I bet you’ve heard of the candies known as jujubes, juju fruits or Jujyfruits. These variations of chewy, colorful, artificially flavored “fruit” flavored candies are anything but healthy. So why do these unnatural candies have the same name as a natural exotic fruit that’s loaded with health benefits?
Well, according to food historian Charles Perry, the candies originally contained jujube fruit juice, and at the turn of the century, it was common to use the candies for chest complaints. They were especially popular in theaters when moviegoers didn’t want their coughs to disturb fellow viewers. (1)
Today, the candies unfortunately don’t contain any jujube juice, but the good news is that jujube fruit, commonly called red dates, can be eaten fresh, raw or infused into tea to gain their anciently old (4,000 years!) health-promoting properties.
What Is Jujube Fruit?
Jujube fruit (Ziziphus jujuba) come from the small and deciduous jujube tree. The jujube tree is a species of Ziziphus in the buckthorn family (Rhamnaceae). The jujube is a drupe or stone fruit. Jujubes are also commonly called red dates, Chinese dates, Korean dates or Indian dates.
Similar to an olive or small date in size, fresh jujube fruit has the texture and crisp, bright flavor of an apple. In traditional medicine, the fruit, seeds and bark of jujube have been used to treat anxiety and insomnia, as well as as an appetite stimulant or digestive aid. (2)
While fresh jujubes have flesh that tastes similar to an apple, dried jujube tastes much like dates and have a similarly impressive nutritional profile. Like dates, jujube fruit is loaded with energy, essential vitamins and minerals, which provide its many health benefits.
1. Anticancer Abilities
The water extracted from jujubes has demonstrated its potential at inhibiting cancerous cells. One study in particular from the Vaccine and Serum Research Institute in Iran tested the water extract of dried jujube fruit for possible anticancer effects and induction of apoptosis (automatic cell death) of human tumor cell lines.
Using DNA fragmentation analysis, researchers showed that jujube extract suppressed the human tumor cell lines, especially a leukemia line. Overall, this scientific study showed jujube’s impressive ability to kill off tumor cells, making jujube fruit a potential cancer-fighting food. (3)
2. Insomnia Treatment
Jujubes and their seeds are commonly used in Chinese medicine to treat common sleep troubles like insomnia. Jujube fruit and jujube seeds contain compounds known as flavonoids, saponins and polysaccharides. Studies have shown that its jujube’s high saponin content that gives it the ability to act as a natural sedative and have a soothing effect on the entire nervous system.
One study out of China found that the saponin in jujubes demonstrated an effective sedative and hypnotic function, which can be used to help sleep. (4) A cup of jujube tea before bed might be just the ticket to a restful night’s sleep and help treat insomnia without drugs.
3. General Gastrointestinal Benefits
Jujube fruit has traditionally been used as a puree, paste, tea or soup to improve digestion. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry showed that an adequate consumption (defined as 40 milligrams per day) of jujube each day can improve the overall gastrointestinal environment and reduce the exposure of intestinal mucosa to toxic ammonia and other harmful compounds. (5)
4. Chronic Constipation Relief
A specific gastrointestinal benefit of jujube is relief from the common and very unwanted health problem of chronic constipation, working as a natural constipation remedy. A study published in Digestion investigated the safety and efficacy of an extract of jujube on people with prolonged transit time, which is indicative of constipation. Subjects received liquid Z. jujuba or placebo for 12 weeks.
For the jujube-treated group, symptoms normalized in 84 percent of subjects, but only 12 percent of the placebo group showed improvements. The study concluded that jujuba extract is an effective and safe treatment for chronic constipation. (6)
5. Uplifting and Calming Fruit
Jujubes are known for having a soothing effect on the mind and body. That’s exactly why they’ve been traditionally used as a natural antidepressant, anti-anxiety and anti-stress medicinal food. The seeds of the jujube fruit have been specifically implicated in reducing anxiety in animal subjects.
Results from one study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology suggest that jujube seed extract has anti-anxiety effects at a lower dose and sedative effects when used at a higher dose. (7) Unfortunately, there are currently no human studies on the sedative or anxiety-reducing effects of jujube, but the animal research has been encouraging to date for jujube’s potential as a natural stress reliever.
6. Rich in Disease-Fighting Vitamin C
As both a high-antioxidant food and vitamin C food, jujube consumption is an excellent way to increase your intake of key nutrients. Antioxidants are nutrients that block damage caused by free radicals. Excessive levels of free radicals in the body are linked with an accelerated aging process as well as more serious health concerns like cancer and heart disease.
Since our bodies can’t produce vitamin C on their own, it’s essential that we make sure we get enough vitamin C in our diets. Having just under a half cup of fresh jujubes fulfills over 100 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. That’s a pretty easy and tasty way to fight free radical damage and stave of disease.
