Fruits and Vegetables of Asia
We tend to take other parts of the world for granted. Unless a person has experience with or exposure to a culture that is different from their own, it often does not occur to another person to learn about another part of the world. The same is true on a global scale. Unless administrations deal with foreign entities as part of a job, they tend not to study or bother to try and expose themselves to something that exists outside of their own affairs.
What sort of stuff are we missing out, then? What sort of things exist in the world that we don’t know about? Are there any interesting and exciting fruits and vegetables that can help you expand your pallet? Do you want to expose yourself to new nutritious and exciting things? Let’s talk about some amazing fruits and vegetables from places that America doesn’t really talk about.
Jujubes – Dates from Asia
If you grew up in the South and only have exposure to off-brand candy around Halloween, you are forgiven for confusing the above header with the gumdrops with the same name. However, this Jujube is not a gumdrop but is instead, a species of date. Originally from China, Jujubes exist throughout South Asia and are a delicacy that has grown in popularity in nearby parts of the world.
What is Jujube?
A Jujube is a small round fruit 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. Other names for them are Chinese Dates or Red Dates.
The fruit itself is rich in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and has a low-calorie count. They are also popularly dried and candied in plenty of areas. But how old are they? What benefits do they have specifically that make them stand out above the rest?
According to the California Rare Fruit Growers, “The jujube originated in China where they have been cultivated for more than 9,000 years and where there are over 400 cultivars. The plants start to travel beyond Asia centuries ago and today grows to some extent in Russia, northern Africa, southern Europe, the Middle East, and the southwestern United States. Jujube seedlings, inferior to the Chinese cultivars, were introduced into Europe at the beginning of the Christian era. The fruit eventually became introduced to the U. S. in 1837. It wasn’t until 1908 that Chinese selections came to US markets by the USDA.”
Basically, they have been easy to grow in areas where there is a lot of heat and the soil level is sandy or at least well-drained.
In general, Jujubes have a rich amount of fiber that is comparable to other dates and is certainly full of antioxidants and vitamins like Vitamin C and Potassium. But, there is an interesting property that sets the Jujube as a cut above the rest.
Specifically, Jujubes can help people fall asleep. According to a sleep doctor, “Two types of phytochemicals in jujube, saponins, and flavonoids, trigger changes to neurotransmitters, including GABA and serotonin, which can make it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep. At least one of the saponins in jujube, jujuboside A, helps to quiet activity in the hippocampus region of the brain. And jujube contains a flavonoid compound, spinosin, which appears to trigger sleepiness through its effects on serotonin.”
Also, there is another interesting fact behind the same flavonoids and saponins. Those same phytochemicals can also contribute to anti-anxiety effects. So if you are feeling a little stressed out, a Jujube or two might be what the doctor ordered.
Anything Else Important to Know?
If you are trying to decrease your sugar intake, you want to eat jujubes in their natural state. Just like any other fruit, when it goes through a drying process the sugars get higher in concentration. Plus, if you were to get it from someone else who did the drying process, they might have actually added more sugar to them.
Another important thing to look out for is your medication. If you are already on antidepressant medications, your body might overreact to the presence of too much serotonin. If you plan on using it as a supplement, talk to your doctor. The last thing you want to do is overdo brain chemicals.