Goji Berry Nutrition Information

There are many places on the Internet detailing the nutrition content of goji berries, but many of them reference the same source. Most of the information circulating comes supposedly from the Beijing Nutrition Research Institute, which in 1988 is said to have conducted detailed chemical analyses and nutritional composition studies of the dried Lycium fruit. It must be noted, however, that I was unable to find the original study. I was able to find goji berry nutrition information from various other sources, however. These sources are compared in a convenient manner below.

According to sources citing the Beijing Nutrition Research Institute analysis, the fruit contains more beta carotene than carrots, and 500 times more vitamin C by weight than oranges (if this is the case, they would have 26g of vitamin C per 100g of actual berry - this is unlikely). According to this reference, the fruit also contains over 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, and substantial amounts of vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6 and vitamin E. The analysis also apparently discovered the berries to contain essential fatty acids and to be an incredibly rich source of carotenoids (more than any other known food).

An important note: the nutrients found in goji juice itself will vary from what is found in the actual berries. The seeds of the berries are what contain the essential fatty acids, for example, but these do not go into the juice. Does this mean that actual berries are better? Not necessarily, but it is something to consider.

As Dr. Joseph Mercola notes on Mercola.com:

"In general, fruit juice is not the best way to consume a fruit. It is typically better to consume the whole fruit.

Most of traditional medicine fails to recognize that the sugars in fruit juice contribute to major distortions of insulin balance. I believe that fruit juice and pasteurized milk are two of the most misunderstood foods in our culture. Most people believe they are health foods, while the polar opposite is true...

...Juicing your vegetables at home, however, is a very different matter. Juiced vegetables do not have the absurdly high sugar content of fruit juice, and vegetable juicing can be a very healthy practice."

Dr. Mercola has recommended elsewhere on his website to dilute juice with water when drinking it if it is highly concentrated, as many fruit juices are.

Verifying the Nutrition Content

These nutrition facts have been found on various websites : 1/4 Cup Serving (Approx. 1 oz, 28 g), Calories 90, Fat 0g, Fiber 4g, Protein 4g, Carbs 24g, Sugars 12g, Vitamin A 180% of DRI, Vitamin C 30%, Calcium 9% and Iron 15%. Another source noted that the berries contain 11 mg of iron per 100 grams.

Before continuing it is important to note that different berries will contain different amounts of vitamins, etc. due to the fact that some may be of a different species. Where the berries are grown and what type of soil they are grown in are also important.

Another company selling the berries, The Byron Bay Wheatgrass Company, listed these as the average content per 100 grams:

Total Fat: .7g
Saturated Fat: 1.1g
Protein: 10.6g
Total Carbohydrate: 21g
Sugars: 17.3g
Sodium: 24mg
Energy Value: 346kj
Calcium: 112.5mg
Iron: 8.42mg
Crude Fibre: 7.7g
Vitamin C: 18.4g (this is also quite high)
Carotene: 7.83mg
Amino Acid: 8.48mg
Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 0.15mg
Polysaccharides: 46.5mg

Another company, DrugStore.com, lists this information for their sun dried goji berries (note: sun drying may lose more nutrients than shade drying):

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 28g
Servings Per Container: 188
Amount per Serving
Calories Total 112
from Fat 14

% Daily Value +
Total Fat 1.4 g 5%
Saturated Fat 0 g 0%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 84 mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 28 g 9%
Dietary fiber 4 g 16%
Sugars 4 g 10%
Protein 4 g 8%

% Daily Value
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Daily Value not established.
+ Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note that the above chart is inconsistent with the previous amounts of vitamin C content. The daily recommended intake of vitamin C is around 75 to 200mg, depending on the person and depending on who you talk to about it. If 100g of goji berries contained 18 or 20g of vitamin C, a typical 25g serving of goji berries would give you somewhere around 5g of vitamin C, about 66 times more vitamin C than your daily recommended intake. Plus, the berries would be 25% vitamin C. In other words, it is best to be cautious about what you believe in all of the hype about goji berries out there. This is not to say that the berries aren't extremely healthy, only that it is important to put it in context, and realize ALL berries are healthy (especially organic ones).

I also do not want to imply that it isn't worth it to purchase the berries or juice. It is, however, a shame that there are so many people distorting the truth out of greed and discrediting the industry, as it would be nice to see people take the plants more seriously and for the price of the berries to go down so that more people could benefit from them.

More Information

Many sources note that the berry contains a full protein (as opposed to partial proteins as in bread). Additionally, several other beneficial compounds are reported to have been discovered in the analysis by the Beijing Nutrition Research Institute:

Selenium and Germanium: These are well-known anti-cancer agents.

Beta Sitosterol: This anti-inflammatory agent has been found to lower cholesterol, and has been used to treat impotence and prostate enlargement.

Zeaxanthin and Lutine: Have been known to protect the eyes.

Betaine: Produces Choline in the liver, which helps detoxification processes there. It is also known to protect DNA, enhance memory, encourage muscle growth and protect against fatty liver disease.

Cyperone: Used in treatment of cervical cancer. Known to benefit blood pressure, heart and menstruation problems.

Solavetivone: An anti-bacterial and anti-fungal agent.

Physalin: A compound known to boost the immune system. Also found effective in treating leukemia, cancer and hepatitis B.

I found it hard to verify the above information, but I will continue to add research as I find time.

One final note: Remember that this analaysis is done on dried goji berries. Whenever any fresh food is dried and preserved, it loses nutrient value. Therefore, in my opinion, the best way to get your goji would be to grow your own! Learn how in the Growing Your Own Goji Berries section.