When it comes to fruits with funky names, jujube pretty much takes the prize. I mean, try saying ‘jujube’ 10 times without giggling. Can’t do it, can you?
Since this sweet little fruit looks a lot like a date, it is also known as red date, Korean date, Chinese date, and Indian date around the world.
Well, there’s more to this fruit than its name, and it’s time we acknowledge all the wonderful benefits it has to offer.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Jujube?
- History Of Jujube Fruit
- Jujube Fruit Nutrition Facts
- What Are The Health Benefits Of Jujube Fruit?
- How To Use Jujube
- How To Select And Store Jujube Fruit
- Jujube Fruit Recipe
- What Are The Side Effects Of Jujube?
What Is Jujube?
Jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) is a member of the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae) of plants. It is a small deciduous shrub with shiny green leaves and yellowish-green flowers. The fruit itself is oval and green when unripe and purplish-brown and wrinkled (like a date) when mature. Though it has the consistency and taste of an apple when ripe, it tastes a lot like dates when mature.
A fruit that looks and tastes like a date even though it’s not? Now, that’s interesting. Let’s look at where it came from…
History Of Jujube Fruit
The earliest mention of jujube can be found in the Classic Of Odes, a Chinese anthology of poems dating back to 6th century BC. It has also been used medicinally in China and other parts of Asia for at least 2500 years.
Jujube is thought to have originated from Syria and North Africa at least 3000 years ago. It then moved east towards southern Asia and, eventually, China, where it is still widely grown. It is also found in Madagascar, Bulgaria, some more parts of Europe, and in the islands of the Caribbean.
Though it had over 400 cultivars in China, an inferior range of jujube seedlings was introduced to Europe at the beginning of the Christian era, and it eventually found its way to the United States in 1837. It wasn’t until 1908, though, that a better cultivar of jujube from China was brought to the US by the USDA.
Why did everyone want to get their hands on this little unassuming fruit? It would most definitely have to be because of the treasure trove of nutrients that it housed. So, let’s take a closer look…
Jujube Fruit Nutrition Facts
Check out here about the nutritional value of jujube fruit right here:
Serving size: 1 oz = 28 g
Percentage of RDA
0.13 mg mg
There a ton of reasons jujube makes for a healthy snack when you are hit by hunger pangs at odd hours. First and foremost, it contains absolutely no cholesterol. Secondly, it is filled with nutrients like vitamin C and potassium and is low in sodium. Lastly, it is filled to the brim with water, which makes it low in calories.
Since jujube has so many wonderful nutrients, it is obvious that it also has a ton of great health benefits to offer. Keep reading to find out what they are.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Jujube Fruit?
With calcium, potassium, saponins, flavonoids, betulinic acid, and vitamins A and C filled to the brim of this fruit, jujube is pretty much a powerhouse of health benefits. It provides a line of defense from small aches and pains to something as major as cancer. Let’s take a more detailed look at what this date-like fruit can do.
1. Treats Cancer
Jujube extract is filled with phenolics that boost its antioxidant activity. This means that the antioxidant enzymes found in jujube work more swiftly to get rid of free radicals and prevent cancer.
There are quite a few in-vitro studies that have proven the ability of jujube extract in preventing the spread of cancer cells. One study done at the University of Cambria showed that it could effectively slow down the spread of, and even kill, malignant breast cancer cells (1). Another study done in Iran exhibited the ability of jujube extract in inhibiting the spread of cancerous tumor cell lines, especially leukemia cell lines (2).
2. Improves Sleep And Treats Insomnia
Jujube has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to improve sleep and treat insomnia since time immemorial. This is because it contains saponins that have a sedative and hypnotic effect, which make it perfect for inducing sleep (3). Having a cup of warm jujube tea right before you go to bed could give you restful sleep and treat insomnia in the most natural way possible.
3. Improves Heart Health And Decreases The Risk Of Heart Disease
There are several ways in which eating jujubes can do wonders for your heart health. First, it is loaded with potassium and low in sodium, which makes it easier for your blood vessels to relax and maintain a good level of blood pressure (4). It has also been found to work as an antiatherogenic agent, which means that it prevents fat from getting deposited in and clogging your arteries (5). Lastly, jujube was also found to have helped lower the amount of lipids in the blood of obese adolescents, thereby reducing their chance of developing any heart disease (6).
