Jujubes, also called Chinese dates, are the small, sweet fruits of the Ziziphus zizyphus plant, which is a small tree or shrub native to Asia. Jujube fruits start off green, but turn deep red to dark purple when mature. Asian cultures have long valued jujube fruits for their health and nutritional benefits. You can eat jujubes fresh or dry them to use in teas, candies, wines or syrups. Talk with a physician before treating any specific medical conditions with jujube fruit.
Jujube fruits contain high levels of carbohydrates, particularly glucose and fructose. These fruits also contain healthy amounts of vitamins B1 and B2, calcium, vitamin C, potassium and vitamin A. Jujube fruits are full of saponins, oleanolic and ursolic acids, flavonoids and sterols. The Chinese Herbs website adds that jujubes also offer small amounts of copper, sodium, iron and zinc. A 100 gram serving of dried jujube fruit contain 350 calories.
Ancient healers believed that the saponins and flavonoids found in jujube fruits have hypnotic and sedative effects. According to Drugs.com, animal experiments provide some evidence to support this belief. Mice given jujube fruits showed reduced anxiety, impaired coordination and increased sleeping times. While jujubes might be a natural alternative to prescription anti-anxiety medications and sleep aids, clinical trials on humans are needed to confirm this.
The Chinese Herbs website explains that the ursolic and oleanolic acids found in jujube fruits contain healthy levels of antioxidants. A study in the April 2004 issue of "Transplantation Proceedings" suggests that these antioxidants might protect and rejuvenate the liver. This animal study measured the healing ability of jujube fruits after the liver had been deprived of blood flow for 40 minutes. The results indicated that the jujubes helped alleviate oxidative stress and rejuvenate the liver. Clinical human studies are needed to confirm this.
Asian cultures have traditionally used jujube fruits to make soups, pastes or purees that were consumed to treat digestive ailments, such as constipation and lack of appetite. In animal experiments, jujube fruits have proven to increase fecal moisture content and decrease the amount of time it takes food to move through the gastrointestinal tract. Human trials have shown an improvement in constipation after taking 20 drops of jujube fruit extract each day, making jujube fruits a natural alternative to laxative medications, notes Drugs.com. Check with your doctor before using jujubes as a digestive aid, however.
Animal tests have shown that giving jujube fruit extract to mice with induced amnesia increased the levels of choline acetyltransferase, a substance that can help with cognitive impairment, according to Drugs.com. This means that jujube fruits might be beneficial to people suffering from Alzheimer's disease. The Chinese Herbs website adds that jujube fruits might also help patients with hypertension and shortness of breath. Because of their high vitamin C content, jujube fruits can be made into tea and used to soothe sore throats, according to the California Rare Fruit Growers.
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.