Jujubes are particular and little known fruits in our gastronomic culture but with numerous benefits for our health. Discover the characteristics and properties of these fruits.
The jujube (Zizyphus jujuba) is a small to medium sized deciduous tree belonging to the Rhamnaceae family, native to India and China, which produces the “Chinese dates”, better known as jujubes.
The fruits, also known as jujube, when still unripe appear green, have a smooth and homogeneous surface with a white and juicy pulp, while the flavor is very similar to that of an apple. As they ripen the color of the jujubes changes, becoming red, the surface appears wrinkled and the flavor becomes more and more sweet, until it resembles a date.
Jujubes are eaten both fresh and dried; the best fresh varieties are Sugar Cane, Li, Sherwood, Chico and Honey Jar (with smaller and juicier fruits). The best drying varieties are the Lang and Shanxi Li and can be used in recipes to replace dates or apples. The period to taste the fresh fruits goes from late August to late autumn.
Thanks to their properties, jujubes have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine for a wide variety of ailments, including stress reduction and the treatment of constipation.
Jujube: calories and nutritional values
The nutrients most represented in jujubes are phosphorus, potassium, copper, vitamin B3, calcium, manganese, iron and in particular vitamin C which in these fruits has a particularly high concentration, greater than any citrus fruit. They are also rich in water and carbohydrates but low in fat and protein. Finally, remember that the calories of jujubes are 79 per 100 grams of edible part.
Nutritional values per 100g of jujubes:
- Waterfall: 77.86 g
- kcal: 79
- Proteins: 1.2 g
- Fat: 0.2 g
- Of which saturated: 0 g
- Fibers: 0.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 20.23 g
- Of which sugars: 5.4 g
- Potassium: 250 mg
- Phosphorus: 23 mg
- Soccer: 21 mg
- C vitamin: 69 mg
- Glycemic index: 25
- Cholesterol: 0 g
Jujube: nutritional properties
- Vitamin C: jujubes are particularly rich in vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) an essential element as it participates in numerous reactions in our organism: it acts as an antioxidant, is essential in the synthesis of proteins and hormones, protects cells from oxidative stress, supports the immune and nervous system participates in the formation of collagen and promotes the absorption of dietary iron;
- Potassium: essential mineral for blood pressure control, heart health and for the reduction of muscle cramps. A diet rich in potassium is particularly suitable for hypertensive subjects and for those suffering from stones and kidney disorders;
- Magnesium: plays an important role in various metabolic reactions such as muscle contractions, the correct functioning of the nervous system and the regulation of the hydro-saline balance;
- Phosphorus: a fundamental element that together with calcium is involved in the structure and maintenance of healthy teeth, bones and cells;
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin): micro-element involved in digestive health and in the reduction of cardiovascular and dermatological diseases;
- Calcium: it is the most present mineral in our body and, together with phosphorus, it is essential for the development and health of bones and teeth. It also participates in cellular reactions such as muscle contraction, nerve transmission, hormone secretion, vasodilation and contraction of blood vessels;
- Iron: fundamental component of hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body, and of myoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen to the muscles. The jugs have a good iron content;
- Saponins: these are phytochemicals present in jujubes that act as antioxidants providing protection against osteoporosis, reducing intestinal absorption of fats and lowering the risk of developing a particularly widespread female cancer, that of the breast.
Jujube: health benefits
The components present give the jujubes various beneficial properties for the organism. In particular, they perform a detox action on the body and offer benefits for the digestive system, but not only. Let’s now explore all the benefits of jujubes.
✓ Detoxifying properties of jujubes
Thanks to the presence of saponins and alkaloids, the consumption of jujubes is directly associated with the purification of the blood and the elimination of harmful toxins accumulated in our body, leading to a reduction in stress on the immune and lymphatic systems.
✓ Antioxidant action
Jujubes are an excellent source of antioxidants. Specifically, they contain vitamin C, flavonoids, polysaccharides and triterpene acids, which make these fruits excellent allies in the fight against the action of free radicals. In this regard, a study has found that the polysaccharides of jujube, ie sugars with antioxidant properties, can stop the formation of free radicals, neutralize harmful cells and reduce inflammation, a phenomenon at the root of numerous ailments. The presence of antioxidants and vitamin C also gives the jujubes the ability to strengthen the immune defenses.
✓ Benefits for the intestine
In addition to their good antioxidant power, these small fruits promote intestinal well -being. This characteristic is mainly due to the high presence of fiber, known for its beneficial digestive effects. Going a little more specifically, fiber is good for the intestine because it helps to soften and add volume to the stool, favoring the movement of food through the intestine and evacuation. Likewise, they also help in case of diarrhea.
