Antioxidant-Rich Jackfruit For Skin Health

  • Austeja BakulaiteMSc by Research in Biomedical Sciences (Life Sciences) – the University of Edinburgh
  • Irenosen AddehMaster of Science (MSc), Public Health, University of Debrecen, Hungary

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What is Jackfruit?

Did you know that there is a fruit some people consume as a meat alternative that is full of antioxidants that can benefit your health? Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is one of the most enormous edible fruits in the world. The average weight can range from 5 to 20 kg, and it can go up to 50 kg.1

It is thought that jackfruit originated from the Western Ghats of India; however, some believe it could have originated from Malaysia.2 Jackfruit trees (jacktree) tend to grow in tropical and subtropical regions throughout Asia, Africa and South America.3 It is commonly known as ‘’the poor man’s fruit’’ as it is commonly consumed in poorer countries, sometimes as an alternative to other staple foods, like rice.4

Jackfruit consists of edible (pulp and seeds) and nonedible (rind and rachis) parts. Jackfruit is a highly versatile fruit. It can be eaten ripe or unripe (young jackfruit). The young jackfruit is commonly used as a meat alternative by vegans and vegetarians as it has a texture similar to pull meat.5

The ripe jackfruit can be eaten fresh just like other fruits. Additionally, the seeds can be cooked, roasted or fried before consumption.3 Depending on the variety of jackfruit, the bulb's colour can be cream, white, light yellow, yellow, deep yellow, lemon yellow, light saffron, saffron, deep saffron or orange.2

Jackfruit is a highly nutritious fruit, and it is full of antioxidants, which are known to protect us against cancer, ageing, and degenerative diseases and help maintain the healthy condition of different body parts, including our skin.3

Nutritional profile of Jackfruit

Jackfruit is low in calories: 100g of the fruit only contains 94 calories, which means it can be beneficial as part of a weight-loss diet.3,6 Jackfruit is packed with nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, phytonutrients and fibre.3 The nutritional content of jackfruit can vary based on the maturity and variety of the fruit.2

Jackfruit is an excellent source of multiple vitamins and minerals, including (as per 100g portion of fruit):3,7

  • Vitamin A: Young - 30.0 IU; Ripe - 175.0-540.0 IU
  • Vitamin C: Young - 12.0-14.0mg; Ripe - 7.0-10.0mg
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B1):Young - 0.05-0.15mg; Ripe - 0.03-0.09mg
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B2): Young - 0.05-0.2mg; Ripe - 0.05-0.4mg
  • Niacin (Vitamin B3): Young - not available; Ripe - 4 mg
  • Calcium: Young - 30.0-73.2mg; Ripe-20.0-37.0mg
  • Potassium: Young - 287.0-323.0mg; Ripe - 191.0-407.0mg
  • Iron: Young - 0.4-1.9mg; Ripe - 0.5-1.1mg
  • Sodium: Young - 3.0-35.0mg; Ripe - 2.0-41.0mg
  • Phosphorus: Young - 20.0-57.2mg; Ripe - 38.0-41.0mg
  • Magnesium: Young - not available; Ripe - 27.0mg

The macronutrient content per 100g of jackfruit is:3

  • Protein: Young - 2.0-2.6g; Ripe - 1.2-1.9g
  • Carbohydrates: Young - 9.4-11.5 g; Ripe - 16.0-25.4 g
  • Fats: Young - 0.1-0.6g; Ripe - 0.1-0.4 g
  • Fibre: Young - 2.6-3.6g; Ripe - 1.0-1.5g

Additionally, Jackfruit has a high water content ranging from 76.2 to 85.2g in 100g of young fruit and from 72.0 to 94.0g in 100g of ripe fruit.3

The damaging effects of free radicals

Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules with an unpaired electron in their outer atomic orbital. Electrons like to be in pairs, so when a molecule has an unpaired electron, it becomes precarious and tries to correct this by stealing electrons from another molecule or giving the unpaired electron to another molecule. At low and moderate concentrations, free radicals have beneficial effects on the cells and immune function.

However, at high concentrations, free radicals can lead to oxidative stress, which causes damage to biological molecules, such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids, in the cell nucleus and cell membranes.8 Free radicals are produced as a by-product of the normal metabolism within the body and a reaction to external factors like exposure to X-rays, cigarette smoking, air pollutants, UV light, alcohol and industrial chemicals.8

Oxidative stress can promote multiple diseases, including eye diseases, cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, many types of cancers, inflammation and the process of ageing.9 Oxidative stress can also increase the risk of multiple skin issues, such as:10

  • Skin cancers, such as melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma, damage the DNA and activate cancer-promoting genes while suppressing genes which are involved in fighting cancer 
  • Many inflammatory skin conditions, like dermatitis and psoriasis, damage lipids in the cell membrane and form pores, which leads to swelling and other inflammatory symptoms

Skin ageing, is mainly by reducing the amount of type I and type III collagen in the skin Antioxidants are the body’s mechanism to fight the effects of free radicals. Antioxidants work by donating an electron to free radicals, making it less reactive and stable again.

