Are Goji Berries Good for You?

Are Goji Berries Good for You?
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How to buy goji berries cheaper than raisins.

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What about goji berries? Goji berries are fantastic. Probably the healthiest dried fruit on the planet.
And they’re only expensive if you buy them as goji berries. Then, they’re ridiculous—like 20 bucks a pound.

But if you instead go to an Asian market and buy them as lycium berries, then, they’re cheaper than raisins. So whatever you used to do with raisins—oatmeal, trail mix, whatever—now start doing with goji berries.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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What about goji berries? Goji berries are fantastic. Probably the healthiest dried fruit on the planet.
And they’re only expensive if you buy them as goji berries. Then, they’re ridiculous—like 20 bucks a pound.

But if you instead go to an Asian market and buy them as lycium berries, then, they’re cheaper than raisins. So whatever you used to do with raisins—oatmeal, trail mix, whatever—now start doing with goji berries.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

48 responses to “Are Goji Berries Good for You?

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    1. Where do you live? I’ve found that most major cities have an Asian grocery store–that’s where I’ve had the most luck finding them at a reasonable price.




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      1. It works the same way with shitake mushrooms too. In health food stores and co-ops you can pay several dollars for just 2-3 shitake mushrooms. Several dollars in an Asian grocery store will get you a huge sack of shitake mushrooms.




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  1. While they are cheaper in Asian Markets, they contain preservatives. I buy them in the bulk section at Whole Foods and I believe they are the Sunfood brand if I remember correctly. Whatever brand it is, I checked their website and it said they’re preservative-free.




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    1. I’m surprised you found some with preservatives (which I believe by law have to be listed on the package). The “lycium” (goji) berries one finds so inexpensively in Asian markets may not be organic, though, but I haven’t found any studies that have looked at goji pesticide levels. If anyone finds any such studies please send them my way. My direct email address is mhg1@cornell.edu. You know, I wish I liked the taste of goji berries better. I know they’re so good for me but I’ve grown addicted to these monukka raisins (they have seeds!) that I discovered at a co-op in Charlottesville, VA last weekend that my poor gojis have recently lain fallow.




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      1.  Love all the info, thanks! We’ve found that soaking goji berries mellows their somewhat funky flavor, and makes them easier to chew and to digest. We use the soaking water, too, so no nutrients are lost.




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      2. Re-hydrating the berries helps. Using warm water makes re-hydrating faster. Cooked with a hot cereal is pretty good.

        Grow a plant at home. Off the bush is yummy, although seasonal.




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  2. it seems that at least the cheap gojis will be really full of pesticides. And many of those sellers saying they are organic or from wild harvesting will contain so many pesticides that they can only be grown industrially. so i guess it is not a good tip to recommend buying them in the asian shops for cheap. i did not find real studies but some result of examinations in German language.

    try these links with google translator :

    http://www.food-monitor.de/2010/03/erhoehte-rueckstaende-von-pflanzenschutzmitteln-in-goji-beeren/lebensmittel/tests/

    Baden Württemberg/Germany authorities with 4 entries to the topic “goji”:

    http://www.ua-bw.de/pub/search_results.asp?allebegriffe=AND&subid=0&lang=DE&suchbegriff=goji+beere

    last year the food and drug authorities of Baden Württemberg (a German province) tested 14 different goji packs and in 13 of them they found irregularities. Especially the remnants of a pesticide called ‘Acetamiprid’ were higher than allowed but not yet doubtful for the health. Now in 2010 the European Community has changed the limit value from 0,01 to 0,1 mg/kg for acetamiprid and that is the only reason why all gojis now are under the limit value :-(

    In one single sample they found up to 19 different pesticides. the authorities recommend now that you let the seller show you the laboratory examination valuesfor their imports…




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  3. Michael
    Is it possible that Goji caused me to have rather severe abdominal cramps and pain along with diarrhea? It started a couple of days after I started eating them and seemed to get better when I stopped. I am fine now.




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    1. I get the same abdominal ‘cramping’ type pain after consuming goji berries. For me, it began about a month after consuming them regularly. It’s been almost a year since it first happened, at which point I stopped consuming them (after trying from different retailers). But I can no longer eat them without that severe pain. I’ve been very curious of the cause. Any science out there?




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      1. I had similar issues. At the end of my first packet of goji berries, I started to feel cramps, but at first I didn’t realize what it was about. I bought another packet from the same brand, and the stomach aches, sometimes followed by diarrhea, started to get progressively worse, even with very small amounts.
        Both were from the same brand, which is a fairly reputable brand of dietetic products and I never had problems with any other products from them.




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      2. I have absolutely no stomach issues but after snacking on goji berries as if they were raisins, I had the most violent attack of vomiting, to the point where I strained something in my throat. It seems so impossible to me that I would have a reaction to anything that I tried it again . Same result . Some people have very violent reactions to them. Never eat more than 10 at a time.




