When you hear the word jujube, a colorful, fruit-flavored candy may come to mind, but there's also a pitted tree fruit called the jujube, which is grown primarily in Asia. In China, during the Dragon Boat Festival, people eat a dessert called "zongzi," which consists of a jujube inside a ball of sweet rice wrapped up in bamboo leaves. The ceremony also calls for throwing jujubes into the river, but you might be better off just eating them.
If you are trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight but you're bored with snacking on peaches and oranges, jujube fruit can help. Each 2-ounce serving of raw jujube, about four fruits, has only 44 calories and practically no fat but gives you 1/2 gram of protein. It is light and refreshing, adding variety and an apple-like flavor to your diet without expanding your waistline.
Vitamin C and Niacin
Jujube fruit can boost your immune system and helps keep you looking young. A serving of raw jujube gives you 39 milligrams of vitamin C, more than half of the amount that the Institute of Medicine recommends you get daily. Raw jujube fruit also may help speed your metabolism. Each serving has 0.5 milligram of niacin, a B-complex vitamin that helps you to convert food to energy and helps keep your blood pumping efficiently, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
You get even more antioxidant benefits from the pigments in jujube fruit, or its flavonoids. Each 100 grams of jujube fruit, about seven fruits, gives you 3 milligrams of catechins, which act as antioxidants. Catechins may also help keep you sharp and thinking clearly, according to researchers who published a study in the "Journal of Neuroscience" in 2012. They noted that giving mice catechin-rich diets made them better at learning and remembering
Although jujube fruit isn't a great source of essential minerals, it gives you a small dose of them. Each serving has 12 milligrams of calcium and 13 milligrams of phosphorus, helping your bones stay strong. It also gives you 6 milligrams of magnesium, which helps your muscles contract and can make you appear more toned. Jujube has 140 milligrams of potassium, which works against sodium to help keep your blood pressure low. Even better, jujube fruit is low in sodium with only 2 milligrams per serving.
Dried Jujube Fruit
Good things come in small packages, and dried jujube is no exception. An ounce of dried jujube fruit is low in vitamin C, but it has twice as much phosphorus and calcium as 2 ounces of raw jujubem, and it also has a higher concentration of flavonoids. Read labels and buy microwaved-dried or freeze-dried jujube fruit. These varieties have more antioxidants than sun-dried or oven-dried jujube, according to researchers from a study published in "Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry" in 2012.
- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry: Effect of Drying of Jujubes (Ziziphus jujuba Mill.) on the Contents of Sugars, Organic Acids, α-Tocopherol, β-Carotene, and Phenolic Compounds
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database: Jujubes, Raw
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database: Jujubes, Dried
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: USDA Database for the Flavonoid Content of Selected Foods
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Vitamin B3 -- Niacin
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes -- Vitamins and Minerals
- Journal of Neuroscience: Brain-Targeted Proanthocyanidin Metabolites for Alzheimer's Disease Treatment
- Northern New Mexico College: Jujube -- Planting a Sustainable Idea
- Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images