What is a Jujube?

Jujube (pronounced joo-joo-bee) is also known as a red Chinese date. It’s a fruit with a name that’s not only fun to say, but it has health benefits that have long been recognized in Chinese herbal medicine. The jujube fruit can be eaten fresh or dried. If you get the chance to try one fresh, you’d be surprised how similar it tastes to a sweet mini apple. It’s crispy like an apple and it holds a seed inside, so don’t forget to spit that out. When jujubes are allowed to dry in the sun until they shrivel and brown, they are still edible, but they will taste more like a date. Commonly, the dried versions are used to make jams, desserts, teas or soups. This fruit is originally cultivated mainly in South Asia, however nowadays, it grows well throughout most of the southern half of North America. To buy them, they’re usually available at Chinese or Korean grocery stores, Chinese medicine halls, and Amazon.com.

Aside from its good taste, curious to learn more about this fruit’s health benefits? There’s good reason to add this into your diet. Keep reading to find out the great benefits it can provide.

  1. Its high in Vitamin C and fiber. Just a 3-oz (100-gram) serving of fresh jujube, or about 3 fruits, provides 225 to 530 milligrams (mg) of Vitamin C and 10 grams of fiber. For adults, the recommended daily amount for vitamin C is 65 to 90 mg a day, and the upper limit is 2,000 mg a day. For fiber intake, it is recommended to have 25-35 grams of fiber a day.
  2. It may help promote better sleep. In Chinese herbal medicine, jujube has been traditionally prepared as a tea that was used against insomnia. While there’s a lack of strong evidence to support its effectiveness in fighting insomnia, people without insomnia may find it supportive of healthy sleep throughout the night.
  3. Antioxidants content may boost immunity. Jujube is rich in vitamin C, which is thought to have powerful antioxidant effects. In addition, this fruit is rich in several antioxidant compounds, including polyphenols and flavonoids, compounds that are naturally found in plant foods, such as fruits, vegetables, spices, herb, tea, dark chocolate, and wine. They can act as antioxidant to neutralize harmful free radicals that would damage our cells and increase our risk of conditions like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
  4. Improve blood circulation. The fruit contains minerals like potassium, phosphorus, manganese, iron, and zinc, a combination of these minerals are necessary for maintaining a good heart health. Eating jujubes may help improve the blood flow in the body.

Intrigued to try jujubes? Have them fresh or used dried in a recipe. Below are some of my favorite recipes.

An easy Chinese red date (Jujube) tea (Credit to doyou.com)
Jujube tea with goji berries (Credit to foodbaker.com)
Jujube ginger tea (Credit to Golubkakitchen.com)
Chinese ginseng chicken herbal soup (Credit to Yummly.com)
Watercress pork soup (Credit to Yummly.com)

lemon water benefits

Why I drink lemon water everyday

I’m a fan of fruit-infused water and love to experiment with different fruits and vegetables to make my water tasty (and pretty!) One of my favorite go-to’s is simply adding lemon to water. In the past, I would occasionally enjoy having lemon with my water, but my intake was never consistent until now. Over the 4 few months, I’ve started a new routine of having lemon in my water everyday. So far, the benefits have been great. And the best part is, it’s SO feasible, simple and cheap to do. Let’s talk about claims we’ve heard about having lemon water and whether they are true or not, based on my experience of having it everyday for the past 4 months!

Claim #1: It aids in digestion. Yes! I’ve had less GI symptoms such as bloating and constipation since starting this lemon water routine. Lemons have been talked about as detoxifying agents. The flavonoids in lemon and other citrus fruits aid the acid in the stomach in breaking down food, which can help improve overall digestion. And the water itself helps move things through the digestive tract to help prevent constipation.

Claim #2: Lemon is a good source of Vitamin C. It can help prevent colds and reduce the duration of colds. I can attest to this as well! I used to regularly take EmergenC packets for its high Vitamin C content until I started taking lemon water everyday. I’ve found that it’s a great alternative without the added sugar or artificial taste and I haven’t gotten a cold in a really long time (*knock on wood*). When I have had a scratchy throat that may be indicating a cold about to come through, I would take at least 16 oz of warm lemon water and I would feel much better the next day. No scratchy throat, no cold.

Claim #3: It helps your skin. I really believe drinking lemon water everyday has helped clear up my skin over the past few months. I started to notice slight improvements, including less acne, less dullness in my complexion and possibly, even my mild rosacea seemed to have calmed down. The reason why lemons are good for the skin is they’re a good source of antioxidants, which amazing natural components found in plants that can prevent cellular damage and fight free radical that eventually lead to wrinkles, spots and other aging skin problems. You’ll notice that many skin serums contain antioxidants like vitamin C, and why skincare experts always advise you to eat more antioxidant-rich foods.

Claim #4: Lemons can boost mood and energy. This is a really interesting claim and I was so curious to see if this is true. The fresh citrus flavor seems to help awaken me when I’m feeling tired. The smell alone is always a nice scent. Thanks to lemon water, I can skip the coffee for a moment.

kombucha and their health benefits

Kombucha (kom-boo-cha) – What is it and what are its health benefits?

What is kombucha?

