Top 10 Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a giant fruit grown in tropical and subtropical regions, primarily in South Asia (e.g. India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) and Southeast Asia (e.g. Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia). It is a member of Moraceae family, which also includes breadfruit, fig, and mulberry.
Jackfruit is considered the largest tree-borne fruit in the world with an average weight of 3.5-10 kg and can reach up to 45 kg in weight, 90 cm in length, and 50 cm in diameter.
As in the durian fruit, the outer surface of the jackfruit is covered by thorns and is green in color, but the difference is that the durian thorns are pointed and sharp while the thorns of jackfruit are smaller and blunt. Both have distinct, strong aromas that are different and may be repelling to foreigners who are unfamiliar with the smell.
The inside of the fruit contains hundreds of yellow-colored bulbs and each bulb consists of sweet flesh (sheath) that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The seeds can also be eaten and are loaded with various nutrients.
Jackfruit Nutrition Facts
Jackfruit is very low in fat or cholesterol, and is high in dietary fiber. It is also a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and copper.
The following is the nutrition facts for one cup (165 grams) of sliced, raw jackfruit, according to USDA:
- Calories: 157
- Carbohydrate: 38.4 g
- Protein: 2.84 g
- Fat: 1.06 g
- Fiber: 2.5 g
- Vitamin A: 182 IU
- Vitamin C: 22.6 mg
- Magnesium: 47.8 mg
- Copper: 0.1 mg
- Potassium: 739 mg
- Folate: 39.6 mcg
- Calcium: 39.6 mg
- Iron: 0.4 mg
Moreover, this giant fruit contains carotenoids, like beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. These compounds have been known to have antioxidant properties, which are helpful in maintaining an optimum health.
Jackfruit Health Benefits
1. Prevents cancer
Jackfruit contains phytonutrients, such as carotenoids, lignans, and isoflavones, which have been found to help protect against many types of cancer. Jackfruit is also rich in vitamin C and fiber, which are known to reduce the risks of certain cancers.
2. Lowers blood pressure
Being a good source of potassium, jackfruit can help in lowering high blood pressure by lessening the effects of sodium in the body. Potassium also helps to ease tension in your blood vessel walls, which can further lower your blood pressure.
3. Boosts immune system
Jackfruit contains good amounts of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that can boosts immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells to help the body fight off diseases and infections.
4. Supports digestive health
Jackfruit, particularly the seeds, is a rich source of fiber, which can add bulk to stools and speeds up its movement. This will helps keep your bowel movements regular and prevent constipation.
Jackfruit seeds also contain prebiotics, which can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
5. Keeps your eyes healthy
With a healthy dose of antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, this fruit is very beneficial for eye health. They help maintain proper eye function and prevent eye diseases, like cataract and macular degeneration.
6. Enhances energy
Jackfruit is considered as an energy boosting fruit due to the presence of simple sugars like fructose and sucrose, which provide instant energy. Although jackfruit is an energy boosting fruit, it contains no cholesterol, making it one of the healthy fruits to savor.
7. Treats anemia
Jackfruit is packed with nutrients like copper, iron, and folate, which are required for blood formation. In addition, the iron in jackfruit helps encourage the production of hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to every cell in the body.
Low hemoglobin levels may lead to anemia, which could cause symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, and palpitations.
8. Strengthens bones
Jackfruit contains calcium, which helps in strengthening the bones. A lack of calcium in the body over time can lead to the development of osteoporosis.
Jackfruit is also a good source of magnesium, which is important in the absorption of calcium and work with calcium to help strengthen the bone and prevent osteoporosis.
9. Cures insomnia
Due to the high amount of magnesium present in jackfruit, it is also beneficial for those suffering from insomnia. Magnesium helps regulate the neurotransmitter levels in the body, helping you to sleep better. If you struggle with insomnia, having jackfruit before bed may help alleviate your symptoms.
10. Maintains a healthy thyroid
Copper plays an important role in maintaining a healthy thyroid function. It helps stimulate thyroid function by boosting hormones and improving metabolic functions, and jackfruit is loaded with this important trace mineral.
How to Choose and Store a Jackfruit
When buying a jackfruit, look for one that is bright green or yellow in color, depending on ripeness, and has a fragrant scent. It should yield slightly when pressed.
Jackfruit can be kept for up to five to six days in the refrigerator. You can also wrap up the pieces and keep them in the freezer for up to one month. But the fruit is best enjoyed when eaten as fresh as possible.
How to Eat Jackfruit
Ripe jackfruit can be eaten fresh or used in dessert such as ice cream. Unripe jackfruit can be used as a meat substitute as it has a texture very similar to chicken or pulled pork, making it an excellent ‘vegetarian meat’ for curries, salads, and noodles. Jackfruit can be bought either fresh or canned.
Is Jackfruit Seed Edible? If So, How Can I Eat It?
Yes, the jackfruit seeds are edible and highly nutritious. They contain good amounts of vitamins and minerals, including protein, riboflavin, thiamine, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Jackfruit seeds are also packed with fiber and resistant starch, both of which act as food for your beneficial gut bacteria.
Though jackfruit seeds contain several nutrients, some health experts believe that jackfruit seeds can be harmful to the body if eaten raw.
Raw jackfruit seeds contain antinutrients such as tannins and trypsin inhibitors. These compounds are known to interfere with nutrient absorption and digestion, making it difficult to digest food. For these reasons, you should not eat raw jackfruit seeds.
The good news is that heat inactivates these antinutrients. Therefore, always cook them before you eat them.
Jackfruit seeds can be prepared in many ways. However, roasting or boiling are two of the most popular preparation methods.
You can roast jackfruit seeds by preheating the oven to 205°C and laying them flat on a pan. Bake the seeds for 20 minutes, or until they are brown and toasted.
You can also boil jackfruit seeds in a large pot of water for 20–30 minutes. Once the seeds are tender, drain the pot and let them cool and dry.