Top 10 Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a large tree fruit that grows 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.
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 arils (bulbs) – the sweet, thick orange-yellow flesh covering the seed which can be also eaten and contains various nutrients.
Jackfruit Nutrition Facts
Jackfruit is very low in fat or cholesterol, but it’s a great source of dietary fiber and essential vitamins like vitamin C, vitamin A, and vitamin B6. It is also a good source of minerals such as copper, manganese, magnesium, iron, folate, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.
The following is the nutritional value of one cup (165 grams) of sliced raw jackfruit [source]:
- Calories: 155
- Vitamin C: 11.1 mg (18% Daily Value)
- Manganese: 0.3 milligrams (16% Daily Value)
- Magnesium: 61.1 mg (15% Daily Value)
- Copper: 0.3 mg (15% Daily Value)
- Potassium: 500 mg (14% Daily Value)
- Carbohydrate: 39.6 grams (13% Daily Value)
- Fiber: 2.6 grams (11% Daily Value)
- Riboflavin: 0.2 mg (11% Daily Value)
- Vitamin A: 490 IU (10% Daily Value)
- Vitamin B6: 0.2 mg (9% Daily Value)
- Folate: 23.1 mcg (6% Daily Value)
- Calcium: 56.1 mg (6% Daily Value)
- Iron: 1 mg (6% Daily Value)
- Phosphorus: 59.4 mg (6% Daily Value)
- Zinc: 0.7 mg (5% Daily Value)
- Niacin: 0.7 mg (3% Daily Value)
Moreover, this giant fruit contains carotenoids like beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin (β-CX), lutein, and zeaxanthin. These compounds have been known to have antioxidant properties and are helpful in maintaining an optimum health.
Jackfruit Health Benefits
1. Boosts immune system
Jackfruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful nutrient which helps protect against viral and bacterial infections. Vitamin C helps boost immune system by supporting the white blood cells function. One cup of jackfruit can supply the body with a very good amount of this powerful antioxidant.
2. Prevents cancer
According to studies, phytonutrients bind to receptors in the same way estrogens do, and therefore it can significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers.
3. Aids digestion
Jackfruit is a rich source of dietary fiber. It stimulates the digestive process and reduce the symptoms of constipation and bloating. Fiber also offer protection against colon mucous membrane by removing the carcinogenic chemicals from the large intestine (colon).
4. Keeps your eyes and skin healthy
With a healthy dose of antioxidants, such as lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene, this fruit can be very beneficial for eye health. It enhances eye vision and acts as a preventer against cataract and macular degeneration.
It’s also regarded as an active anti-aging component for skin radiance. It protects damaged skin caused by sun exposure and prevent wrinkles.
5. Lowers blood pressure
Being a good source of potassium, jackfruit is very useful 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 helps further lower blood pressure.
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 saturated fats or cholesterol, making it one of the healthy fruits to savor.
7. Treats anemia
Jackfruit comes 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 causes symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, headaches, and palpitations.
8. Strengthens bones and teeth
Jackfruit contains calcium which helps in strengthening the bones and teeth. Our bones and teeth compile about 99% of the calcium found in our bodies. A deficiency in calcium can result in problems like osteoporosis, tooth decay, and muscle tension.
Jackfruit is also a good source of magnesium, a nutrient 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 thyroid metabolism and the production of thyroid hormones. 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.