Jackfruit gets its fame from being a great substitute for vegetarian pulled pork sandwiches. But did you know this tropical fruit is also rich in vitamins and minerals?
What is it?
Known by its Latin name Artocarpus heterophyllus or called Jaka and Nangka – The Jackfruit draws its origin from Southern India, and it is the biggest tree fruit known to man. In Bangladesh it is regarded as the national fruit. It is widely cultivated in Brazil, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand where it can also be used for wood. The Jackfruit has a rough green exterior which becomes soft and yellow inside once the fruit ripens.
In terms of taste, it is slightly sweet and tastes like a mild pineapple or apple. The most common way to eat Jackfruit is by eating the inner flesh or pods. It can also be a fantastic vessel for any cooking sauce! It has similar texture to chicken once it is reduced down.
Young or Ripe?
Jackfruit can be consumed both young and or ripe. When it is green and young, it has a texture that is stringy and resembles meat. Although on the outside, it has the same exterior as ripe Jack fruit. Ripe Jackfruit resembles any other fresh fruit, and has a sweet flavor. It can even be consumed raw! While ripe Jackfruit is sold whole at Asian markets, young Jackfruit can be preserved in brine and sold in a can. Ripe Jackfruit can also be canned, and its syrup used for sweet dishes.
15 reasons why you should eat jackfruit… now!
1. Improves Immunity
Jackfruit is rich in Vitamin C. It is also rich in isoflavones, lignans, and saponins. All of these molecules are powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent oxidation in the body. When oxygen molecules create free radicals, they go on to damage cells in our bodies. Antioxidants are important in slowing down aging and reducing the risk of certain cancers.
Vitamin C enhances the immune system’s response to pathogens. Immune system components such as T cells and phagocytes need Vitamin C to properly function. One study showed a deficiency in Vitamin C showed a reduced immune response to pathogens!
2. Improves Digestion
1 cup of Jackfruit contains 2.6 g of fiber. Fiber is a non-digestible carbohydrate that can either be soluble or insoluble. Insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water unlike soluble fiber, and passes through our digestive system. This improves the regularity when we have to go! While soluble fiber forms a gel in our intestines and protects intestinal muscles. Jack fruit has both soluble and insoluble fiber. Both can be found in the flesh of the Jack fruit.
3. Keeps Blood Sugar Stable
As mentioned before, Jackfruit is a fibrous fruit! Fiber keeps us full by slowing down the time it takes for food to pass through our digestive system. This makes blood sugar remain stable and prevents it from spiking. For Diabetics, this means better blood sugar control throughout the day.
In one study, Jackfruit pods and leaves were given to Diabetic subjects and subjects without the disease. They found that consuming Jackfruit improved the glucose tolerance of Diabetic patients (Fernando et al. 1991).
Jackfruit is rich in antioxidants such as isoflavones, lignans, saponins, and of course Vitamin C. Antioxidants work to reduce inflammation in our body. Free radical production in our body (the guys responsible for ceullular damage) is caused by not consuming enough antioxidants in the first place (Arulselvan et al. 2016)! Chronic inflammation can develop into an array of diseases such as cancer.
Maintains Skin Health
Jackfruit contains Vitamin A, which is also known as the skin vitamin. It supports the health of skin, eyes, and the reproductive system. The form of Vitamin A in Jackfruit is carotenoids, which are also found in products such as carrots and tomatoes!
Reduces Risk of Heart Disease
Jackfruit contains fiber, virtually no fat, and zero cholesterol. Consuming too much fat and cholesterol in one’s diet is the biggest red flag for heart disease. In fact, by 2020 it is predicted that 75% of deaths will be attributable to chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 Diabetes, and Obesity (Micha et al. 2014).
Due to the fact that Jackfruit comes from a plant, it doesn’t contain any cholesterol. The same cannot be said for anything derived from animals. Eating more Jackfruit can make HDL cholesterol in your body (the “good” cholesterol) pick up cholesterol in our body and bring it back to the Liver. Hence lowering overall cholesterol!
Jackfruit also contains fiber. Fiber helps to lower “bad” cholesterol in our body by preventing bile salts from being reabsorbed in the small intestine (Gunness & Gidley, 2010).
