin C, zeaxanthin and carotenoids.4

Reduce cholesterol: Dietary supplementation with goji extract has been shown to increase HDL (good cholesterol) levels and reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) levels in rodent models and in individuals with diabetes.4,5

Helps immune function: Goji berries have been shown to boost immune function in adults. They have been shown to improve the immune response to the flu, common colds and even cancer. This is primarily through goji berry antioxidant content which is known to reduce inflammation and increase the presence of immune cells.6,7,8

Anti-cancer: Traditional chinese medicine uses the compounds found in goji berries to prevent and slow the progression of cancer. The antioxidants present in goji fruit encourage cell death and reduce replication of cancer cells. Therefore, they may slow tumour growth and  reduce inflammation.4

Eye health: Goji berries have been proven to have a protective property in the early stages of retinal degeneration. They contain an antioxidant called zeaxanthin. This antioxidant is normally found in the human retina and prevents retina damage caused by blue light. As we age the amount of zeaxanthin depletes, which makes us more vulnerable to blue light damage. Supplementing this antioxidant in our diet helps reduce the natural age-related depletion of zeaxanthin and therefore helps protect our eyes.5,9

Prevention of liver damage: Rodent studies have shown goji berry extract can reverse alcohol induced liver damage, reduce liver injury and prevent the progression of liver disease in rats.11

Using goji berries in diet and nutrition

Goji berries are frequently referred to as a ‘superfood’ because of the vast amounts of nutrients they contain. They can be consumed either as a juice, powdered, dried or fresh. Dried goji berries are widely accessible and can be bought in health food shops and online worldwide. Their sweet and slightly sour taste works well in:

  • Smoothies
  • Granola
  • Muesli
  • Porridge
  • Yoghurt
  • Salad
  • Salsa
  • Soup
  • Stir-fry
  • Baked goods
  • Desserts
  • Tea

They can also be eaten by themselves as a snack or sprinkled on your favourite foods.

Goji berries are expensive and prices can vary depending on the quality of the product.

Safety and precautions

There are very few reported side effects/ safety concerns associated with goji berry consumption despite having been eaten and used in medicine for over 2,000 years.

Potential side effects and allergic reactions

Individuals that suffer with plant food allergies are at higher risk of developing a goji berry allergy. If you have allergies to other berry types it is best to consult with your doctor prior to adding goji berries into your dietary plan. This includes the consumption of the berry dried, powdered, juiced or fresh.12

Interactions with medications and supplements

It is not advisable to consume goji berries when on certain medications. This is because they may interact with these medications. If you are taking any of the medications listed below you should speak with your doctor before adding goji berries to your diet. 

  • Blood pressure medications / blood thinners: Large doses (exceeding the normal dosage range of 5-15 grams) of goji berries can increase anticoagulant effect of warfarin (a drug used to treat and prevent blood clots)13
  • Diabetes drugs: People taking medication where small changes to doses could cause adverse reactions should be cautious when introducing goji berries to their diet.14

It should also be noted that you should be cautious when consuming goji berries when pregnant. Goji berries contain betaine, which might be harmful to foetuses. However, more research is required to determine if they are safe for human consumption during pregnancy.15 

Safe dosage and storage guidelines

Holland and Barrett recommend eating no more than one handful per day (20-30 grams). As they are incredibly nutrient dense fruits, this small amount will be more than enough to benefit from their rich contents.

Dried goji berries should be stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.


To summarise, goji berries are a delicious addition to your diet and boast many health promoting properties. They have been used for centuries to treat and prevent medical ailments in China. Recently, they have gained popularity across the world as a ‘superfood’ because of their rich nutritious value. The consumption of goji berries have been associated with a reduction in total body cholesterol levels, boosting the immune system, stabilisation of blood sugar levels, promoting retina health, preventing and fighting cancer, and the prevention and reversal of liver damage. Goji berries can be consumed in many forms and have a sweet but slightly sour taste. These nutrient-rich berries can be added to your diet in a variety of ways. Despite their consumption for over 2,000 years, there have been very few cases of adverse side effects/safety concerns associated with them when consumed as part of a healthy balanced diet. Those on blood regulation, diabetes medication or pregnant women should talk with their doctor before adding them to their diet.


