They say that good things come in small packages and jujubes certainly do. Jujubes are also known as Chinese dates and have been cultivated in China for over 4,000 years, where they’re used not only as food, but for medicinal purposes. The Chinese have used them for centuries to treat insomnia, anxiety and cold symptoms, but western medicine has only recently taken notice.
Jujubes are technically drupes because they contain one seed. When ripe, the fruits have red skin and flesh and may vary in size from the size of a grape to the size of a plum or small pear. Fresh jujubes have a crisp, juicy, sweet-tart flavor reminiscent of apples. Dried jujubes are chewy and sweet, resembling dates.
In the U.S., jujubes ripen from late summer to early fall. The fresh fruits only have a shelf-life of about one week, so you might have trouble finding them in the produce aisle. Look for products containing dried jujubes or jujube juice instead. You can also find jujube extract supplements and teas that deliver concentrated benefits.
Better yet, why not plant jujube trees in your backyard? The trees are among the easiest fruit trees to grow, and thrive in warm, sunny locations in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 6 through 10. Once you know about all the benefits they offer, you’ll definitely want a few trees of your own.
The Health Benefits of Jujube Fruit
1. High Levels of Antioxidants
Jujube fruits have more vitamin C than any citrus fruits and they contain at least flavonoids, or phytonutrients known to strengthen the immune system and reduce damage from free radicals. The flavonoid, apigenin, has anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties, while puerarin has been shown to lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
2. Anxiety Reducing Compounds
Jujube seeds have been found to contain spinosin and swertish, two compounds which have sedative properties. The compound, jujuboside A, affects the hippocampus portion of the brain, which controls emotional responses. Jujube extracts have been shown to effectively relieve anxiety and insomnia, according to Nutraceutical Research.
3. Overall Health
Jujubes contain over 18 amino acids, which promote healing and build tissue in the body. These tiny fruits are high in fiber, carbohydrates, and a wide variety of nutrients for energy and overall health.
If you’re able to find fresh jujubes, eat them as a delicious snack. Otherwise, keep dried jujubes on hand for snacking. Keep in mind, though, that the dried jujubes have more sugar and calories than the fresh ones. One-half cup of fresh jujubes has about 79 calories and 20 grams of carbohydrate. The same amount of dried jujubes has 287 calories and 74 grams of carbohydrate.
You may also want to add supplements that contain jujube extract to your diet to relieve anxiety or insomnia, or to build overall health. Check with your doctor before using jujube extract supplements, especially if you are taking prescription medications, which may interact with jujube supplements.
Want to learn more about the health benefits of jujubes?
Jujube or the Chinese date on YouTube.
Julie Christensen learned about gardening on her grandfather’s farm and mother’s vegetable garden in southern Idaho. Today, she lives and gardens on the high plains of Colorado. When she’s not digging in the dirt, Julie writes about food, education, parenting and gardening.