Jujuba or jujube (Ziziphus jujuba) is the savory fruit of the tree with the same name. Jujubes are known to have quite potent stress-relieving properties and were shown to enhance memory, attention and boost motivation. With a good vitamin and mineral content, jujubes are a far more nutritious fruit than our ever-present supermarket apple, with impressive antioxidant, antibacterial and antiviral effects. The fruit has been traditionally used to boost immunity and increase resilience to infection and disease. Other uses of the fruit indicate benefits for cardiovascular and digestive system health.
Jujube cultivars include: Li, Lang, Chico, Jin, So, Shui Men, Shanxi Li, Polenski, Sherwood, Sugar Cane, Silverhill, Topeka, etc. Jujube trees are quite resilient, withstanding high summer temperature as well as below freezing point temperatures (of about -30 degrees Celsius). They aren’t very soil-pretentious either. Plenty of sunlight and regular watering are all the requirements to be fulfilled for quality fruit. That being said, let’s talk about looks.
What does jujube look like? The fruit are small, plump and oval and may range in size from that of cherry to that of plum. If you ask me, they look very much like cherry plums. Unripe fruit have a smooth, crisp, light green skin, sweet white flesh and taste like green apples. As they mature, the skin turns to golden yellow, orange and finally dark red and purplish. Jujube fruit tend to wrinkle when fully ripe and, at this stage, look a lot like dates, hence their other names. The fruit of the jujube tree is also called jujuba, Indian date, Chinese date, Korean date or simply red date, all names having to do with either the distribution area of the tree or the appearance of the fruit.
What do jujube fruit taste like? Ripe jujube fruit taste a lot like dried apples and, overall, they are mild-flavored but quite savory. They boast a crunchy texture reminiscent of that of dates. Dried jujubes are pleasant-tasting as well. Last but not least, each fruit has a single inedible stone-seed in the center. The seed is better off planted somewhere rather than eaten.
What are jujubes good for? Here is a list of the top 5 nutrition facts and health benefits of jujube fruit:
1) Improves memory, attention and concentration. According to research, jujube is a nootropic, a food that improves memory, attention, concentration and other cognitive functions naturally. Eating the fruit on a regular basis can thus support brain activity without the side effects of regular nootropic medication as well as protect nerves from free radical damage.
2) Excellent antibacterial and antiviral properties. Being a great source of vitamin C, jujubes boast antibacterial and antiviral properties. A high intake of vitamin C not only reduces the frequency, but also the duration and severity of colds and flu, and reduces inflammation levels in the body, contributing to overall better health.
3) Offers antioxidant protection. Unripe jujube fruit (a.k.a. green jujube) are richest in antioxidants, notably polyphenols such as gallic acid, cinnamic acid and ascorbic acid. Antioxidants not only help prevent free radical damage, but also help reduce the harmful effects of an existent damage buildup such as inflammation. As you may already know, high inflammation levels have been found to precede the development of chronic disease (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, cancer and so on).
4) Alleviates stress. Traditional medical practices recommend eating jujube fruit or drinking jujube tea as a natural method of relieving stress. With around 79 kcal/100 g of fruit, jujube is safe to eat if wish to keep a steady weight.
5) Efficient natural remedy for sore throat. Being mucilaginous in texture, jujube fruit help calm irritation and soothe sore throat discomfort. In many countries, pharmacies offer special decoctions to help treat sore throat and calm cough.
Traditional medical practices recommend jujube fruit for boosting immunity, treating chronic constipation, lowering high blood pressure and as a natural contraception method for pregnancy prevention. While couples should definitely not rely on jujube for contraception, there may be some truth to other claims regarding their health benefits.
For instance, the fruit contains good amounts of potassium, a mineral with excellent blood-pressure lowering properties. Also, like all fruits and vegetables, jujube too contains dietary fiber which promotes easy and regular bowel movements. If you are lucky enough to already own a jujube tree, I wholeheartedly recommend that you indulge in its fruit every chance you get. It doesn’t get more natural than home-grown.