Goji Berries: An Anti-Aging Compound?

Berries Touted for Improved Immunity, Reduced Inflammation

Bowl of Goji berries
Bowl of Goji berries. Getty Images/Westend61

The goji berry is a Chinese berry that has been getting attention as an anti-aging wonder: people eating goji berries claim to gain younger skin, better eyesight and improved immunity from this addition to their diets.

Goji berries (also called wolfberries) are used in a wide variety of traditional Chinese medicine preparations, and contain high levels of antioxidants, making them a popular so-called "superfruit." They also (like most fruit) contain a wide variety of healthy vitamins and minerals.

These days, goji berries are added to everything from chocolate bars to energy drinks.

You're more likely to encounter dried goji berries than fresh ones. Dried goji berries taste a bit like a dried cranberry — tart with a hint of sweetness. Fresh goji berries, on the other hand, taste tangy but can have a metallic aftertaste.

But do goji berries really live up to the anti-aging hype surrounding them?

Goji Berry Health Claims

In traditional Chinese medicine, goji berries are often made into a tea that is said to work on the liver and other areas of the bodies. In food products, goji berries are often dried and mixed in with the other ingredients.

Marketers of goji berries have made the following health claims for the little red fruits, which are said to:

But the real truth is that there is very little evidence of any of these health benefits to drinking goji berry juice or eating foods with goji berries in them.

One 2014 study reported that goji berries fed to older mice helped improve their response to flu vaccine, possibly making them more resistant to the flu. In addition, there are several studies showing that goji berry juice can enhance overall well-being and immune system functions. But beyond that research, there's no proof for the use of goji berries to help prevent or slow aging.

Should I Eat Things With Goji Berries?

The way I see it, goji berries are just another fruit.

Fruit is good for you. You should probably eat more fruit. If goji berries are interesting to you and you like how they taste, then eat more of them. But if you want to stick to apples and bananas, that’s okay too.

Goji berries alone aren't going to make you younger or prevent aging. Try instead to get as wide a variety of fruits in your diet and for three to four servings of fruit every day.

Back to Strange Foods for Longevity

Sources:

Cheng J et al. An evidence-based update on the pharmacological activities and possible molecular targets of Lycium barbarum polysaccharides. Drug Design, Development, and Therapy. 2014 Dec 17;9:33-78.

Du X et al. Dietary wolfberry supplementation enhances the protective effect of flu vaccine against influenza challenge in aged mice. The Journal of Nutrition. 2014 Feb;144(2):224-9.

Seeram NP. Berry fruits: compositional elements, biochemical activities, and the impact of their intake on human health, performance, and disease. J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):627-9.

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