Goji berries have been used in ancient Chinese medicine for centuries. Dried goji berries are common at most health food stores and some super markets, but goji berries can be enjoyed raw, dried, boiled for tea or ground as a powder for a supplement.
Goji berries have recently become a popular health food and supplement, and some goji berry products make health claims related to weight loss, antioxidant benefit and lowering risk for some diseases.
While there is some evidence to suggest goji berries can offer some health benefit, there is little evidence to suggest taking goji berry could dramatically improve weight loss.
Anti-inflammatory and eye health
All fruits and vegetables are a rich source of many different varieties of antioxidants, and goji berries are no different. Their bright red color of the fruit means it is packed with antioxidants.
Specifically, goji berries are high in the antioxidant zeaxanthin. This antioxidant may be especially important for eye health.
A diet high in foods that provide antioxidants may be beneficial for health and may help lower risk for certain diseases. The zeaxanthin content in goji berries may even help protect eyes from damage related to macular degeneration.
According to University of Michigan (1), some animal and human studies have shown eating goji berries can increase the amount of zeaxanthin in the body, and animal studies suggest the zeaxanthin accumulates in the eye.
A 2011 study (2) also found supplementing with goji berries for 90 days increased antioxidant levels in the body and increased zeaxanthin accumulation in the eyes of an elderly population.
More studies are needed on humans with goji berries and the specific effects it has on the body.
Could goji berries offer other specific health benefits?
Maybe but more research is needed. One 2008 study (3) did find that subjects who drank goji juice for 14 days experienced lower fatigue, increased energy, increased subjective feeling of general wellbeing and gastrointestinal health.
Goji berries and weight loss
Goji berries are a significant source of antioxidants, fiber and other nutrients. However, can they help with weight loss?
One ounce of goji berries provides 2 grams of fiber and eating a 2 ounce serving with a small handful of nuts can provide a filling snack full of protein, vitamins, minerals, heart healthy fats and fiber.
Carrying extra fat mass can increase inflammation in the body, and increased inflammation can increase risk for many diseases including cardiovascular disease. Therefore, eating a diet rich in antioxidant foods may be beneficial when going through weight loss.
Researchers also concluded eating a diet high in fruits may help improve risk factors for heart health related to obesity.
A 2008 review (6) also suggests there is research showing positive effects from berries on health, exercise performance and disease risk.
Eating goji berries at any time, whether during weight loss or not, can be a great idea.
Will eating goji berries rapidly speed up your metabolism to help you burn fat?
Probably not; any claims like this are not backed by research. However, they can provide a source of antioxidants, like all fruits and vegetables, which is recommended during weight loss.
Is it part of a supplement?
Since goji berries are becoming more popular, some weight loss supplements may take advantage of this and put some goji berry in their supplement.
Caution should be used anytime you are taking a supplement because they are not tightly regulated by the FDA (7). If goji berry is part of a proprietary blend of a product, you can’t tell how much goji berry is actually in the supplement.
Could it be harmful?
Is there any risk for eating goji berries or goji products?
Probably not for most healthy adults. However, if you are taking any medication, talk with your health care provider before starting to eat goji berry products. Goji berries could interfere with some medications including blood thinners, diabetes or blood pressure medications (8).
Goji berries are a rich source of antioxidants and have been used by ancient Chinese medicine as a treatment for many health problems. The antioxidants in goji berries may be specifically beneficial for eye health shown by some animal and human studies.
Other research suggests eating fruits while on a low calorie diet could be helpful for lowering oxidative stress during weight loss.
Be wary of claims from weight loss supplements with goji berries indicating it can drastically help with weight loss, as these claims aren’t backed up by credible research.
Also remember weight loss is recommended through a healthy, balanced diet, lowered stress and exercise program.