8. Lowers risk of certain Cancers
As mentioned previously, Jackfruit is rich in antioxidants which prevent cellular damage by free radicals. Cellular damage by free radicals is what triggers many diseases, such as certain cancers. It is important to consume antioxidants through food because of the various vitamins, minerals, and fiber that comes with them!
9. Improves Wound Healing
Magnesium is a mineral important in facilitating wound healing. Luckily, Jackfruit is a good plant-based source of Magnesium. In one study, patients with ulcers that were given Magnesium showed a decrease in their ulcer size over 12 weeks (Razzaghi et al. 2018).
10. Helps Regulate Fluid Balance
Jackfruit is high in the mineral Potassium. 1 cup of Jackfruit actually contains 20% of our daily value of Potassium! Electrolyes such as sodium, potassium, and chloride help regulate nerve and muscle function, and also fluid balance. A high concentration of electrolytes in a compartment draws fluid into that compartment, maintaining fluid balance (Overview of Electrolytes – Hormonal and Metabolic Disorders).
11. Important for Nervous System Function
Jackfruit contains Copper, which is an essential trace mineral important for the normal development of the brain and nervous system. According to WHO, consuming 1-3 mg of Copper per day prevents any deficiencies (Copper Essential for Human Health). Not consuming enough Copper can lead to degenerative diseases of the brain! Copper is involved in making neurotransmitters, which are like the mailmen of the brain, delivering messages to every neighborhood!
12. Helps Treat Insomnia
Jackfruit contains Magnesium, which is involved in regulating sleep! Many people even take magnesium capsules as a sleep-aid. It does so by binding to GABA receptors in the brain, receptors responsible for mellowing us out. One study showed that Magnesium supplementation helped to improve insomnia in elderly patients (Abbasi et al. 2012).
13. Can Protect Against Osteoporosis
Osteoporosis is a condition where the rate of bone resorption outpaces the rate of bone formation. There are lifestyle factors that can accelerate the risk of osteoporosis, such as over consumption of alcohol, hormones, diet, physical activity and smoking. Calcium and Vitamin D are important in preventing the loss of bone density, along with the mineral Magnesium (Erem et al. 2019). Consuming enough Magnesium increases the synthesis of Vitamin D, and in turn Vitamin D increases the absorption of Magnesium.
14. Naturally Fat-Free
Jackfruit like many other fruit, with the exception of avocado, contains very little fat. 0.5 g for 1 cup serving to be exact. Don’t get us wrong – fats are great for our bodies! They make up membranes and are involved in many cellular processes. But most of the population in North America consumes more than 35% percent of their calories from fat, although that number should be closer to less than 20%. Reducing overall fat consumption to normal levels is protective for our hearts.
15. Naturally Sodium-Free
Fruits are healthy for our kidneys because of their low levels of sodium. Jackfruit for example contains 0 g of sodium per 1 cup serving size. This makes it a great meat-alternative because of its low sodium and cholesterol!
- Vitamin A: 10% of our daily value
- Vitamin C: 18% of our daily value
- Riboflavin: 11% of our daily value
- Vitamin B6: 9% of our daily value
- Magnesium: 15% of our daily value
- Potassium: 14% of our daily value
- Copper: 15% of our daily value
- Manganese: 16% of our daily value
- Protein: 2.4 g
- Carbohydrates: 39.6 g of total carbs
- Fiber: 2.6 g
- Fat: 0.5 g
3 Easy Recipes for making Jackfruit
Try Jackfruit for one of your weeknight dinners! It will surely appease anyone looking for some satisfying munchies.
You guys! We have the best recipe for Jackfruit. If you don’t trust us, ask the people that have given rave reviews whenever we bring it as a sampler of our delicious BBQ sauce. Read here to find the recipe of Pulled BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich. Jackfruit can be incorporated into a bowl, as done here by The Minimalist Baker:
Or try these carnitas by Paleoish Krista which also happen to be Whole30 approved and Vegan!
Jackfruit can be incorporated into a bowl, as done here by The Minimalist Baker - Smoky Shredded Marinated Jackfruit.