  1. Donno D, Beccaro GL, Mellano MG, Cerutti AK, Bounous G. Goji berry fruit (Lycium spp.): antioxidant compound fingerprint and bioactivity evaluation. Journal of Functional Foods [Internet]. 2015 Oct 1 [cited 2023 Mar 24];18:1070–85. Available from:
  2. Vidović BB, Milinčić DD, Marčetić MD, Djuriš JD, Ilić TD, Kostić AŽ, et al. Health benefits and applications of goji berries in functional food products development: a review. Antioxidants [Internet]. 2022 Feb [cited 2023 Mar 24];11(2):248. Available from:
  3. Cai H, Liu F, Zuo P, Huang G, Song Z, Wang T, et al. Practical application of antidiabetic efficacy of lycium barbarum polysaccharide in patients with type 2 diabetes. Med Chem [Internet]. 2015 Jun [cited 2023 Mar 24];11(4):383–90. Available from:
  4. Bartosz Kulczyński*, Anna Gramza-Michałowska. Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum): Composition and Health Effects – a Review. 2016.
  5. Roberts JE, Dennison J. The photobiology of lutein and zeaxanthin in the eye. J Ophthalmol [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Mar 24];2015:687173. Available from:
  6. Gan L, Zhang SH, Liu Q, Xu HB. A polysaccharide-protein complex from Lycium barbarum upregulates cytokine expression in human peripheral blood mononuclear cells. European Journal of Pharmacology [Internet]. 2003 Jun 27 [cited 2023 Mar 24];471(3):217–22. Available from:
  7. Peng XM, Qi CH, Tian GY, Zhang YX. Physico-chemical properties and bioactivities of a glycoconjugate lbgp5b from lycium barbarum l. Chin J Chem [Internet]. 2010 Aug 26 [cited 2023 Mar 24];19(9):842–6. Available from:
  8. Vidal K, Bucheli P, Gao Q, Moulin J, Shen LS, Wang J, et al. Immunomodulatory effects of dietary supplementation with a milk-based wolfberry formulation in healthy elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Rejuvenation Res. 2012 Feb;15(1):89–97.
  9. Bucheli P, Vidal K, Shen L, Gu Z, Zhang C, Miller LE, et al. Goji berry effects on macular characteristics and plasma antioxidant levels. Optom Vis Sci. 2011 Feb;88(2):257–62.
  10. Cheng J, Zhou ZW, Sheng HP, He LJ, Fan XW, He ZX, et al. An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides. Drug Des Devel Ther [Internet]. 2014 Dec 17 [cited 2023 Mar 24];9:33–78. Available from:
  11. Zhang J, Tian L, Xie B. Bleeding due to a probable interaction between warfarin and Gouqizi (Lycium barbarum l.). Toxicology Reports [Internet]. 2015 Jan 1 [cited 2023 Mar 24];2:1209–12. Available from:
  12. CH Larramendi,1,2 JL García-Abujeta,1,2 S Vicario,1,2 A García-Endrino,1 MA López-Matas,3 MD García-Sedeño,1,2 J Carnés. Goji Berries (Lycium barbarum): Risk of Allergic Reactions in Individuals With Food Allergy. 2012. 
  13. Potterat O. Goji (Lycium barbarum and L. chinense): phytochemistry, pharmacology and safety in the perspective of traditional uses and recent popularity. Planta Med [Internet]. 2010 Jan [cited 2023 Mar 24];76(1):7–19. Available from:
  14. Bucheli P, Gao Q, Redgwell R, Vidal K, Wang J, Zhang W. Biomolecular and clinical aspects of chinese wolfberry. In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects [Internet]. 2nd ed. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011 [cited 2023 Mar 24]. Available from:
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Sheena Patel

Bachelor of Science, Genetics BSc, University of Leeds, England

Sheena is a scientific writer with over two years’ experience working in drug development. She has recently relocated to Stockholm where she will begin Stockholm University’s Masters programme in Public Health Sciences: Societal and individual perspectives.

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