Kombucha is a fermented beverage made from sweetened tea, often times using black or green tea. Its history dates back to at least two thousand years ago in the Far East Asia with origins in China. The tea was valued for its benefits in health, beauty and longevity. Emperors would drink this tea to keep strong, healthy and youthful.

The tea is fermented by bacteria and yeast. Yes, that’s right, bacteria and yeast in your beverage! This probably sounds gross, but fermentation is a natural process that produces good bacteria. When we eat or drink good bacteria, they help keep our guts and immune system healthy. When making kombucha, the initial sugar added to the tea is food for the bacteria and yeast, so by the end of the fermentation, there is little sugar left (usually less than 6 grams per 8 ounces of unflavored kombucha).

What does kombucha taste like?

The general taste of kombucha is tart, fizzy and slightly sweet. Some people may describe it as “acidic” or “tastes like vinegar”. The taste does vary though, depending how long the fermentation was and whether flavors were added to it. The longer the kombucha was fermented, the more acidic it becomes and it tastes more like vinegar. There may be traces of alcohol in it from the fermentation process, however you typically won’t taste it.

What are its health benefits?

  1. It is rich in good bacteria (also known as probiotics) and Vitamin B’s (including Vitamin B12) to help boost your immune system, balance your digestive system and replenish good bacteria in your gut.
  2. It has antioxidants, including Vitamin C. Antioxidants are important to help us fight colds, reduce inflammation and detoxify our bodies.
  3. Unflavored kombucha is usually low in calories (20-30 calories per 8 ounces) and low in sugar (2-6 grams per 8 ounces) which makes it a great alternative to unhealthy sweetened beverages such as soda or juice.
  4. Its packed with Vitamin B’s and has caffeine from tea therefore may give us a boost in energy levels!
  5. Early research studies are linking kombucha’s potential to reduce stress and anxiety levels. This makes sense considering our gut-brain connection! Stress affects our gut bacteria and decreases our immunity.

Tips on dealing with kombucha

  • If you’re buying kombucha, make sure you buy it from a reputable brand to ensure the safety and quality of the drink.
  • If you’re brewing your own kombucha, please practice safe food handling procedure to prevent contamination.
  • Choose a kombucha brewed with green tea for its higher concentration of antioxidants.
  • Be aware of the sugar content of flavored kombucha. There may have been juices or sweeteners added to it. For a low caloric, low sugar choice, choose an unflavored version.
  • Kombucha was brewed many centuries ago, but is just starting to grow in popularity in modern times and strong human clinical trials remains limited. With this in mind, drink it with discretion. Eating or drinking too much of anything is never good. When in doubt, I would recommend starting with 2-4 oz of kombucha per day to see how your body reacts to it.

 

ginger benefits

Health benefits of ginger

Did you know the ginger plant, also known as Zingiber officinale, is a tropical flowering plant? Yes, a flowering plant! You’re probably thinking ginger looks nothing like a flower. And that is because the part that we use is the underground stem of the plant, otherwise known as the “ginger root” or simply “ginger”.

Ginger is one of the most widely used spices in the world! Beyond cooking with it, it is often used in traditional and alternative medicine. Ginger can be used fresh, dried, as a powder, oil, extract or juice. The unique fragrance of ginger comes from its natural oil called gingerol. Gingerol has been extensively studied and studies have found that gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger that provides much of its medicinal properties including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

Here are some healthful and interesting benefits of ginger:

1. Ginger can help alleviate nausea. 

You can chew on raw ginger or brew warm ginger tea as a home remedy for nausea during cancer treatment, motion sickness or morning sickness during pregnancy. It  can also be found in the form of ginger lozenges or candies. Keep in mind that it may help alleviate nausea, but not necessarily prevent vomiting.

2. It helps provide relief to the common cold and flu.

If you have come down with a cold or flu, you might want to try drinking ginger tea by slicing up a few pieces of ginger and soaking it in a cup of hot water. The warmness you will feel after drinking it promotes sweating and works to keep the body from within warm. This is both a simple and amazingly soothing natural remedy for a cold or flu.

3. Take a detox bath with ginger.

By mixing ginger in a bath, it creates a diaphoretic effect, meaning it opens up your pores and promotes sweating, like a sauna. You can use either freshly grated ginger or ginger powder. Add about ½ a cup of ginger in hot or warm water and soak for 15-20 minutes. As you are sweating out the toxins, a ginger bath is also known to help improve the blood circulation, so you may come out more energized (and slightly more flushed). Make sure you drink plenty of water after your bath as you will likely sweat profusely.

4. Ginger can help with indigestion.

Ginger contains phenolic compounds that are known to help relieve gastrointestinal (GI) irritation and stimulate natural fluids such as saliva and bile to help digest and move food and fluid through the GI tract. It also relaxes the smooth muscle in your gut lining and helps speed up emptying of the stomach. Adding ginger to your dietary routine can  promote regular digestion and metabolism of your food and contribute to a strong immune system.

5. It can help reduce inflammation and pain. 

Gingerol found in ginger provides natural anti-inflammatory effects that has been found to help relieve pain associated with osteoarthritis. It can also be effective in reducing soreness and pain associated with exercise. In addition, ginger may also help reduce the symptoms of dysmenorrhea, the severe pain that some women experience during a menstrual cycle.