Jujube, also known as Chinese red dates or hongzao (红枣) in Chinese, has been cultivated and used in China, Korea, and many other countries in Asia as food as well as medicine for over 4000 years. In China, jujubes get a reputation as the cure-all fruit and are heralded by the Chinese as ‘the king of nuts’ for their super nutritional value. Jujube has only caught attention of the western world in recent years. As women, we should get to know this fruit up close and personal for it provides us with not only glowing healthy looking skin but also with many other health benefits. Read on to learn more.
What Are Jujube (Chinese Red Dates)?
Also known as Fructus Jujubae in Latin, jujube or Chinese red date is a deciduous shrub of the Rhamnaceae or Buckthorn botanical family. With over 400 jujube varieties, Chinese red dates also come in a variety of different names such as black dates, Korean dates , Rhamnus zizyphus, jujube dates, and more. Jujube trees can reach up to 40 feet in height with glabrous branches and shiny green leaves with usually two spines at the base of each leaf. The jujube fruits are of round or elongate shape and can grow from grape-size to plum-size depending on cultivar. Each fruit contains a single large seed in the center. The immature fruit has a green-yellow color while the fully mature fruit is entirely red. Shortly after becoming fully red, the fruit begins to soften and wrinkle. Jujube tree blooms from April to May and fruits from July to September. While it prefers sunny over shady areas, jujube tree can flourish in extreme temperatures with as little as eight inches of rainfall a year. Fresh jujube has a crispy texture, edible skin, and a sweet-tart, apple-like flavor. When dried, it attains a chewy, sweet, date-like consistency.
Where to Find Jujube?
Jujube is native to southern Asia, including southern and central China. It has been introduced to the rest of the world, primarily Europe and later in the States due to its nutritional popularity. In China, jujube fruit plant grows mainly in Xinjiang, Shanxi, Hebei, Henan, Shandong, Sichuan and Guizhou. In the States, it can be found in Texas, California, Washington State as well as in Pennsylvania. Some cultivars can also be found in northern Florida. Dried jujubes are available in Asian grocery stores year-round.
How to Use Jujube in Cooking?
Fresh jujube can be eaten as a fruit. Dried jujube varieties can be used to substitute dates or apples in recipes. Most dried jujubes come with the seed already removed. Jujubes can also be pickled whole. The most commonly use of jujube is tea. Asians also use jujubes in soup, porridge, sweet desserts, candy and are made into wine. The preservation of red dates in China for wine production has developed to be quite an industry. For me, I use jujube strictly in tea and soup. Once in a while, I would soak a few dried ones until soften and eat them as snacks.
Health Benefits of Jujube
So why are jujubes (Chinese red dates) good for women? The main biologically active components of jujubes are vitamin C, phenolics, flavonoids, triterpenic acids, and polysaccharides. It also contains 18 out of the 24 important amino acids which helps in the formation of more than 50,000 proteins of the body. Jujubes are also rich in carotene, B vitamins, flavonoids, calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, cyclic adenosine monophosphate, and other nutrients.
- Jujubes contain 70 to 80 times more vitamin C than in apples and grapes and 20 times more vitamin C than any citrus fruit. Vitamin C is the nutrient responsible for creating and maintaining collagen. This antioxidant strengthens blood vessels and gives skin its elasticity and strength.
- The powerful antioxidants and organic compounds found in jujube is why this fruit has been labeled as the herbal elixir of life as people claimed it guarantees youthful looking skin.
- The calcium, phosphorus and iron play an important role in preventing osteoporosis and anemia, both common in women.
- Jujube is rich in cyclic adenosine monophosphate, one of essential substances in the body’s energy metabolism. It enhances muscle strength, eliminates fatigue, dilates blood vessels, and prevents and treats of cardiovascular diseases.
- Polysaccharides in jujubes can reduce cholesterol, blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar and increase calcium absorption. Polysaccharides also supports positive mood, stops the effects of fatigue and acts as an anti-inflammatory by supporting the body’s anti-inflammatory processes.
Blood Detoxification: In ancient Chinese herbal text books, red dates are mentioned to strengthen the spleen and help to re-balance the body’s Qi (energy) which helps to digest food and tonify blood. In modern studies, the saponins and alkaloids found in jujube fruit have been directly linked with purifying the blood and eliminating harmful toxins from the body’s systems.
Treating Insomnia: Perhaps the best use of jujube, or at least one you can see immediate results, may be for treating insomnia and restlessness during time of ovulation and a few days before menstruation. The soothing nature of the organic compounds contained in this beneficial fruit maybe your best sleeping aid. Make jujube into tea and drink 2 – 3 cups each day.
Stress and Anxiety: The flavonoid glycosides A contained in Chinese red dates have sedative, hypnotic and anti-hypertensive effect. For people who regularly suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, snacking on some dried jujubes or or drinking jujube tea can help ease the mind and protect the body from the serious side effects of extended exposure to stress hormones.
Before consuming jujubes, consult a medical professional if you are suffering or are at risk of diabetes as the fruits contain fructose which can have negative affect on blood sugar levels. It’s best to lessen or avoid the consumption of red dates if you have stomach bloating or body heat or fever as this fruit can raise internal temperature.