The scientific community has been investigating the health benefits of goji berries, as the popularity of these tiny fruits has grown. Their purported benefits range from anti-aging effects to glucose regulation and immune function support.
Goji berries are also known as Lycium barbarum. The goji berry is native to Asia, and people in Asia have been using this brightly colored fruit for more than 2,000 years as a medicinal herb and food supplement. Goji berries are widely available for purchase in health food stores and online.
More recently, supporters have introduced goji berries to the rest of the world with claims of many potential health benefits. Modern science is investigating these claims, and researchers have backed many of them.
What the science says about goji berries
Here are seven possible benefits of the goji berry with the scientific evidence supporting them:
1. Protects the eyes
Goji berries are believed to protect against age-related eye diseases.
Goji berries can help vision because they contain high levels of healthy antioxidants, especially zeaxanthin.
The same antioxidants can also stop damage from:
- UV light
- free radicals
- oxidative stress.
One study reported in the American Academy of Optometry’s journal Optometry and Vision Science found that seniors who drank goji berry juice for 90 days increased zeaxanthin and other antioxidant levels significantly.
A second study reported in the journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy shows goji berries protect the retina from the ganglion cells responsible for glaucoma, a condition that can lead to vision loss.
2. Provides immune system support
Goji berries contain healthy antioxidants. Antioxidants are known for their immune-boosting qualities and their ability to fight harmful free radicals and inflammation.
Goji berries contain large amounts of vitamins A and C, similarly to other berries, including blueberries and raspberries. Vitamins A and C are vital for building immunity and preventing illnesses, ranging from the common cold to cancer.
3. Protects against cancer
High levels of antioxidants, including vitamin C, zeaxanthin, and carotenoids, are responsible for fighting cancer cells. Antioxidants slow tumor growth, reduce inflammation, and help to remove harmful substances from the body.
Research on mice, reported in the journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy, finds goji berries may inhibit tumor growth and boost the effectiveness of cancer treatments.
4. Promotes healthy skin
Goji berries contain beta-carotene, which is an essential plant phytochemical. Beta-carotene is known for its ability to promote healthy skin.
Beta-carotene is an ingredient used in skin creams to:
- improve skin health
- reduce skin irritation
- manage the effects of the sun
- manage the impact of aging
One study in mice found that when they drank 5 percent goji juice, it gave them enough antioxidants to protect against UV light damage and skin disorders.
5. Stabilizes blood sugar
Goji berries may be helpful in controlling the release of sugar into the blood. Research from 2015 shows that goji berries balance insulin and glucose levels in the blood.
The same study linked goji berries to increased HDL levels in people with type 2 diabetes. HDL is known as good cholesterol.
6. Improves depression, anxiety, and sleep