Jujube fruit is an interesting food with an interesting background. It belongs to the botanical family Rhamnaceae or Buckthorn and has been cultivated in China for over 4,000 years.
At least 400 varieties of jujubes are successfully developed for their distinctive characteristics: some are best eaten fresh, and others dry to a rubbery, date-like texture.
The jujube fruit trees are hardy and can flower in extreme temperatures. With as little as eight inches of annual rainfall, preferring sunny areas over dark ones.
Jinjoleroo, red date or Chinese date, is the fruit of the jujube tree “Zizyphus jujuba,” an eastern tree that can grow up to 10 meters tall in hot and humid areas. Its fruit is a red edible drupe, where most of the tree’s nutritional value lies.
In China and Korea, jujube fruit is widely used and is a common ingredient in many gastronomic preparations. Its fruit is consumed as a condiment or in the form of vinegar and wine. It’s also taken as an infusion for therapeutic purposes or to enjoy its great taste.
Jujubes are red inside and out, with a crunchy texture, edible skin, and a bitter-sweet taste similar to apples. When ripe, they can be stored at room temperature for a week.
This fruit was not a great success when first introduced to the United States in the late 1800s because merchants tried to propagate a variety made to dry.
It was not until the 1990s that the first tasty jujube variety was imported into the United States by a private individual, and two more varieties later in 2007.
The best fresh jujube varieties to look for included Sugarcane, Li, Sherwood, Chico, and Tarro de Mile (the latter being the smallest and juiciest).
As for drying, the best ones are Lang and Shanxi Li. Dried jujube varieties can be used to replace dates or apples in recipes. Peel the fruit and remove the only seed inside. Jujubes can also be pickled whole or used to make tea.
Jujube fruit health benefits
Although they may not possess many nutrients, jujubes contain a wide range of them, including magnesium, potassium, copper, niacin, calcium, manganese, phosphorus, and iron.
Jujubes contain 20 times more vitamin C than any other fruit, strengthening the immune system and fighting infections, which may be why they have been used medicinally for millennia in various cultures, such as tea for sore throats.
Medical studies have found that jujube fruit and extracts have the ability to help lower blood pressure, reverse liver disease, treat anemia, and inhibit the growth of tumor cells that can lead to leukemia.
Jujube extracts are also used in skin products to reduce wrinkles, relieve dry skin, and treat sunburn pain.
Loaded with phytonutrients
One of the reasons this fruit has all these benefits it’s due to the complexity of its phytonutrients. Scientists have identified eight flavonoids in the jujube fruit, including thorn and sweetish, sedative properties.
The search for free radicals phenol puerarin in jujubes helps keep cholesterol levels in the normal range and lower cardiovascular disease risk. Flavonoid apigenin (also found in chamomile, thyme, and red wine) contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties.
Thus, helping to reduce cancer risk and positively affect the liver, digestion, and allergies.
Furthermore, jujubes are loaded with 18 of the most important amino acids, which help in the formation of more than 50,000 proteins in the body, one of which triggers the process of wound healing.
As mentioned before, dried varieties of jujube can be used to replace dates or apples in recipes.
Just peel the fruit and remove the only seed inside. Jujubes can also be pickled whole or used to make tea.
However, it is advisable to consume jujubes in moderation because they contain fructose, which can be harmful to health in excessive amounts.
Jujube is an extraordinary food therapeutically speaking; it has high contents of tannins, mucilage, vitamin C, and betulinic acid:
Vegetable and fruit mucilage is basically soluble fiber. High concentrations of mucilage help reduce cholesterol levels in the blood since this fiber prevents cholesterol from being absorbed in excess by the intestine and favors its elimination.
This is because of its high purifying value and prevention against serious diseases such as cancer since these toxins promote the appearance of cancer cells in the body. Soluble fiber cover and protect the intestine, so it helps in treating gastritis or acidity.
Again, these red friends are loaded with vitamin C, more than an orange, for example.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is one of the most important vitamins because of its many benefits to our health, which stands out for its antioxidant property and its ability to improve our body’s immune system.
Jujube, like birch bark, contains good proportions of betulinic acid. Numerous studies are currently being carried out in different universities and pharmaceutical laboratories with betulinic acid or botulinal, as it possesses strong anti-viral and immunological properties.
Its application in anti-cancer drugs or for the treatment of HIV is being studied and has now become a good focus of hope for these treatments.
All this makes jujube a great “natural remedy” with multiple medicinal properties. So much that in Traditional Chinese Medicine, jujube (“dazao“) is a highly valued fruit used to treat different conditions.