4. Enhances Gastrointestinal Health
Consuming at least 40 milligrams of jujube a day can prove extremely beneficial for your gastrointestinal health. It can improve the overall environment of your gastrointestinal region and reduce its exposure to toxic ammonia and other such harmful compounds (7). In fact, it has been found to prevent the formation of gastric ulcers in rats (8).
5. Relieves Chronic Constipation
Constantly feeling constipated can be a real pain in the bum (pun intended!) and make you feel oh-so-low. Well, lucky for us all that jujube works pretty well when it comes to relieving constipation. A study conducted by the Meir Medical Center in Israel found that consuming the jujube extract not only relieved the symptoms of constipation, but it also improved the quality of life (9).
6. Regulates Circulation
When your blood circulation is up to the mark, your organs are thoroughly oxygenated, and you feel generally fresher and full of energy. Popping a few jujubes a day is a great idea as it improves blood circulation (10). This is because they are rich in iron and phosphorus – two components that play a vital role in the formation of red blood cells and overall blood circulation.
7. Boosts Immunity
When it comes to boosting your immunity, it really doesn’t get better than the good ol’ jujube. This little fruit is packed with vitamins A and C that are powerful antioxidants. These essential nutrients fight against free radical damage that is responsible for a compromised immune system and could lead to cancer, heart disease, and rapid aging. They do so by regulating the production of inflammatory cytokines (11).
But it doesn’t just end there! Jujube extract was also found to suppress the release of histamine when an allergic reaction was induced in rodents, thus proving that it also possesses some anti-allergic and anti-anaphylactic properties (12).
8. Reduces Inflammation
Topical use of jujube extract can help relieve a number of muscle aches and joint pains. This is because it has been found to work as a potent anti-inflammatory agent, according to a study (13).
9. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
Traditionally, jujube has been used to treat the symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression as it has a calming effect on the mind and body. In fact, a study done on mice showed that jujube reduced anxiety when taken in lower doses and had a sedative effect when taken in higher doses (14). Though there are no studies done on humans that provide conclusive evidence for the same, there really is no harm in eating a handful of jujubes when you are feeling particularly stressed.
10. Improves Bone Strength
If you’re worried that your bones are not strong enough or that you’ll develop osteoporosis when you get old, it’s time you added jujube to your diet. This little fruit is filled with the minerals calcium and phosphorus that are majorly responsible for strengthening your bones and improving the overall bone health (15).
11. Aids Digestion
When it comes to helping move things along in your stomach, jujube works in a dual capacity. Firstly, the saponins and triterpenoids found in it make sure that the nutrients from the food are sufficiently absorbed by your body. Secondly, its fiber content makes sure you have smooth and regular bowel movements. Thus, jujubes ensure that you are free from constipation, flatulence, bloating or any other digestive troubles.
12. Controls Weight
We’ve already seen that jujubes are low in calories and have absolutely no fat. Additionally, they have a high fiber and protein content, which means that they can fill you up fast and prevent you from indulging in unhealthy snacks between meals and putting on weight. So, it comes as no surprise that jujubes are a huge hit among fitness freaks.
13. Detoxifies Blood
The saponins found in jujubes work to detoxify the blood and help to remove harmful toxins from all areas of your body. This not only helps prevent a large number of diseases but also eases the stress on your immune system.
14. Protects Against Brain Damage
We all know that as we age, our brain cells start degenerating, which paves the way for a number of neurological disorders. Jujube is capable of preventing that from happening by working in a number of ways. For instance, it can inhibit the activity of glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) that can cause brain damage in people who have suffered from a stroke, seizures, or Parkinson’s disease (16).
It also improves the functioning of astrocytes that are responsible for protecting the neurons and, in turn, prevent the development of brain diseases (17).
15. Improves Cognitive Function
If you’re on the lookout for a fruit that will boost your brain activity, your search ends with jujube. Jujube extract improved the deteriorating overall memory and spatial memory of mice after they had been given alcohol (18), (19).
Moreover, jujube extract also boosted nerve cell growth and development in the dentate gyrus area, which is one of two areas in the brain where new nerve cells develop (20).