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    2. I also have this exact problem. The first couple weeks of eating them were fine then even just a handful on a random day causes a day of stomach pain and camping out on the toilet




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    3. I had a similar issue. I had several episodes of severe nausea and vomiting and it stopped only when I stopped eating goji berries. Unfortunately, I thought it was something more serious and had an ultrasound and a few blood tests before I realized it was the berries.




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  4. After learning
    about the health benefits of Goji berries, I recently purchased some
    from a local Asian food store. When I looked more closely at the
    package, I saw that they contained sulfur dioxide and the label
    “contains chemicals known by the state of CA to cause caner.” It also
    had directions to wash them before eating. I’m now worried that I
    shouldn’t eat them. Can you explain this labeling?




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    1. It’s called Prop 65 in California. It’s a law to protect people from hazardous materials, chemicals and polluted water. But in some instances in really goes too far over board. If any product has any trace of any toxic chemical then the product must be labeled, even if that product is a naturally occurring substance. In the case of Goji berries, there is a very minuscule amount of lead in the berry which is natural. Most fruits and vegetables have some lead in them. It’s naturally in our soil. You just came across a Prop 65 label. They can be very daunting until you do some research. I hope I answered your question.




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  5. I wouldn’t eat anything grown in China with their toxic rivers, air pollution coming down as acid rain, and toxic soil, unless the food is grown on high hills/mountains, so no toxic river water, and industrial pollution, and is certified organic.




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  6. I have extreme sleep apnea. My CPAP machine is very helpful and I do drink tart cherry juice. I also have goji berries on hand but didn’t know they had melatonin. How many do you suggest I eat before bedtime? Thanks, Wayne Halford




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  7. I’m seeing references online to lycium fruit being synonymous with lychee/litchi. Here’s just one:

    http://supplement-geek.com/nv-clinical-review-ingredients-side-effects/
    Litchi – Also called Litchi chinensis and Lycium chinense.
    Litchi also goes by the names Lycium, lychee and Chinese wolfberry,
    among many others.

    Can anyone confirm this? I wonder if eating fresh lychee (one of my favorite exotics) would have the same benefits, or if dehydrating and concentrating them is required to get “enough” … ??




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  8. Every morning I have a smoothies in which I alway make sure to include berries. I used to use fresh berries but because my household is large (there are 6 of us) it became quite expensive. Now I buy frozen berries from Costco because it is much less expensive, and ensures I am able to include them in my diet daily. However, now i read there is a concern that most berries have lots of pesticides and one should only buy. Should I only buy organic, meaning I will have to cut down on how often I include berries in my diet? Might be rather silly question, but I would appreciate any advice. Thanks.




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    1. Betseyb: It is a very good question.

      Dr. Greger has a great blog post where he puts pesticide consumption into perspective. :

      “A new study calculated that if half the U.S. population ate just one more serving of conventional fruits and vegetables, 20,000 cases of cancer could be prevented. At the same time the added pesticide consumption could cause up to 10 extra cancer cases. So by eating conventional produce we may get a tiny bump in cancer risk, but that’s more than compensated by the dramatic drop in risk that accompanies whole food plant consumption. Even if all we had to eat was the most contaminated produce the benefits would far outweigh any risks.”
      from: http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/06/25/apple-peels-turn-on-anticancer-genes/

      I translate this bit of info into: Eat organic when you can, but don’t stress about it when you can’t. I’m not a doctor, but I would say that eating a smoothie’s worth of berries every day is great, even if you have to eat non-organic.




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  9. China China special on Goji? You sure Doc? what about the spray used on these berries from China? but I suppose pesticide laden berries are better than no berries…




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  10. Goji berries don’t taste good? REALLY? Doesn’t that tell me all I need to know? China, a country in which the law does not prevail? Strike Two! I will not wait for Strike Three and instead just say No now. Clean up the rest of my diet and I will not need a wantabe-miracle-cure berry which we’ve successfully evolved without for hundreds of millions of years.




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    1. go to an Indian store and check the frozen section. Amla berries are in season and fresh stock should have arrived. (However, i know that sometimes these frozen food packs are held up in customs for months)…
      If the amla berries are yellow/orange, then they are too ripe/not best anymore. The freshest ones are light green/green.
      However, i always wash and take a bite to see if they are tart enough.

      Do let us know if you find other sources !




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  11. Yes, that’s what I noticed – the huge price difference. The Chinese on the package shown from Asian markets actually reads “goji”, nothing else! Also, there’s a kind of goji from a certain part of China that’s considered the best – goji from Ningxia (ref. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goji). In Western super markets such as Whole Foods, their goji berries are labeled as being from the Himalayans. i wonder whether it’s really from the Himalayans, or just from China.

