What Is Jujube Fruit? Nutrition, Benefits, and Uses
Jujube fruit, also known as red or Chinese date, is native to Southern Asia but has become popular around the world.
These small round fruits with a seed-containing pit grow on large flowering shrubs or trees (Ziziphus jujuba). When ripe, they’re dark red or purple and may appear slightly wrinkled.
Due to their sweet taste and chewy texture, they’re often dried and used in candies and desserts in parts of Asia where they commonly grow.
In alternative medicine, they’re widely utilized to improve sleep and decrease anxiety.
This article tells you everything you need to know about jujube fruit, including its nutrition, benefits, and uses.
Jujube fruit is low in calories but rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
A 3-ounce (100-gram) serving of raw jujube, or about 3 fruits, provides:
- Calories: 79
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbs: 20 grams
- Fiber: 10 grams
- Vitamin C: 77% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Potassium: 5% of the DV
Due to their high fiber content and low-calorie count, jujubes make an excellent, healthy snack.
They contain small amounts of several vitamins and minerals but are particularly rich in vitamin C, an important vitamin with antioxidant and immune-boosting properties.
They also contain a fair amount of potassium, which plays a vital role in muscle control and electrolyte balance.
In addition, jujube fruits contain carbs in the form of natural sugars, which provide your body energy.
However, dried jujubes, which are more commonly eaten and used in cooking in many parts of the world, are much higher in sugar and calories than the fresh fruit.
During drying, the sugars in the fruit become concentrated, and additional sugar may be added during processing.
Jujube fruits are low in calories and high in fiber. They also offer several vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and potassium.
Benefits of jujube fruit
Jujube fruits have long been used in alternative medicine to treat conditions like insomnia and anxiety.
Animal and test-tube studies indicate that the fruit may offer impressive health benefits for your nervous system, immunity, and digestion.
Rich in antioxidants
Jujube fruits are rich in several antioxidant compounds, primarily flavonoids, polysaccharides, and triterpenic acids. They also contain high levels of vitamin C, which acts as an antioxidant as well.
Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent and reverse damage caused by excess free radicals.
Free radical damage is thought to be a major contributor to several chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.
Due to their ability to fight free radicals, antioxidants may offer several health benefits.
One animal study found that the antioxidant activity of jujube flavonoids helped reduce stress and inflammation caused by free radical damage in the liver.
In fact, most of the benefits of jujube fruits are credited to their antioxidant content.
May improve sleep and brain function
Jujubes are widely used in alternative medicine to improve sleep quality and brain function. Emerging research suggests their unique antioxidants may be responsible for these effects.
Jujube fruit and seed extracts have been found to increase sleep time and quality in rats.
Also, the fruit is often prescribed by alternative medicine practitioners to decrease anxiety.
Furthermore, animal and test-tube studies indicate that it may improve memory and help protect brain cells from damage by nerve-destroying compounds.
Research in mice even suggests that jujube seed extracts may help treat dementia caused by Alzheimer’s. That said, the seeds themselves are not usually eaten.
More human research is needed to fully understand how jujube extract may affect your brain and nervous system.
May boost immunity and fight cancer cells
Jujube may boost immunity and fight the growth of cancer cells.
One test-tube study noted that jujube polysaccharides, which are natural sugars with antioxidant properties, may fend off free radicals, neutralize harmful cells, and decrease inflammation.
Decreased levels of inflammation and free radicals can help prevent chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.
Another study found that jujube lignins, a type of fiber with antioxidant properties, promoted the production of immune cells and increased the rate at which these cells neutralized harmful compounds.
In a rat study, jujube extract boosted immune cells called natural killer cells, which can destroy harmful invader cells.
Jujube fruit is also rich in vitamin C, which is thought to have powerful anti-cancer properties.
One mouse study found high-dose vitamin C injections killed thyroid cancer cells.
Plus, test-tube studies have found that jujube extracts kill several types of cancer cells, including ovarian, cervical, breast, liver, colon, and skin cancer cells.
Researchers believe that these benefits are primarily a result of the antioxidant compounds in the fruit. Still, most of these studies were conducted in animals or test tubes, so more research in humans is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn.
May improve digestion
Jujube’s high fiber content may help improve digestion. About 50% of the carbs in the fruit come from fiber, which is known for its beneficial digestive effects.
This nutrient helps soften and add bulk to your stool. As a result, it speeds up the movement of food through your digestive tract and reduces constipation.
What’s more, jujube extracts may help strengthen the lining of your stomach and intestines, decreasing your risk of damage from ulcers, injury, and harmful bacteria that may reside in your gut.
In one study, jujube polysaccharide extracts strengthened the intestinal lining of rats with colitis, which improved their digestive symptoms.
Finally, the fiber in jujube may serve as food for your beneficial gut bacteria, allowing them to grow and overtake harmful bacteria.
Jujubes are rich in antioxidants. Animal and test-tube studies have found that extracts from the fruit improved brain function, immunity, and digestion. However, more research in humans is needed.
For most people, jujube fruit is safe to eat.
However, if you’re taking the antidepressant medication venlafaxine or other serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSNRIs), you should avoid jujube, as it may interact with these drugs.
In addition, one mouse study found that extract of the fruit may strengthen the effects of certain seizure medications, including phenytoin, phenobarbitone, and carbamazepine.
If you’re taking any of these drugs, you may want to discuss any possible concerns with your healthcare provider before adding jujube fruit to your diet.
While jujube fruits are generally safe, they may interact with the seizure medications phenytoin, phenobarbitone, and carbamazepine, as well as the antidepressant venlafaxine and other SSNRIs.
How to eat jujubes
Jujube fruits are small and sweet. Dried, they have a chewy texture and taste similar to dates.
When raw, these fruits have a sweet, apple-like flavor and can be eaten as a nutritious snack. They contain a pit with two seeds, which should be removed before eating.
Dried jujubes are also commonly sold for use in desserts or to be eaten by themselves like candy, especially in Asia. Still, keep in mind that dried fruits are higher in calories than fresh ones. Also, they’re a concentrated source of sugar, so you should limit them in your diet.
What’s more, jujube vinegar, juice, marmalades, and honey are common in parts of Asia.
While the fruits may be difficult to locate in grocery stores in the United States, some specialty grocers may carry them and related products. You can also purchase dried jujubes online.
Jujube fruits can be eaten raw as a snack. Dried jujubes are high in sugar and should be limited in your diet.
The bottom line
Jujube fruits, also known as red or Chinese dates, are low in calories and rich in fiber and other nutrients.
Due to their antioxidant content, they may offer some health benefits, but more human research is needed.
You should avoid the fruit if you take venlafaxine or certain anti-seizure medications.
Though both fresh and dried jujubes are highly nutritious, keep in mind that dried ones are higher in sugar and calories per serving, so they’re best enjoyed in moderation.