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 [R].
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 [R].
- Phytosterols, which are great antioxidants [R]
- Linoleic acid, which has a role in helping prevent heart disease [R]
- Oleic acid [R]
- Palmitic and stearic acid [R]
- Tocopherols, which are great antioxidants and sources of vitamin E [R]
- Beta-Carotene, which can potentially help prevent cancer and is a great source of vitamin A [R]
- Vitamin K [R]
- Withanolides, which have many benefits – they protect the liver, are anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory, help prevent strokes, and lower blood pressure [R]
Mechanism of Action
Health Benefits of Goldenberries
1) Goldenberries 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 [R, R, R].
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 [R].
2) Goldenberries 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 [R].
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 [R].
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 [R].
In human liver cells, goldenberry extract was able to cause cancer cell death through signaling processes involving the mitochondria [R].
3) Goldenberries 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 [R].
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 [R].
4) Goldenberries 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 [R].
5) Goldenberry Might Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
6) Goldenberry 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 [R].
7) Goldenberry 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 [R].
Side Effects and Safety
Unripe fruits may be poisonous [R].
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 [R].
At a high dosage of 5,000 mg/kg, heart damage can occur [R].
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.
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.
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.