These basic goji (wolfberry) nutrition facts are from The California Academy of Health (which I recommend buying goji berries from after detailed research – more info at Buying Goji Berries and Juice page), and are typical compared to other nutrition analyses I found:
Serving Size: 1 oz (28 g) – about 1/4 cup
Calories: 95 (0 g from Fat)
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 4 g
Sodium: 75 mg
Sugars (natural): 12 g
Carbohydrates: 24 g
Vitamin A: (140% of DRI)
Vitamin C: (20% of DRI)
Calcium: (4% of DRI)
Iron: (10% of DRI)
Micronutrients and phytochemicals
According to Wikipedia (which at this point doesn’t cite sources for all of this info, and doesn’t note whether this is for dried or fresh berries), goji berries/wolfberries contain many nutrients and phytochemicals, including:
- 11 essential and 22 trace dietary minerals
- 18 amino acids
- 6 vitamins
- 8 polysaccharides and 6 monosaccharides
- 5 unsaturated fatty acids, including the essential fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid
- beta-sitosterol and other phytosterols
- 5 carotenoids, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin (below), lutein, lycopene and cryptoxanthin, a xanthophyll
- numerous phenolic pigments (phenols) associated with antioxidant properties
Select examples given below are for 100 g of dried berries:
- Calcium – 112 mg, providing about 8–10% of the dietary reference intake (DRI)
- Potassium – 1,132 mg, giving about 24% of the DRI
- Iron – 9 mg (100% DRI)
- Zinc – 2 mg (18% DRI)
- Selenium – 50 micrograms (91% DRI)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2) 1.3 mg, 100% of DRI
- Vitamin C – 29 to 148 mg (respectively, 32% and 163% DRI)
Wolfberries also contain numerous phytochemicals for which no DRI values have been established. These phytochemicals are present in goji berries:
- Beta-carotene 7 mg/100 g dried fruit
- Zeaxanthin – from 2.4to 82.4 mg per 100 gto 200 mg per 100 grams. Wikipedia notes the higher values would make wolfberrygoji one of the richest edible plant sources known for zeaxanthin content, and notes that up to 77% of total carotenoids present in wolfberry exist as zeaxanthin.
- Polysaccharides – proteoglycan polysaccharides are a major constituent of wolfberries, representing up to 31% of pulp weight.
- I have only found dried goji berry nutrition information for goji products. 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, which is much easier than you may think! Learn how by starting with the Growing Your Own Goji Berries section, or subscribe to my newsletter at the top or bottom of this page for step by step reports.
- Different goji berries will contain different amounts of vitamins, etc. since they will sometimes come from different subspecies/cultivars, and are grown in different types of soils under different conditions.
- Organic berries are the most nutritious.
- 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.
- For Antioxidant information see the Goji Berries and ORAC page.
Addressing the Internet Hype
After studying numerous sources for nutrition information about goji berries, I have made the following conclusions:
- Many websites detail the nutrition content of goji berries (beyond the basic nutrients), but all of them I have found reference the same source, 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.
- I was unable to find the original study, or any information about the Beijing Nutrition Research Institute besides the numerous references to it citing its goji berry nutrition analysis.
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, which is not true according to all other analyses I have found).
- 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).
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 have not yet been able to confirm the above information allegedly from the Beijing Nutrition Research Institute, and at least the part about vitamin C, I am fairly certain is incorrect. This information seems to have been circulated and regurgitated over and over again on the Internet, and I would be highly interested to see a more recent, verifiable nutrition information analysis done on goji berries. If you have any information, please contact me to let me know.
The best way to get the most nutrient dense goji berries is to grow your own! Learn how in detail by signing up to my Superfood Explorations newsletter below: