The Little Known Nutritious, Medicinal Jujube

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Jujube (Chinese Red Date)

There is an amazing super fruit growing on a farm in Mildura, Victoria that you probably have never heard of!  But the secret is out, and you really need to know about this amazing fruit.

It is time to learn about Jujube (pronounced ju-jube). It is also known as a Chinese date or red date. Although it may be new to many, jujube has been revered as a super fruit for millennia. For more than 3,000 years, Jujube was widely used as a nutritious food as well as a medicinal food in China. To this day, it is an important ingredient in more than 50 per cent of all Chinese medicinal herbal formulas.

The Ancient History of Jujube  

Jujube is typically a small shrub or tree with small yellowish-green petals and drupe fruits that are about the size of a date and range from brown to purplish black. The Jujube fruit is shaped something like a small, wrinkly pear and has a taste and texture similar to an apple. And, like apples, there are hundreds of varieties of Jujubes. Some are as small as a cherry, while others are closer to the size of a plum. As for taste, that can vary, too — from sweet to tart and anywhere in between.

In an ancient Chinese book on herbal medicine Huangdi Neijing (475-221 BC), Jujube was described as one of the five most valuable fruits in China. In Shennong Bencao Jing (300 BC-200 AD), an earlier book recording medicinal herbs, Jujube was considered one of the superior herbal medicines for longevity by nourishing blood, improving the quality of sleep, and regulating the digestive system.

Since those ancient times, Jujube has travelled far and wide. It has spread to at least forty-eight countries and commercial jujube cultivation including South Korea, Iran, Israel, the United States, Italy, and other countries.

Jujube Arrives in Australia

Jujube finally arrived in Australia in 1993 when David and Val McCarthy established Australia’s first commercial jujube orchard. A small but loyal market was established in Sydney, with overseas-born Australians the first to recognize the rare jujube fruit.

With David’s passing, his son Bernard McCarthy carried on the mantle of his family’s love of jujube.  He began propagating and planting jujubes on his property near Mildura, Victoria giving birth to Jujube Australia. As Jujube production increased, Bernard transitioned from a freshwater research scientist in 2012 to a dedicated jujube farmer and promoter of this amazing jujube fruit. Today, Jujube Australia is proud to be the premium producer of fresh and dried Jujubes in Australia and is committed to delivering the highest quality jujubes. Bernard now has thousands of jujube trees happily growing on his Mildura property. He is excited to be introducing this special superfood fruit that has been cultivated and highly prized in China to health-conscious Australians!

Jujube – Joins the Ranks of a Superfood!

One thing is for sure: Jujube packs a punch in terms of its nutritional value.

According to Chinese medicine, Jujube is a powerful Qi tonic (generating life force) and provides excellent energy. This major tonic fruit is widely used in Chinese herbalism in combination with other herbs, such as Ginseng and/or Astragalus, to enhance their Qi-building capacity. Jujube nourishes the blood, soothes the mind, and builds and strengthens muscle. From a Chinese medicine perspective, Jujube calms the mind — without causing drowsiness — while increasing physical energy.

Jujube contains twenty-three types of amino acids that are not found in most other kinds of fruits, and it has numerous health benefits. The major minerals in jujube are potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. Also, there are high amounts of sodium, iron, manganese, zinc, and copper. Fresh Jujube also contains more vitamin C than an orange, riboflavin, and thiamine. Jujube is also high in fibre.

Traditionally, one of the main functions of Jujube, as described in herbal medicine, is to benefit our brain by calming down the mind and improving the quality of sleep. A study published in 2017 in the Journal of Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that jujube possesses neuro-protective activities, including protecting neuronal cells against neurotoxin stress, stimulating neuronal differentiation, increasing expression of neurotropic factors, and promoting memory and learning.

Who does not want improved sleep and a sense of inner calm? Jujube is especially effective for people whose insomnia and other sleep problems are related to stress and anxiety. The effects that jujube has on GABA and serotonin, two important neurotransmitters for mood and relaxation, contribute to the plant’s anti-anxiety powers. So, including Jujube in your diet will help you to calm your mind, quiet neural activity, and help induce and sustain sleep.

