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7 Health Benefits of Goldenberries + Side Effects

Written by Joe Cohen, BS | Reviewed by Helen Quach, BS (Biochemistry) | Last updated:

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Goldenberries

With its golden hue and tomato-like appearance, the goldenberry is definitely a fruit you should consider both for its uniqueness and various health properties. It is a great antioxidant source, is anti-inflammatory, and can even help improve eye health.

What are Goldenberries?

Goldenberries, also known as Physalis periviana, or cape gooseberry, is a fruit with many beneficial properties [1].

They come from the Andes but are also currently grown in places like California, Taiwan, India, and Great Britain. This fruit is derived from a combination of potatoes and tomatoes [1].

Components

  • Phytosterols, which are great antioxidants [1]
  • Linoleic acid, which has a role in helping prevent heart disease [1]
  • Oleic acid [1]
  • Palmitic and stearic acid [1]
  • Tocopherols, which are great antioxidants and sources of vitamin E [1]
  • Beta-Carotene, which can potentially help prevent cancer and is a great source of vitamin A [1]
  • Vitamin K [2]
  • Withanolides, which have many benefits – they protect the liver, are anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory, help prevent strokes, and lower blood pressure [2]

Mechanism of Action

Goldenberries impact cell signaling processes involving COX-2, and other protein levels such as oxalate and dismutase to increase antioxidant activity [3, 4].

They lower inflammatory cytokine levels such as IL-9 and decrease MCP-1 and ERK signaling to lower inflammation [3, 4, 5].

Their anti-cancer activity is centered around modifying gene production, mitochondria activity, and DNA material processing [6, 7].

Health Benefits of Goldenberries

1) Contain Powerful Antioxidants

Goldenberries contain high amounts of withanolides and phenolics, components which make the fruit high in antioxidant activity. Due to these compounds, goldenberries have been found to have 57.67 % antioxidant capacity [8, 9, 9].

In rats, goldenberry extract had a high ability to prevent tissue damage. Lipid peroxidation occurs when molecules degrade cells and damage tissue. Goldenberry extracts (especially those prepared from alcohol) had high antioxidant power and prevented such damage [10].

2) May Help Fight Against Cancer

A component of goldenberries, 4beta-Hydrozywithanolide E, prevented cancer growth by causing DNA damage, cell death (apoptosis), and stopping the cancer cell cycle. These properties were found in a cell study of lung cancer cells [3].

In a mouse study that used liver cancer cells, the 4beta-Hydrozywithanolide E component of goldenberries actively changed DNA gene production (histone modification). This decreased tumor size [4].

A similar cell study of breast cancer cells also showed that 4beta-Hydrozywithanolide E of goldenberries reduced tumor size. It increased antioxidant enzyme activity (oxalase and superoxide dismutase), thus lessening the chances of long-term inflammation [5].

In human liver cells, goldenberry extract was able to cause cancer cell death through signaling processes involving the mitochondria [6].

3) May Help Prevent Organ Damage

Because of its high antioxidant power, goldenberries are able to protect against fibrosis, (tissue scarring). In rats, goldenberry juice protected against kidney disorders and tissue damage caused by oxidative damage [11].

In mice whose lungs are damaged by cigarette smoke, goldenberries decreased inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α and IL-6), and other inflammatory pathways (MCP-1 and ERK signaling). The fruit increases HO-1, an antioxidant enzyme, and Nrf2, a protein that helps release defense mechanisms against tissue damage [7].

4) Might Treat Inflammatory Bowel Disease

The calyx of the goldenberry, or the outer protective casing it grows in, has anti-inflammatory properties that heal inflamed tissue of the colon. In rat colon cells, goldenberry extract decreased inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-10, and IL-1B) and COX-2 transmission [12].

5) Might Reduce Blood Sugar Levels

In guinea pigs, goldenberry leaf supplementation reduced blood sugar levels and thus may have a role in treating diabetes [13].

6) May Protect the Brain

In a study of rat brain cells damaged by harmful oxygen molecules, gooseberry juice showed a significant ability to prevent cell death. It also decreased tissue damage and neurotoxicity due to its antioxidant properties [14].

7) May Help Treat Eye Disease

Pterygium, also known as surfer’s eye, is a disease involving excessive growth on the cornea, which is linked to the growth of cells called fibroblasts. In rabbits, goldenberry juice helped prevent excessive eye tissue growth that develops due to aging [15].

Side Effects, Limitations, Forms, Dosage

Side Effects and Safety

Unripe fruits may be poisonous [13].

In a case study in Turkey, extensive use of goldenberries for weight loss may have been one of the reasons that caused bleeding in the brain and high blood pressure [16].

A very high dosage of the goldenberries (specifically the leaves) can lead to toxicity of the gut, which results in vomiting, headaches, and in rare cases, death. A guinea pig study focused on solanine, a component of goldenberries, and found that a dosage of 400 or 800 mg/kg dosage instead of the recommended 100 mg/kg dosage led to toxicity [13].

At a high dosage of 5,000 mg/kg, heart damage can occur [17].

Limitations and Caveats

Extensive human clinical trials have not been conducted on goldenberries. This means that some of these health benefits shown in cell and animal studies may not be applied to humans.

Forms of Supplementation

Goldenberries are often sold in dried fruit form, and are also sold under the name of “Incan berries.”

The leaves of goldenberries and unripe goldenberries may be toxic, so proceed with caution if consuming fresh goldenberries as opposed to dried, processed forms.

Dosage

Do not intake goldenberries extensively or in high amounts. Use as an occasional supplement. A potential recommended dosage is 100 mg/kg. Exceeding that amount may lead to toxicity.

User Experiences

Users have not detailed on its long-term effects but instead, have commented on it being a healthy and tasty tart snack. Many consumers explain that they buy it as a snack after having heard of its numerous health benefits, and some say that their blood sugar levels decreased after eating it as a snack.

However, other users complained that it tasted sour and inedible and that they did not notice any health changes after consumption.

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About the Author

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen, BS

Joe Cohen won the genetic lottery of bad genes. As a kid, he suffered from inflammation, brain fog, fatigue, digestive problems, anxiety, depression, and other issues that were poorly understood in both conventional and alternative medicine.Frustrated by the lack of good information and tools, Joe decided to embark on a journey of self-experimentation and self-learning to improve his health--something that has since become known as “biohacking”. With thousands of experiments and pubmed articles under his belt, Joe founded SelfHacked, the resource that was missing when he needed it. SelfHacked now gets millions of monthly readers.Joe is a thriving entrepreneur, author and speaker. He is the CEO of SelfHacked, SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer.His mission is to help people gain access to the most up-to-date, unbiased, and science-based ways to optimize their health.
Joe has been studying health sciences for 17 years and has read over 30,000 PubMed articles. He's given consultations to over 1000 people who have sought his health advice. After completing the pre-med requirements at university, he founded SelfHacked because he wanted to make a big impact in improving global health. He's written hundreds of science posts, multiple books on improving health, and speaks at various health conferences. He's keen on building a brain-trust of top scientists who will improve the level of accuracy of health content on the web. He's also founded SelfDecode and LabTestAnalyzer, popular genetic and lab software tools to improve health.

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