Vitamin C is also key to healthy skin and hair, while helping heal wounds and injuries to the body more quickly.
7. Blood Pressure Helper
A cup of fresh jujubes has around 15 percent of your daily potassium needs. Do you know what potassium is good for? It’s excellent for keeping your blood pressure at healthy levels, which in turn is excellent for heart health. Jujube’s potassium is helpful for keeping the blood vessels relaxed. When blood vessels are relaxed, blood flow and pressure is much better. (8)
If you notice any high blood pressure symptoms creep up, jujubes may be helpful to get your blood pressure back in check.
Jujube fruit has quite an impressive nutritional profile with lots of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C.
100 grams (just under a half cup) of fresh, raw jujube fruit contains about: (9)
- 76 calories
- 20.2 grams carbohydrates
- 1.2 grams protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 69 milligrams vitamin C (115 percent DV)
- 250 milligrams potassium (7 percent DV)
- 0.9 milligrams niacin (4 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram vitamin B6 (4 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram copper (4 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligram manganese (4 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligram iron (3 percent DV)
How to Use
Unfortunately, in the U.S. jujubes aren’t easily found in grocery stores, but they’re often in Asian specialty stores that import exotic fruit.
If you’re purchasing raw jujubes, look for ones that are unblemished, firm and full. They should be greenish-yellow to yellowish-red in color with a smooth skin. As the jujube matures, its reddish skin darkens to maroon and then to purplish-black and begins to wrinkle like a date. This why it’s also commonly known as the red date or Chinese date.
Fresh jujube fruit can be eaten raw or used in place of apples in any recipe. Simply peel the skin and remove the single seed inside to use jujubes in an apple recipe. Jujubes can also be boiled, baked, stewed or dried. Traditionally, they’re commonly used to make a puree or paste that can be added to dishes for additional flavor, sweetness and health benefits. Some people also use jujubes to make vitamin C-rich jam.
Raw, fresh berries last for about three to four days at room temperature or for a couple of weeks when refrigerated. Dried berries stored in an airtight container away from heat and light can last for several months.
Aside from snacking on fresh or dried jujubes, you can also use jujubes in place of apples in any recipe. You can also make Homemade Jujube and Ginger Tea using dried jujubes, which is very calming and delicious.
Some other yummy jujube recipe ideas include:
- Samgyetang aka Korean Ginseng Chicken Soup
- Red Date Granola (just leave out the sugar)
- Chinese Chicken Broth with Ginger and Red Dates
Jujube Interesting Facts
- The jujube tree originated in China, where jujubes have been cultivated for over 4,000 years.
- It’s believed that there are as many as 400 cultivars of the jujube.
- Jujube trees came to the U.S. in the early 1900s when the first varieties were introduced to growers by the United States Department of Agriculture.
- Smoked jujubes are eaten in Vietnam and are referred to as black jujubes.
- In Jordan, Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries, jujube fruit is eaten as a snack or alongside a dessert after a meal.
- In the U.S., Jujubes is a brand name of a particular type of candy, but in Canada and India the word “jujubes” is generic and describes many similar candies.
- Ziziphin, a compound in the leaves of the jujube, suppresses the ability to perceive sweet taste.
- Jujube fruit tea is a welcome drink in Korean culture.
- Jujube is highly regarded as a sedative in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Risks and Side Effects
There are not any common negative side effects of jujubes reported, especially when consumed in normal food amounts, unless you have an allergy, but there are a few potential precautions to take.
Jujube may be acutely anti-fertility, but there is limited animal research to support this notion. (10) Speak with your doctor if you’re pregnant or trying to conceive.
If you have an ongoing health condition or are on medication, check with your doctor before using jujube medicinally.
Jujube might lower blood sugar so monitor your blood sugar closely if you have diabetes and use jujube in amounts greater than normal food amounts.
- Jujubes, fresh or dried, make a tasty and nutrient-boosting snack, and they can be used in place of apples in recipes.
- Jujube tea is an excellent calming beverage that can also help with insomnia and anxiety.
- Jujubes have been shown to be an effective and safe alternative to harsh and side effect-ridden over-the-counter laxatives.
- Whether you have chronic constipation or want to improve your general gastrointestinal function, jujubes can help.
- Research has shown that jujube fruit have potential anticancer, sleep-promoting and mood-improving effects.
Get FREE Access!
Dr. Josh Axe is on a mission to provide you and your family with the highest quality nutrition tips and healthy recipes in the world...Sign up to get VIP access to his eBooks and valuable weekly health tips for FREE!
Free eBook to boost
metabolism & healing
30 Gluten-Free Recipes
& detox juicing guide
Shopping Guide &