Antioxidant-Rich Breadfruit For Skin Health

  • Aysha FemyMD in Pathology/Pathologist Assistant, Yenepoya University, India
  • Irenosen AddehMaster of Science (MSc), Public Health, University of Debrecen, Hungary

Introduction

If you are looking for natural ways to enhance your skin health, the solution might be simpler than you think. Yes! A balanced diet consisting of essential nutrients plays a crucial role in our body's overall functioning, including our skin health.

Today, we will share some incredible benefits of a less-explored yet amazing fruit that is abundant in complex carbohydrates and antioxidants. And there is more to this! So first, let us uncover why antioxidants are like superheroes in skincare. Then, let us see how including breadfruit in your diet can contribute to your skin health by helping in skin rejuvenation and enhancing the youthful glow.

Why is skin health important?

Did you know that skin is the largest organ of our body? You will be surprised to learn that skin does much for our body. Here are some crucial functions it performs:

  • Skin is an important sensory organ, but apart from receiving stimuli, it acts like a barrier and protects our deeper tissue from the external environment
  • It protects us from physical factors such as sunlight and radiation, as well as germs, allergens, pollutants, and chemical substances
  • Skin helps maintain water and electrolyte balance and controls our body temperature
  • It is vital to our immune system (skin-associated lymphoid tissues)
  • Skin helps to get rid of things our body does not need, selectively absorbs what is necessary, and also stores certain substances for later use1,2

Apart from hydration, the food we eat also affects our skin. The nutrients in our food play a role in how our skin looks and how it works. Some foods have unique ingredients that can protect our skin.1 One wholesome fruit that can contribute to our skin health is breadfruit.

Nutritional profile of breadfruit

Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) is considered one of the top 25 superfoods in the world. It has potential health benefits that can help manage and reduce the risk of chronic conditions like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. What is unique about breadfruit is that it is low in calories despite its nutrient-rich composition. It is rich in proteins, complex carbohydrates, and dietary fibre.

It is also a great source of micronutrients like calcium, iron, vitamin C, B3 and potassium. It is also a good source of many essential amino acids and is particularly rich in leucine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, and valine.

Despite being loaded with all this goodness, breadfruit has a low glycemic index and is cholesterol-free, fat-free, and gluten-free. What stands out further is that breadfruit is also a powerhouse of antioxidants like carotenoids, mainly beta carotene and lutein.3,4

Understanding antioxidants

Our body generates many unstable molecules called free radicals during various metabolic processes. They can also be produced by environmental factors like radiation and chemical factors like pesticides and cigarette smoke. 

Free radicals are produced in all our body cells, and when they are made in excess, they can cause damage to the cells. This is referred to as oxidative stress. Excess free radicals are known to be a triggering factor that can fuel many diseases like diabetes, heart disease, etc.4

Like the other cells in our body, skin is also exposed to the damaging effects of these free radicals. It plays a role in several skin conditions like psoriasis, acne vulgaris, dermatitis, vitiligo, lichen planus, etc. Interestingly, free radicals can also speed up skin ageing by accelerating wrinkle formation, causing uneven pigmentation, and reducing its elasticity.4

Antioxidants are like superheroes which eliminate free radicals and protect our skin from oxidative damage.4

Breadfruit for skin health

Carotenoids 

High levels of carotenoids in breadfruit are natural antioxidants that protect our cells from potential attack by free radicals. Beta carotenes present in breadfruit are converted to Vitamin A (retinol) in the body. 

Vitamin A and its derivatives affect the thickness of the skin, it regulates sebum production and affects the colour of the skin. Vitamin A also affects hair and nail growth.

Retinoids help exfoliate dead skin and increase elastin synthesis, contributing to its anti-aging benefits.

Several studies have shown that carotenoid intake can help reduce sunburns and UV-induced erythema. Beta carotene, lycopene and lutein are essential as studies have shown that they can reduce the risk of developing skin cancers.4

Vitamin C

Breadfruit, especially the seedless variety, is an excellent source of ascorbic acid or vitamin C. It plays a vital role in maintaining the proper structure and function of the skin. 

Vitamin C helps synthesise ceramides, which help maintain skin hydration. It also plays a crucial role in synthesising collagen, which is required for our skin's health. Studies have shown that higher vitamin C intake can reduce the appearance of wrinkles.3,4

Melanin is naturally present in our skin; when produced in excess, it can cause hyperpigmentation. Vitamin C can prevent this as it is known to avoid the overproduction of melanin. Vitamin C can also protect against the harmful effects of UV rays on the skin.3,4

Zinc

Zinc is often listed as an active ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos and mineral sunscreens. This essential microelement is also present in breadfruit and in maintaining skin health.

Zinc is a potent antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage. It is required to produce new cells, maintain the structure of cell membranes, and for the proper functioning of skin cells. It also affects the skin's immunity and has been used for a long time for its regenerative and healing effects. 

Zinc also offers anti-ageing benefits as it can significantly reduce wrinkles and melasma.3,4

Copper

Breadfruit also contains copper, a fantastic antioxidant, which is essential for the overall condition of our skin. Copper is involved in many metabolic processes essential for our body's functioning. 