The health benefits of Jujube include:

  • Rich in Nutrients: Jujubes are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium, and fibre. In fact, they are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, flavonoids and phenolics. In fact, fresh Jujubes contain over one hundred times more Vitamin C than apples, and ten times more than oranges. Jujube is considered medicinal because it helps treat “blood deficiency” by providing iron and other nutrients that assist with anaemia, fatigue, weakness, and poor immune response.
  • Antioxidant Properties: Jujubes contain various antioxidants, including flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which help protect cells from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation. Antioxidants play a role in preventing chronic diseases and supporting overall well-being.
  • Improved Digestion: The dietary fibre content in jujubes promotes healthy digestion by aiding in regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Fibre also supports gut health by feeding beneficial gut bacteria.
  • Sleep Aid: Jujube fruit is used as a natural remedy to promote relaxation and improve sleep quality, providing calming effects that may help with sleep disorders. Two types of phytochemicals in jujube, saponins and flavonoids, trigger changes to neurotransmitters, including GABA and serotonin, which can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. And jujube contains a flavonoid compound, which triggers sleepiness through its effects on serotonin.
  • Stress and Anxiety Reduction: Jujube has anxiety-reducing effects. Certain compounds in jujube help to modulate neurotransmitters and reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: Jujube helps to manage blood sugar levels. Certain compounds in jujube may help improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar spikes. Research has also identified jujube as having anti-obesity effects, with an ability to inhibit fat accumulation in the body.
  • Liver Health: Jujube supports liver health and protects the liver from damage. These effects are attributed to its antioxidant properties.
  • Skin Health: Jujube extracts have been explored for their potential to enhance skin health. Antioxidants in jujube may help protect the skin from damage caused by UV radiation and environmental pollutants.
  • Cardiovascular Health: Jujube’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory abilities may deliver broad benefits and protections to the heart and cardiovascular system. Jujube has been shown to increase levels of healthy HDL cholesterol without increasing the “bad” LDL cholesterol. Jujube may offer protection against arteriosclerosis.
  • Cancer Protection: Many of the bioactive compounds found in jujube, including saponins, flavonoids, antioxidants, polysaccharides, and triterpenoids, have been shown to have the ability to slow the growth of, and kill, some types of cancer cells. Jujube is being studied as a potential preventative therapy and treatment for cancer.

 

The Many Ways to Eat Jujube

A great characteristic of the jujube is that it is delicious to eat as a chewy and sweet dried date. Dried Jujubes are incredibly versatile. There are endless culinary possibilities to prepare Jujubes, which are only limited by your imagination.

Jujube dates can be used in teas, soups, smoothies, cooked dishes, or eaten raw straight from the package as a snack and tonic supplement. It is an excellent super fruit that fosters glowing health when consumed consistently. And while fresh Jujubes are not readily available, you can order your dried jujubes online. Dried versions can be used in recipes similar to other dehydrated fruits. They work well in jams, breads, dessert fillings and more. Or just mix them with nuts to add some chewy bits to your trail mix.

I personally love the taste and texture of dried Jujubes. I snack on a couple each day (better than going for the chocolate treats). I also add them to fruit compotes, porridge, and muesli, cook them with rice or other grains, add them to bread or muffin recipes, steep them as a healthy tea or add them to my favourite herbal brews.

Now that the secret is out about the many health benefits of Jujube, it should be added to your list of healing fruits. And what is even more exciting is that Australia grows some of the highest quality jujube in the world. While Jujube is not yet available in your supermarket or health shop, it can be easily purchased online. Check out the wide variety of jujubes at Jujube Australia https://jujubeaustralia.com

Jujubes truly deserve to be recognized as a super fruit. No wonder Traditional Chinese Medicine revered the jujube fruit for enhancing health and longevity years. It is time to discover for yourself why Jujube is the most nutritious, medicinal, and delicious fruit for your well-being!


Sherrill Sellman, ND, is a Naturopathic Doctor, best-selling author, women’s health expert, psychotherapist, contributor to health magazines worldwide, lecturer and host of two weekly podcasts. She is a huge fan of jujubes! She can be found at www.drsherrillsellman.com and @sherrillsellman.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5478819/
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/334591587_Jujube_a_super-fruit_in_traditional_Chinese_medicine_heading_for_modern_pharmacological_science

 

 

 

 

 

 

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