I love the Farmers Markets near me. The Los Angeles area has a different Farmers Market everyday of the week. Lately I've found red dates at the market, they're called da zao or fructus jujubae in Chinese Medicine. They taste a little sweet fresh but when dried the sugar content seems much more concentrated. A little like the difference between fresh grapes and dried raisins.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the red date is used to tonify or strengthen the Qi (energy). Tonic herbs such as ginseng and red date can be eaten daily to boost immunity strengthen the a persons constitution and improve overall health. Red date can tonify the blood, which means it can help organs such as the liver and spleen do their jobs better. To receive the maximum health benefits from red dates you would need to eat 3-12 pieces of fruit a day or use it in pill or powder from that has the active constituents extracted and then packed into powders that offer a high dosage. Although, in Chinese Medicine it is not recommended as a single herb remedy.
Da Zao has some sedative effects on the central nervous system. We included it in our iSleep Herb Pac for this very reason. It also helps give iSleep a pleasantly sweet taste. It has been an herb used in cooking because of it's sweet flavor. It is used in many receipies because it's known to promote digestive functions. Chinese herb formulas often add da zao and ginger together to increase the absorption of herbs when taken in an herb formula. Don't over look this little fruit if you see it in the farmers markets. I usually buy it dried at the Asian markets near me, but its nice to eat it fresh every now and then.