Jujube and Traditional Chinese Medicine
In traditional Chinese medicine, jujube is used to balance the spleen’s meridians (Yin nature) and the stomach (Yang nature), nourish and purify the blood, and balance and relax the mind.
On a side note, in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spleen (pi) is the main organ of digestion, as it is responsible for transforming the nutrients into Qi (vital energy) and Blood.
If the spleen does not function correctly, energy or digestive problems can arise. Furthermore, it may cause irregular blood flow and “poor” blood in nutrients.
These conditions are manifested on the outside of the mouth by pale and dry lips, a bad taste, or a “doughy” sensation in the mouth.
On the other hand, spleen imbalances will produce a loss of intellectual memory (difficulty in working or studying), lack of concentration, psychological discomfort, obsessions, nervousness, insomnia, or sadness.
The spleen is also functionally connected to the liver and stomach, concerning digestion and the heart. Therefore, the performance and proper functioning of other important organs may get compromised.
It is recommended to consume jujube when treating: anemia, lack of appetite, imbalances in the intestinal transit, diarrhea and constipation, poor digestion, autoimmune diseases or viral, exhaustion or convalescence by disease or post-operative.
Also recommended for cases of insomnia, tachycardia, nervousness, mild depression, and anxiety.
Jujube’s normally consumed in the form of nuts, and its flavor is delightful. Nevertheless, it’s difficult to digest; it is usually prepared as an infusion, jelly, or honey, mixing it with other ingredients that make it more digestible.
Jujube fruit: Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams), dried
Portion and daily % Value
- Calories 287
- Calories from fat 9
- Total Fat 1 g 2%
- Saturated Fat 0 g 0%
- Trans Fat 0
- Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
- Sodium 9 mg 0%
- Total Carbohydrate 74 g 25%
- Dietary fiber 0%
- Sugar 0%
- Protein 4 g
- Vitamin A0% Vitamin C 22%
- Calcium8% Iron 10%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your values may be higher or lower, depending on your caloric needs.
Studies conducted in 2012 on a deproteinized polysaccharide extracted from the jujube fruit determined it as a potential anti-cancer agent, which scientists suggested for further “in vivo” experimentation and clinical testing for this purpose.
Healthy jujube recipes
Egg “tea” with jujube (red dates)
- 30 boneless jujubes
- 4 bowls of rice water
- One egg
Carefully wash the jujubes (red dates)
Place the water and jujubes in a pan. Cook over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, until only a bowl of rice water remains.
Carefully place one egg in a small saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 3 minutes for a liquid yolk, or cook longer according to your preference. Empty the egg with a slotted spoon.
Transfer immediately to a container of very cold water. Allow to cool and peel the shell.
Place the egg in a pot with the jujube tea. Heat the egg a little. Serve immediately.
This infusion is also known as red date tea. Very healthy, with an incredible taste of fresh sweet apples. It contains many antioxidants that improve skin condition and digestion.
One of the main reasons you should drink Chinese date tea is that it turns out to be a very relaxing and soothing drink.
That is why Chinese herbalists prescribe it to their patients who suffer from anxiety and sleep disorders. It has been confirmed that it limits stimulating neurotransmitters’ release—the result: a longer sleep and better metabolism.
Jujubes – sometimes called ‘Chinese dates’ – are small reddish-brown fruits that look like berries. Originating in China, the fruit can be eaten dry, fresh, cooked, or drunk.
TIP: Health-conscious Chinese consume jujubes as a remorseless, calorie-free snack or dessert because the fruit is pleasantly sweet, containing vitamin C, vitamin A, protein, potassium, iron, calcium, and small amounts of other vitamins.
- Preparation time 3-4 minutes
- Temperature 95 °C
- Amount for 500 ml 2-5 grams
Curious facts about Jujube:
Some stories in Asian countries say that jujube trees were closely guarded because their sweet smell had the reputation of making people fall in love.
Up until the past decade, the jujube fruit had been a bit misunderstood. A case of mistaken identity in its first presentation, so to speak. Slowly, this exotic fruit’s true nature with its benefits and uses are beginning to come to light.
Packed with vitamins and minerals, amino acids, and flavonoids, jujubes – aka Chinese dates help maintain stable blood flow to the body and promote the healthy development of bones, muscles, skin, hair, enzymes, hormones, and neurotransmitters.
Ongoing studies continue to recommend jujubes as a fruit with the potential to threaten and even prevent allergies and several types of cancer.
Jujubes have relaxing properties and are a good source of natural antioxidants. They may help promote relaxation, maintain liver function, limit free radical damage, keep cholesterol levels in the normal range, and treat hair loss.
Fortunately, the West now has a better opportunity to discover what most of the world already has. The delicious versatility of this exotic fruit.