    Another thing i’d like to mention: i haven’t heard from Westerners about when it’s not good to have goji. In Chinese medicine, when one has apparent symptoms of inflammation, including coughing, it’s not good to take goji, since it would intensify the inflammation. Correct me if i’m wrong: Western nutritional research seems to just look into the the chemical elements of foods, whereas in Chinese medicine, there are properties such as “warming” or “cooling”. Goji is warming, and should not be used if one already has too much “internal heat”. It’s a herbal fruit, and has its herbal uses. Is my observation correct, or am i missing something?




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    1. Good questions. I suggest asking the manufacturers for clarification. If going by the standards of Chinese medicine (which I only know so much about) and goji berries are indeed “warming” then your observation may be correct. I’ve heard about mangos doing the same thing but I would be reluctant to say don’t eat mangos or goji berries due to their “warming” effect because I have not seen any research to confirm this. Perhaps someone more familiar with Chinese medicine can weigh-in here?




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  12. Wolfberries are native goji berries that grow in the west in mild climate areas. They naturally grow in poor soil. Here in Tucson we have at least 6 varieties. Some fruit in spring while others in late summer and still others autumn. If I eat 10 can feel an energy lift, unlike any other food but coffee. Pea sized, reddish orange either round or football shaped. Tomato family plant.




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  13. Grow your own. I live in Seattle, just planted 2 Goji berry trees, have 2 more I am trying to gift to a friend. They are only 6 inches high now… will be up to 10 foot. This should be interesting.




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  14. we grow goji in Tibetan, no industry in this area,wild place, so no pollution, organic certification and pesticides free, hope its interest people who interest goji.




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  15. The goji berries I found in a Chinese food market contained sulfites (or sulfates). Rather pay the price for healthier, organic goji’s than lesser expensive with additives.




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  16. I recently read an article about the 3 worst foods, touted as superfoods, and Goji berries were one of the 3 !! The reason being they are in the nightshade family. Here’s what thehealthcoach1.com says as part of a very lengthy article on the nightshade…. “Nightshades belong to the family known as Solonacea which indicates they possess powerful and harmful glycoalkaloids known as solanine. Solanine, and other harmful constituents found within the plants of this family, function as a natural insecticide to ward off insects which feast on the fruits of tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant and other nightshades. Now, here’s the real problem with an extremely expensive snack food like Goji berries. When your diet is already full of nightshades, you can easily set yourself up for exceeding your own unique tolerance of the various harmful insecticide-like constituents you’re also taking in from eating tomatoes, potatoes, etc. When this occurs, you will begin to experience a number of telltale symptoms which make you feel miserable. ” So no wonder all the comments above have people complaining of stomach aches. What do you think about this information Dr. Gregor ?




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    1. Totally agree with Dr. Thomas. I would add that the whole nightshade thing and those “3/10/50/etc. worst foods!” blogs in general, are total hype at best. If anything, vegetables and fruits from the nightshade family are some of the healthiest foods on the planet which offer ant-inflammatory benefits, rare antioxidants, amazing benefits to the heart (see Dr. Greger’s videos on tomatoes), natural sun protection due to antioxidant content, etc.




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      1. Not to mention some of the best sources of vitamin c. 1000 mg in 3 yellow peppers, for one example. Also contain nicotine which has benefits as talked about in videos on this site. Obviously tobacco is not a safe source but bell peppers are a really good source with many other benefits as well.




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  17. Hi Jodz, I am one of the medical moderators here. The hype about nightshades is largely exaggerated in my experience. I have seen a small minority of patients (less than 10-20%) with auto-immune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, that initially have some sensitivity to nightshades, but they usually can be re-introduced after they have been in remission for some time with minimal issues. I think if you don’t feel great eating gojis, then it won’t make a difference to a WFPB diet if you include them or not.




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  18. Awesome info – went to an Asian market, asked for “lycium berries” and got a puzzled look;
    asked for Goji berries and they said – oh yes –
    got an unreadable (Chinese only) sizeable bag (haven’t weighed it yet) for $11.
    And they are very yummy – I like them better than raisins
    THANKS




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  19. I have had four episodes of severe nausea and vomiting over the past month, and finally realized today that it might be goji berries causing it as I believe it’s only happening on days I eat cereal and add goji berries. Last week I had a blood test, breath test and hour-long G.I. ultrasound hoping to find out what is causing the episodes. I hope it’s just the goji berries which would be an easy solution. I’m going to talk to the G.I. doctor tomorrow to see if there is any test to tell if it is goji berries and not something more serious. I LOVE the website and “How Not to Die” but if enough people have a reaction, it might be worth mentioning. Thanks for everything you all do.




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  20. The chemical composition of goji is more complex, and the major contain: Protein, amino acids, trace
    elements, carbohydrates, fat, fatty acids, terpenoid, steroid, vitamins, pigments category alkaloids.




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