Additionally, jujube extracts can help strengthen the lining of the stomach and intestines, reducing the risk of damage from ulcers, lesions, and harmful bacteria that may reside in the intestines.
✓ They improve digestion
One of the best known properties of jujubes is probably that of promoting the improvement of digestive processes, a characteristic determined by the presence of fibers, saponins and triterpenoids which play an important role in improving the absorption of nutrients and encouraging the movement of food through the apparatus gastrointestinal.
Thanks to this, the consumption of jujubes is useful in preventing constipation, cramps, a swollen belly and excess flatulence.
✓ They improve the sleep-wake rhythm
Jujubes are also used to improve sleep quality and reduce anxiety. People suffering from insomnia or restlessness can try to consume jujube decoction which is an excellent remedy for insomnia thanks to the calming nature of the organic compounds contained in this fruit which are able to relax the body and mind.
✓ Jujube and bone health
Thanks to the presence of excellent levels of calcium, phosphorus and iron, the regular consumption of jujubes is associated with better bone health, a fundamental factor for the prevention of osteopenia which, if not properly treated, can degenerate into full-blown osteoporosis.
✓ Cancer prevention
Although the mechanisms and relationships between the consumption of jujubes and the development of cancer are still under investigation, the results of several studies show a positive relationship between the bioactive compounds present in these fruits, the reduction of free radical activity and the spread of cancer cells.
In particular, this work, shows that among the bioactive compounds present in jujube, it is triterpene acids and polysaccharides that determine an antiproliferative and antitumor effect thanks to the induction of apoptosis (cell suicide).
How many jujubes to eat
Jujubes fall into the category of fruits and, as such, a portion is equivalent to about 150 grams. More practically, a serving of jujubes corresponds to a handful of fruit. When they are in season, it is possible to consume one or two portions of jujubes a day, possibly alternating with other seasonal fruits to always have a varied diet.
Jujube: how they are eaten
Fresh jujubes begin to be available on the market in the period of August-November, they are kept at room temperature for 3-4 days and for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Dehydrated jujubes, on the other hand, can be stored for several months and preferably in airtight containers.
Jujubes have an internal stone and are eaten like any other fruit, preferably with the peel. It is also advisable to consume fruits from organic farming. Let’s now see some tips for using and enjoying jujubes.
- You can consume them as a snack between a main meal and another, in order to break the sense of hunger;
- In a very similar way to dates, you can integrate them into preparations such as cakes, muffins and homemade bread;
- From jujubes it is possible to obtain exquisite jams;
- To reduce the glycemic index of your confectionery preparations you can use these fruits as a sweetener instead of sugar.
With this fruit then, it is possible to make an infusion. The infusion of jujubes is prepared by putting a handful of pitted fruits in boiling water, let it boil for 2 or 3 minutes, then turn off the heat and let it rest for another 10 minutes before filtering and drinking. With the addition of honey, the jujube tea also becomes a good cough remedy. In addition to the infusion, there is also the famous jujube broth, let’s see below how to prepare it.
Jujube broth: what it is and how to prepare it
Jujube broth is an autumn drink that is obtained by hydroalcoholic infusion of ripe jujubes and other fruits. There are several ways to prepare it, however, the generic procedure for preparing the broth involves cooking, in about 300 ml of water and on a low heat, 1 kg of jujubes (previously left to dry at least 2 or 3 days in the air), two bunches of red grapes (only the berries) and a variable quantity of sugar (generally 1 kg is used for 1 kilo of jujube).
Stirring from time to time and after an hour, proceed by adding two chopped quinces and a pomegranate, a grated lemon peel and a liter of red wine; therefore, it is preferable to increase the flame, mix and let the wine evaporate. Finally, the liquid must be filtered.
How to store jujubes
Jujubes are autumn fruits particularly suitable for various preparations (eg: sweets, jams, the typical “jujube broth”, etc.). In this regard, it may be useful to keep them for future use. A typical conservation method consists in keeping the jujubes immersed in grappa, inside an airtight container.
Other methods include drying the jujubes and removing the stone, followed by storage in the fridge or freezer (in the latter case, drying prevents the formation of ice crystals). Vacuum packing is also a further and effective method of preserving these fruits.
Jujube: contraindications and potential negative effects
There are no known contraindications or side effects from the consumption of jujubes and for this reason they can be safely taken by both children and pregnant women.