Copper helps increase collagen and elastin production in the skin. It also enhances the activity of other antioxidant enzymes that eliminate free radicals, thereby protecting skin cells and cell membranes from free radical injury.

Copper is also required to synthesise melanin, which is responsible for skin and hair pigmentation.

It has antimicrobial properties, and copper-containing medications have been used for centuries to treat eye and skin conditions. It has also been used in medicines to heal wounds and to treat skin inflammation, eczema, lupus, etc.1,5

Vitamin B3

The derivatives of vitamin B3 are infamously called niacinamide or nicotinamide. Just about 1 cup of cooked breadfruit can provide 9% of the daily value of Vitamin B3.

Various reactions in our body are required to release energy for the cells to function. It is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and helps repair damaged DNA. A diet rich in Vitamin B3 is also seen to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

A deficiency of Vitamin B3 can cause a disease called Pellagra, which affects the skin as well.6,7,8

Apart from these fantastic benefits of breadfruit, research has shown that the leaf extracted from this plant is a good source of compounds called polyphenols and flavonoids. These molecules can be used in the development of skin-whitening and anti-ageing products. However, further research is required to support these findings.9

How to include breadfruit in your diet?

Mature breadfruits have a potato-like texture. You could either steam cook or boil it. You could even fry or bake it to prepare casseroles, cakes, pancakes, bread, curries, stews, salads, and more. It can even be mashed to prepare delicious dips like hummus.

Ripe breadfruits are soft, sweet, and creamy, perfect to be eaten raw or made with sweet dishes or puddings and baked dishes.

FAQs

What are the health benefits of breadfruit?

Breadfruit's nutritional content has been shown to contribute to managing chronic conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and hypertension. Despite its nutrient density, breadfruit's low calories make it a wholesome addition to a balanced diet.

Does breadfruit have vitamin C?

Yes, breadfruit, especially the seedless variant, is a good source of vitamin C. It promotes the synthesis of ceramides and collagen, which are crucial for skin health and offers protection against the harmful effects of UV rays.

Is breadfruit good for eczema?

The nutrients in breadfruit are potentially beneficial for conditions like eczema. The antioxidants present in this fruit have been seen to help in skin regeneration.

Summary

Nutrients and antioxidants in breadfruit make it an excellent choice for healthy skin. Its wonderful blend of vitamins and minerals may support skin rejuvenation and shield against ageing. Including breadfruit in your diet could be a good and easy way to naturally boost your skin's radiance. So, add some breadfruit goodness to your meals and let your skin shine with the goodness of nature.

References

  1. Michalak M, Pierzak M, Kręcisz B, Suliga E. Bioactive Compounds for Skin Health: A Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Jan 16]; 13(1):203. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7827176/.
  2. Yang C-Y, Pan C-C, Tseng C-H, Yen F-L. Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammation and Antiaging Activities of Artocarpus altilis Methanolic Extract on Urban Particulate Matter-Induced HaCaT Keratinocytes Damage. Antioxidants (Basel) [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Jan 16]; 11(11):2304. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9687219/.
  3. Mehta KA, Quek YCR, Henry CJ. Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis): Processing, nutritional quality, and food applications. Front Nutr [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Jan 16]; 10:1156155. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10061028/.
  4. Michalak M. Plant-Derived Antioxidants: Significance in Skin Health and the Ageing Process. Int J Mol Sci [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Jan 16]; 23(2):585. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8776015/.
  5. Borkow G. Using Copper to Improve the Well-Being of the Skin. Curr Chem Biol [Internet]. 2014 [cited 2024 Jan 16]; 8(2):89–102. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556990/.
  6. Vitamin B3, niacinamide and reducing skin cancer risk: what does the research say? UNSW Sites [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 16]. Available from: https://www.unsw.edu.au/newsroom/news/2022/03/vitamin-b3--niacinamide-and-reducing-skin-cancer-risk--what-does.
  7. Joshi M, Hiremath P, John J, Ranadive N, Nandakumar K, Mudgal J. Modulatory role of vitamins A, B3, C, D, and E on skin health, immunity, microbiome, and diseases. Pharmacol Rep [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Jan 16]; 75(5):1096–114. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s43440-023-00520-1.
  8. Breadfruit, cooked nutrition facts and analysis. [Internet]. [cited 2024 Jan 17]. Available from: https://www.nutritionvalue.org/Breadfruit%2C_cooked_75208501_nutritional_value.html.
  9. Phung NDN. Evaluation of Some Biological Activities, Total Phenol and Flavonoid Contents of Artocarpus Altilis. European Journal of Engineering and Technology Research [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Jan 16]; 7(6):134–7. Available from: https://www.ej-eng.org/index.php/ejeng/article/view/2939.
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Aysha Femy

MD in Pathology/Pathologist Assistant, Yenepoya University, India

Dr. Aysha Femy, a dedicated pathologist and assistant professor at a leading medical school, excels in diagnostics and contributes to valuable academic research. Beyond her roles in teaching and research, Dr. Femy has honed her skills over the years, demonstrating versatility in crafting diverse content such as health blogs, case reports and research papers. Her writing encapsulates a perfect blend of expertise and enthusiasm, showcasing her unwavering commitment to demystifying medical complexities for a broader audience.

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