The 3 Health Benefits of Golden Berries - GoodRx (2023)

Key takeaways:

  • Golden berries are a nightshade fruit from the mountains of South America. They have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • The versatile fruit delivers vitamins and minerals and can be used in both savory or sweet dishes or eaten raw.

  • Golden berry extract is incorporated into traditional and conventional medicines. The leaves, stem, and fruit of the plant are used for a stronger effect than you’d get from the fruit alone.

The 3 Health Benefits of Golden Berries - GoodRx (1)

You’ve probably encountered a number of berries in your life, like raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. But here’s one that you might not have sampled: golden berries.

Golden berries — scientifically known as Physalis peruviana — are native to the Andes region of Peru and Chile and are often grown in tropical locations. They have a long history of use in traditional medicines and come with several potential health benefits. Here’s what to know about this nutrient-packed fruit.

What are golden berries, and where can you get them?

Golden berries look like a tomatillo, but are much smaller in size. Their taste is somewhere between that of a mango, pineapple, and a cherry tomato. They have a sweet-tart flavor, making them a versatile addition to a sweet or a savory dish. You can eat them on their own for a juicy snack or use them in sauces, juices, or jams.

You can find golden berries in the produce or dried fruit section of many grocery stores. But since they’re not always easy to find, it might help to call your local supermarket ahead of time.

Golden berries are also called:

  • Incan berries

  • Aztec berries

  • Cape gooseberries

  • Poha berry

  • Ground cherries

  • Brazilian raisin

What are the health benefits of golden berries?

Although scientists are still learning about golden berries, here are three health benefits the fruit might provide.

1. Cancer-fighting potential

Golden berries contain vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants. These are nutrients that protect cells from damaging free radicals. Cell damage might contribute to cancer.

In a small lab test, extracts from golden berries prevented the growth of lung cancer cells. Similar results have been seen in studies using golden berry extract against breast cancer cells and oral cancer cells. The results are promising, but real-life application studies are needed to confirm their benefit.

2. Anti-inflammatory properties

Golden berries, like many berries, contain high levels of polyphenols, which help fight inflammation, or the body’s natural response to an injury or irritant. Too much inflammation is associated with chronic conditions like heart disease and neurological disorders.

3. Cholesterol-improving compounds

Golden berries contain plant-based substances called phytosterols that help improve cholesterol levels. Phytosterols help lower LDL cholesterol levels or “bad” cholesterol.

Are there any risks to eating golden berries?

Golden berries are a member of the nightshade family, which includes tomatoes and eggplant. Nightshades naturally contain a chemical called solanine, which is toxic in high amounts. And since solanine is commonly found in unripe nightshades, be sure to avoid golden berries that appear green in color.

Some people report digestive discomfort or arthritis flare-ups when they consume nightshades. But no studies have determined a tolerable level in humans. If they bother you, it’s best to skip golden berries.

Who should consider adding golden berries to their diet?

Golden berries appear to be safe for most people. Anyone who is interested in experimenting with tropical fruit should give them a try. Plus, they’re a low-calorie snack that delivers a variety of nutrients like:

Keep in mind, golden berries aren’t a replacement for medical care or medication. Studies and medications use extracts of the leaves, stems, and seeds of the golden berry plant. So it’s not the same as what you’d pick up at a produce market.

Can people with diabetes eat golden berries?

Golden berries contain fiber and protein, which slow absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. This helps prevent a blood sugar spike. That makes golden berries a welcome fruit for people with diabetes.

A small study showed that eating golden berries daily might affect insulin in a way that helps lower the risk of metabolic syndrome. But since the study participants were all healthy men, more research on a diverse pool of volunteers, as well as people with diabetes, is needed.

Are golden berries expensive?

It depends. The price you pay for golden berries depends on:

  • Where you live

  • What store you buy them from

  • When you buy them

  • The quantity you choose

For example, Trader Joe’s sells a 6 oz. container of golden berries for $3.49. This comes out to around 58 cents per ounce ($3.49 divided by 6). Using the conversion 8 oz. = 1 cup, the cost of every cup of golden berries is around $4.64 ($0.58 multiplied by 8). In comparison, raspberries, which are among the most expensive fresh fruit, cost around $2.29 per cup.

The good news is, there are ways you can save on groceries, including:

  • Comparing the price of golden berries at different stores

  • Checking the cost per unit (price per ounce) to make sure you’re getting the best deal

  • Buying golden berries on sale or using coupons if they’re available

  • Using a credit card that offers cashback on groceries

How can you safely incorporate golden berries into your diet?

Golden berries are versatile. You can use them like you would cranberries. Apart from eating them raw, you can get creative and:

  • Bake dried golden berries into cookies or muffins.

  • Mix them with nuts in a trail mix.

  • Turn them into a sweet jam with vanilla and ginger.

  • Make golden berry salsa to eat with chips.

  • Make a savory chutney and use it as a dip or as a marinade for meat or tofu.

  • Sprinkle them on top of a salad.

  • Stir them into morning oatmeal.

  • Blend them into a smoothie.

The bottom line

Golden berries can be a delicious and healthy addition to your diet. Although more research is needed, their nutrition content and use in medicines is promising. Eat them raw or use them in sweet or savory dishes for fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

References

Cabral, C. E., et al. (2017). Phytosterols in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia.

Kasali, F. M., et al. (2021). Ethnotherapeutic uses and phytochemical composition of Physalis peruviana L: An overview. The Scientific World Journal.

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Nawirska-Olszańska, A., et al. (2017). Rheological, chemical and physical characteristics of golden berry (Physalis peruviana L.) after convective and microwave drying. Foods.

Ramadan, M. F., et al. (2003). Oil goldenberry (Physalis peruviana L.). Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

ScienceDirect. (n.d.). Solanine - An overview.

Trader Joe’s. (n.d.). Cape gooseberries.

U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. (2020). Interactive chart: Most and least expensive fruits and vegetables.

U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central. (2018). Raw organic golden berries.

Vahapoglu, B., et al. (2022). Recent studies on berry bioactives and their health-promoting roles. Molecules.

Vaillant, F., et al. (2021). Plasma metabolome profiling by high-performance chemical isotope-labeling LC-MS after acute and medium-term intervention with golden berry fruit (Physalis peruviana L.), confirming its impact on insulin-associated signaling pathways. Nutrients.

Yu, T., et al. (2021). Physalis peruviana-derived Physapruin A (PHA) inhibits breast cancer cell proliferation and induces oxidative-stress-mediated apoptosis and DNA damage. Antioxidants.

Yu, T., et al. (2022). Physapruin A enhances DNA damage and inhibits DNA repair to suppress oral cancer cell proliferation. International Journal of Molecular Sciences.

Yen, C., et al. (2010). 4β-Hydroxywithanolide E from Physalis peruviana (golden berry) inhibits growth of human lung cancer cells through DNA damage, apoptosis and G2/M arrest. BMC Cancer.

GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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