Goji berries, also called wolfberries, have historically been used in Chinese Traditional Medicine to treat eye, kidney and liver problems, and have made a comeback in recent times, being dubbed a “superfood.” They’re rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids, and convincing evidence suggests they have a host of medicinal properties.
In a study, a group of participants drank goji berry juice every day, while another group drank a placebo. After just two weeks, the group that drank goji berry juice had increased energy, focus, calmness, quality of sleep and overall feelings of well-being . Goji berries can be taken as a supplement to boost your immune system, energy, mood, and brain power. It also works as a natural aphrodisiac and remedy for blood sugar spikes.
1. Boosts Your Immunity and Combats Free Radicals
Goji berries have significant immunologic properties that make them helpful in boosting your immune system and fighting off infections. They’re high in vitamins A and C, which are key to preventing colds and cases of flu. A study on mice found that goji berries helped improve flu vaccine effectiveness in aged mice . Several studies have demonstrated the ability of goji berries to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidants benefit every cell in the body by helping to reduce cellular and DNA damage. This helps lower your risk of chronic and degenerative diseases .
2. Improves Blood Sugar Levels
Goji berries could help prevent diabetes and manage blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. They can help slow the release of glucose into your bloodstream, preventing spikes and drops in blood sugar. Studies show they lower blood sugar, reduce insulin resistance and help regenerate cells responsible for insulin production. Through these effects, goji berries are able to help diabetics restore their ability to metabolize glucose and maintain stable blood sugar levels. It can also help diabetics by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, which are both factors in the progression of diabetes .
3. Fights Cancer
High levels of antioxidants such as zeaxanthin give goji berries anti-cancer qualities that have been shown to fight tumor growth, kill cancer cells, and strengthen the body’s defense against cancer. They also play a role in cancer prevention by reducing oxidative stress, in which free radicals damage cells and DNA. Studies show it’s effective against breast, prostate, stomach, liver, colon and skin cancers .
4. Promotes Cardiovascular Health
Goji berries improve cardiovascular health by increasing nitric oxide levels. Nitric oxide modulates vascular function, and deficiency in nitric oxide has been linked to high blood pressure. On the other hand, sufficient nitric oxide levels allow blood vessels to dilate, lowering blood pressure and improving circulation. Oxidative damage is a factor that contributes to the development of heart disease. By scavenging free radicals, the antioxidants in goji berries help protect the cardiovascular system by reducing damage and inflammation .
5. Improves Sexual Function
Boosting libido and fertility is a traditional use of goji berry in Chinese medicine. Recent evidence has corroborated its ability to act as an aphrodisiac. It works by increasing levels of sex hormones and boosting nitric oxide levels, which in turn helps promote blood circulation to the genitals. Goji berries have also been found to increase sperm count and sperm quality, as well as reproductive function. Its ability to improve erectile dysfunction may even compare to the pharmaceutical drug Viagra .
6. Enhances Cognitive Function
Studies indicate that goji berries have positive effects on neurological function that could benefit fetal development and prevent neurodegenerative diseases in senior citizens. It works by reducing the formation of amyloid plaques in brain tissue, which causes neurotoxicity and is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. It also protects brain health by reducing oxidative damage. In a study on pregnant rats under mental stress, the group administered goji berries had less brain dysfunction compared to the control group .
7. Protects Eye Health
Goji berries are shown to prevent age-related eye diseases, such as macular degeneration, which is a major cause of age-related blindness. Their high levels of antioxidants are able to protect your eyes from UV light exposure, which causes oxidative damage. In one study, participants who drank goji berry juice every day had higher levels of antioxidants and less accumulation of oxidative stress compounds that cause macula damage . Goji berries also protect your retina from the accumulation of ganglion cells, which cause glaucoma .
8. Benefits Your Skin
Goji berries are a rich source of beta-carotene, also called vitamin A. Beta-carotene is known to promote skin health and protect skin from cancer-causing stressors like UV light. In a study on mice, drinking goji berry juice protected skin from UV light damage, suggesting it can help lower the risk of skin cancer and other skin ailments . One test tube study showed that goji berry extract promoted longevity in human fibroblasts, which are skin cells that produce collagen–the structural protein found in connective tissue .
Adding Goji Berries to Your Diet
The nutrients and antioxidant power of this superfood make it a great addition to your diet. On the market today, you can find goji berry juice, puree, whole dried goji berries and several products that contain dried goji berries, such as granola and yogurt. You can also get goji berry powder and add it to smoothies to get the health benefits of goji berries or take goji berry extract in liquid or pill form as a daily supplement.
Goji berries are dubbed a “superfood” because they’re nutrient-dense and known to promote an overall feeling of well-being. Research shows they play a preventative role in diseases, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes and heart disease. Goji berries are a potent source of multiple antioxidants, which account for its ability to protect cells and DNA and lower inflammation. They’re shown to protect your eyes and skin from UV damage and protect your brain from amyloid plaque formation. They can also work as a natural aphrodisiac and blood sugar stabilizer.