Top 5 health benefits of jackfruit
A tropical fruit that has surged in popularity, but what exactly is jackfruit and should we all be adding it to our shopping lists? We asked registered nutritionist, Kerry Torrens
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a tropical fruit that grows in Asia, Africa and South America and is known to be the largest edible fruit in the world. The seeds and flesh of the fruit may be boiled and eaten in dishes like curries; when fully ripened the fruit can be enjoyed raw and used in both sweet and savoury dishes.
With a subtle sweetness, the popularity of jackfruit is partly because of its stringy flesh, the texture of which makes it a great meat substitute in vegan versions of classic recipes like pulled pork or chicken.
A 100g serving of canned jackfruit (drained) provides:
· 1.0g protein
· 0.3g fat
· 1.0g carbohydrate
· 4.7g fibre
· 96mg potassium
· 0.03g salt
Although, a popular meat substitute, the flesh of the jackfruit doesn’t contribute the same amount of protein, so for this reason it’s a good idea to combine it with other plant-based sources of protein such as beans, pulses, nuts and seeds.
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Top 5 health benefits of jackfruit
1. A source of vitamins and minerals
Jackfruit has a relatively low calorie count while, according to at least one study is richer in micronutrients than many other popular fruits such as apples, apricots, avocado and banana. In fact, its seeds and flesh contain more calcium and iron than other tropical fruits and is a useful source of B vitamins including B1, B3, B6 and folate.
2. May protect against disease
Jackfruit is a useful source of a wide variety of phytonutrients, these plant compounds are protective and may help prevent the development of certain chronic diseases, such as diabetes. They include vitamin C, carotenoids as well as polyphenols and flavonoids.
3. May be heart-healthy
4. May support immune function
It’s this gut-friendly fibre content along-with vitamin C and beta-carotene that suggests jackfruit may be useful for supporting immune health and potentially reduce the risk of viral infection.
In addition to this, a compound found in the seed of the fruit appears to activate key immune cells, called neutrophils. These immune cells are one of our first lines of defence, they boost the response of other immune cells and also initiate and mediate the inflammatory process.
5. May lower blood sugar levels
Jackfruit enjoys a low score on the glycaemic index (GI), this index measures how quickly the carbohydrates from a food affects blood sugar (glucose). A low score suggests a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels which may help you feel fuller and more satisfied for longer.
Phytonutrients in the leaves of the plant also appear to improve glucose tolerance in both those with normal blood sugar control as well as people with diabetes. However, it’s the flesh, rather than the leaves of the fruit, we typically enjoy in our western diets.
Is jackfruit safe for everyone?
Although safe for the majority of us, those with a birch pollen or latex allergy should be aware that they may experience a cross-reaction with jackfruit.
If you are concerned about food allergies please consult your GP or registered dietitian for guidance.
Have you tried jackfruit? What did you think? Share your experience in the comments below.
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This article was published in August 2022 by Registered Nutritionist Kerry Torrens.
Kerry Torrens BSc. (Hons) PgCert MBANT is a registered nutritionist with a post graduate diploma in personalised nutrition & nutritional therapy. She is a member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and a member of the Guild of Food Writers. Over the last 15 years she has been a contributing author to a number of nutritional and cookery publications including BBC Good Food. Find her on Instagram at @kerry_torrens_nutrition_.
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