16. Protects Against Seizures
An experimental study done on seizure-induced mice showed some promising effects of jujube extract on them. The study found that mice that had been treated with jujube extract before being induced with seizures exhibited improved learning and memory and reduced oxidative stress as compared to the control group, thus proving that it can significantly reduce the brain damage caused by seizures (21).
17. Has Antimicrobial Properties
The weapon you need to wield when fighting any infection has got to be jujube. The flavonoids found in jujube have been proven to be potent antimicrobial agents (22). In fact, the ethanolic extract of this fruit has been found to be a great component for treating infections in children (23).
18. Benefits Skin Health
The anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of jujube are great for combating a number of skin problems like acne, wrinkles, blemishes, and scars, regardless of whether it is applied topically or consumed.
19. Might Increase Hair Growth
The application of jujube essential oil on shaved mice for 21 days resulted in their hair growing back longer and thicker as compared to the control group (28). This just goes to show that it has the potential to generate similar results in humans.
20. Improves Ovarian Health
A study conducted by the Tehran University of Medical Sciences (Iran) used a herbal product of jujube called Shilanum to treat ovarian cysts. At the end of the study, they found that this natural formula was just as effective in treating ovarian cysts as birth control pills (that are usually prescribed for this condition) without causing too many side effects (29).
21. Removes Breast Milk Toxins
In a study conducted in Iran, lactating mothers were made to eat 15 grams of fresh jujubes a day for 2 months to test its effect on the levels of lead and cadmium in their breast milk. At the end of the trial, they found that the women who had eaten jujubes had lower levels of these toxic elements in their milk as opposed to the control group (30).
As we have seen, jujube offers an insane number of benefits. And all that needs to be figured out is how to use it in our day to day lives. So let’s take a look…
How To Use Jujube
From culinary to medicinal and cultural, there are a ton of different ways that jujube is used by people around the world. Here’s a rundown of some of its most important uses:
- Fresh and dried jujubes are eaten as a snack all over the world.
- Jujube flavored tea syrup and teabags are widely consumed in China and Korea.
- In some parts of India, jujube is also used to make pickles.
- Croatians use jujube fruit to make marmalades, juices, and a fruit brandy called
- Jujube is majorly used in the Chinese medicine practice of Kampo for its antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- The leaves of the jujube plant are dried and used as potpourri in Bhutan.
- Koreans use the wood of jujube plant to make a wide variety of things like bowls, beads, violin parts, and a double reed instrument called taepyeongso.
One little plant and so many uses – who knew, huh? Let’s now look at how to select and store it.
How To Select And Store Jujube Fruit
Jujube is available from July to November. If you’re looking to buy fresh jujubes, make sure you pick ones that are light green and firm. Dried jujubes are usually sold in packets.
Store fresh jujubes on the counter if you mean to consume them within 3-4 days. They’ll last for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Dried jujubes can be stored and used for several months.
Jujube Fruit Recipe
Jujube Butter Oatmeal Bars
- 2 cups jujube fruit (chopped)
- 1 cup apple cider
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ sticks butter (6 ounces)
- 1 cup pecans (chopped)
- 9×9 pan
Now, jujube is certainly a great fruit that you can make delicious dishes with, but it can also cause a few side effects that you need to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know…
What Are The Side Effects Of Jujube?
Fortunately, jujube does not have any side effects that are a major cause for concern. However, diabetic people should avoid this fruit as its carbohydrate content can affect their blood sugar level.
Consuming large amounts of jujubes can cause drowsiness, diarrhea, reduced appetite, bloating, and malaise in rare cases.
Now that you know everything there is to know about jujube and the many benefits it offers, it’s time you stocked up on this amazing fruit. Don’t forget to comment below to let us know how it’s working out for you.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
How to eat jujube fruit?
You can eat jujube just as you would eat an apple – either by cutting it into slices or whole. Just make sure you remove the seed in the center.
What does jujube taste like?
Fresh jujubes taste like sweet apples while dry jujubes taste somewhat like dates.
What is jujube tea good for?
Jujube tea is good for treating constipation and insomnia and reducing anxiety.
What is jujube extract?
Jujube extract that people usually refer to is the extract taken from the seed of jujube. It is known as Semen Ziziphi Spinosae.
Is jujube good for pregnant women?
Yes, women can eat jujube when they’re pregnant as it is rich in folate and antioxidants. However, they should limit its consumption as it can cause constipation when overeaten.