In the Western world, when we think of healthy living, the first few things that often come to mind include exercise and lots of fitness, eating your greens and salads, drinking protein shakes, and maybe taking a glass of red wine here and there. But when asking my friends if they’ve ever heard of “Jujube,” the common response is often just, “Never heard of it.” Much to their surprise, Jujube is actually a very nutritious fruit often used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Here, we will talk about just a few of the many secret health benefits of this staple Asian superfood.
To start off, Jujube is a small, round, lightly sweetened, crunchy red fruit that is often known as the Chinese Red Date and grows well in temperate climates; when mature, the Jujube will often shrink and turn fully red. Mature Jujubes are often used as a medicinal herb while the immature ones are eaten more as a fruit. Though they look alike, Jujubes and Medjool Dates are not the same fruit and have different nutritional content!
Promotes Deep Relaxation
A few studies suggest that jujube may have potential benefits for relaxation due to its content of certain compounds. For example, jujube contains compounds such as betulinic acid and saponins, which have been shown to have a calming effect on the nervous system and reduce anxiety. In addition, jujube contains antioxidants, which have been shown to help protect against free radical damage and oxidative stress, both of which can contribute to stress and anxiety.
Jujubes are high in Vitamin C, even more so on-average than citrus fruits. A fresh Jujube has 69mg of Vitamin C per 100g while an orange only has 59mg per 100g. That number is further tripled to 218mg of Vitamin C per 100g for a dried, mature Jujube. This high concentration of Vitamin C makes jujube a great fruit to help your immune system when recovering from or fighting sickness.
Improves Sleep and Brain Function
Jujubes are also known to help with better sleep, better memory, and relieve stress and anxiety. Many scientific journals state that this red date can have “sedative and hypnotic effects.” Jujube seed extract in particular has been traditionally used as an ingredient for sleep aid. In addition, Jujubes can help protect brain cells from damage by nerve-destroying compounds, as well as protect against brain diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Promotes Healthy Blood Circulation and Monthly Periods
Traditionally, Jujube is known to “补血” or “buxue”, roughly translating to helping blood circulation and heart health. Jujube fruits are rich in antioxidant compounds that can prevent and reverse damage caused by free radicals, which causes illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. Studies show that antioxidant activity in Jujube flavonoids helped reduce stress and inflammation caused by free radical damage in the liver.
In Eastern medicine, Jujubes are also known to alleviate PMS symptoms. Traditional Chinese Medicine theory believes that we need to replenish the energy we use from bleeding by nourishing our blood. PMS is thought to be caused by stagnant liver Qi or blood, so when the liver is blocked, blood pools up in the uterus, making your period more painful. Drinking Jujube tea or eating Jujubes can be used to replenish blood and yang energy during the menstrual cycle.
Fights Cancer Cells
Since Jujubes can help boost immunity and reduce inflammation and free radicals, Jujubes can help fight the growth of cancer cells. Several studies have found that Jujube extracts kill several types of cancer cells, including ovarian, cervical, breast, liver, colon, and skin cancer cells. Even more recently, some researchers have been noting the potential of Jujube to be an anti-cancer agent as it is one of the four essential ingredients in the “Huang Qin Tang” formula in Chinese medicine that has been linked to help cure cancer. Though this theory is still in its works, there is absolutely no doubt that Jujube has so many health benefits and is definitely not a delight to be skipped.
Please note, if you are taking antidepressants or are pregnant, please discuss any possible concerns with your healthcare provider before adding Jujube to your diet.