Ber or the Indian date fruit, also known as jujube, is filled with nutrients offering great health benefits – LUKE COUTINHO
The funny-sounding jujube is one of the most ancient fruits known to mankind. Not only is it bursting with flavour, it is also a treasure house of nutrients.
According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the jujube (ziziphus jujuba) grows in Europe, Australia, south and east Asia, especially the inland regions of northern China. Unsurprisingly, it has a special place in traditional Chinese medicine.
In India, it is commonly known as ber and is available aplenty during the winter season. It’s eaten as a fruit, in dried or powder form, as chutney or after marinating it with salt. Regardless of how you choose to eat it, it’s a powerhouse of nutritive goodness. Its health benefits are not restricted to the fruit, but also its bark, roots and seeds which are extensively used in ayurvedic medicine. The leaves, for instance, are used to
treat typhoid, the root to soothe a fever, bark to make eye drops, and seeds as medications for treating liver, heart and digestive tract ailments.
Mine of minerals
Jujubes are rich in active compounds such as flavonoids, triterpenoids and saponins that boast anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-tumour, anti-aging and sedative properties.
Rich in antioxidants such as vitamin A, C and E, jujubes also contain the alkaloid sanjoinine which soothes anxiety and is a natural sedative. It is full of vitamin B as well and abundant in minerals such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and zinc.
The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study says: “The fruit has a long history of usage as a fruit and remedy. Its main biologically active components are vitamin C, phenolics, flavonoids, triterpenic acids, and polysaccharides. Recent phytochemical studies of jujube fruits have shed some light on their biological effects, such as their anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, immune-stimulating, antioxidant, hepatoprotective, and gastrointestinal protective activities and inhibition of foam cell formation in macrophages.”
Around 100 gm of jujubes contain 75 mg potassium, which is good news for people with high blood pressure. The saponins in jujubes help improve cardiovascular health by protecting myocardial cells and regulating cholesterol levels by binding excess cholesterol (LDL and triglycerides) and aiding its excretion. They also protect arterial walls from oxidative damage. However, those with high potassium levels should avoid this fruit.
Jujuboside A, a compound in jujube, can protect the brain from high levels of glutamate, which is dangerous in increased concentrations. It also plays a role in alleviating Alzheimer’s disease by reducing the toxic effects of amyloid beta plaques that are formed on brain cells. Extracts of jujube are known to improve memory and learning by stimulating nerve cell growth.
If you are looking for natural options to manage stress, consider jujubes. The saponin in jujubes has a calming and sedative effect on the nervous system and can treat insomnia. It does so by increasing GABA (a neurotransmitter) activity. You can use jujube oil extract, a supplement or the fruit itself, when you are stressed.
Jujube juice or its extract is commonly used in Chinese medicine to treat skin-related problems such as sun-burn, inflammation, skin allergies like eczema, psoriasis and even acne. It can make scars fade and better still, increases skin elasticity. In combination with essential oils such as Vitamin E, rosemary and peppermint, jujube seed extract can work wonders for bald patches or thinning hair.
|Benefits of jujube – Vita fix
Jujubes contain strong immune-boosting and antibacterial properties. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, thereby helping to fight sore throats, colds and coughs. The fruit boosts immunity by ensuring good gut health. It helps in enzyme secretion, cures constipation, and prevents cramping, bloating, and flatulence.
The fruit is also a good source of antioxidants that help fight many chronic diseases, including liver and kidney ailments.
(Luke Coutinho is a Mumbai-based integrative and lifestyle medicine consultant)