Antioxidants can be produced within the body or from external sources, such as food or supplements. Some well-known nutrient antioxidants are vitamin E, vitamin C, carotenoids, trace metals (such as selenium, manganese, zinc), flavonoids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.9

Specific antioxidants in Jackfruit

Jackfruit is a nutritional fruit which is loaded with many antioxidants:

Vitamin C

Jackfruit has a high content of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the skin from oxidative stress. It protects the skin from damage, which occurs as a result of a natural ageing process and exposure to the sun. Vitamin C is also essential for producing collagen, which gives firmness and strength to the skin, promotes skin elasticity and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.2

Additionally, vitamin C decreases melanin synthesis, which can reduce skin hyperpigmentation in conditions like melisma or age spots. Furthermore, a vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, characterised by skin fragility, bleeding gums and poor wound healing.1

Carotenoids

Jackfruit contains carotenoids such as lutein, β-carotene, neoxanthin, 9-cis-neoxanthin, and 9-cis-vio-laxanthin.2 They are provitamins because they can be converted to active vitamin A. Carotenoids contribute to the fruit's colour and offer protection against UV radiation. They have antioxidant effects, which support skin health and reduce the risk of premature ageing. Some benefits that carotenoids can offer include influencing moisture and texture or elasticity of the skin.2,12

Phenolic compounds

Jackfruit is rich in phenolic compounds, including flavonoids.2 Flavonoids reduce free radical formation and scavenge free radicals, protecting against oxidative stress. They have also been shown to absorb UV radiation and reduce inflammation as well as reduce the risk of skin cancer.13

Minerals

Jackfruit contains essential minerals, such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, which play a role in maintaining skin hydration and wound healing, support cell function through maintaining normal metabolism and intact cell membranes, and contribute to the overall antioxidant defence system of the body as some antioxidants are dependent on these minerals.3,14

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is another antioxidant found in jackfruit, which protects against oxidative stress. Also, Vitamin A deficiencies have been linked to an increased risk of skin infection and inflammation.15

Precautions and considerations

Jackfruit is not a common allergen but is generally considered safe for consumption. However, one should be aware of some of the potential allergic reactions and sensitivities:16

  • Low cross-reactivity with latex: Jackfruit may contain proteins that resemble latex. A person who is allergic to latex might have an allergic reaction to jackfruit as a result
  • Cross-reactivity with pollen: Individuals with pollen allergies, in particular allergies to birch pollen, may cross-react to some of the jackfruit proteins
  • Food intolerance: Jackfruit contains lectin proteins, which can cause symptoms of food intolerance. Cooking the fruit usually reduces this, as this damages the structure of lectin proteins
  • High in salicylates: Jackfruits have a high salicylate content. Salicylates can worsen the symptoms of asthma, swelling, itching, and hives, as well as food intolerance symptoms in people who are sensitive to them

Summary

Jackfruit is a nutritious fruit native to tropical and subtropical regions across Asia, Africa and South America. Many vegans and vegetarians love it because of its meat-like texture and versatility. It is full of vitamins and minerals, minerals and antioxidants. Antioxidants are used to maintain a healthy body as they protect against cancer, premature ageing, and inflammatory diseases. They do this by countering the effects of free radicals, which are molecules causing damage to critical biological molecules, such as DNA, proteins and lipids.

Jackfruit is abundant with multiple antioxidants, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, carotenoids, and flavonoids, which protect the skin against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. These antioxidants promote collagen production to maintain skin elasticity and protect against wrinkles, as well as maintain healthy wound healing and protect against different skin cancers.

While jackfruit is considered safe to eat, it is worth noting that some people might have an allergic reaction to it, notably people who are allergic to latex or birch pollen, or they might experience food intolerance to some of the jackfruit’s contents. Therefore, it should be eaten in moderation and with these precautions in mind.

References

  1. Cheng M, He J, Gu Y, Wu G, Tan L, Li C, et al. Changes in Phenolic Compounds and Antioxidant Capacity of Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. (Jackfruit) Pulp during In Vitro Gastrointestinal Digestion. Antioxidants (Basel) [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 13(1):37. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10812572/.
  2. Ranasinghe RASN, Maduwanthi SDT, Marapana RAUJ. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.): A Review. Int J Food Sci [Internet]. 2019 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 2019:4327183. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339770/.
  3. Goswami C, Chacrabati R. Chapter 14 - Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophylus). In: Simmonds MSJ, Preedy VR, editors. Nutritional Composition of Fruit Cultivars [Internet]. San Diego: Academic Press; 2016 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; p. 317–35. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780124081178000143.
  4. Jagadeesh SL, Reddy BS, Swamy GSK, Gorbal K, Hegde L, Raghavan GSV. Chemical composition of jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) selections of Western Ghats of India. Food Chemistry [Internet]. 2007 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 102(1):361–5. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814606004201.
  5. The4. “Food of Tomorrow”- Jackfruit is serving as a meat alternative. Plantmade [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Feb 5]. Available from: https://www.plantmade.in/blogs/articles/food-of-tomorrow.
  6. [Internet]. 2023. Benefits Of Jackfruit For Weight Loss - Klarity Health Library; [cited 2024 Feb 5]. Available from: https://my.klarity.health/benefits-of-jackfruit-for-weight-loss/.
  7. Das K, Saha A. Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.), a potential fruit crop of Tripura and exploring its nutritional benefits. Int J Hortic Food Sci [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 2(2):10–2. Available from: https://www.hortijournal.com/archives/2020.v2.i2.A.42.
  8. Lobo V, Patil A, Phatak A, Chandra N. Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacogn Rev [Internet]. 2010 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 4(8):118–26. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/.
  9. Pham-Huy LA, He H, Pham-Huy C. Free Radicals, Antioxidants in Disease and Health. Int J Biomed Sci [Internet]. 2008 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 4(2):89–96. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3614697/.
  10. Liu H-M, Cheng M-Y, Xun M-H, Zhao Z-W, Zhang Y, Tang W, et al. Possible Mechanisms of Oxidative Stress-Induced Skin Cellular Senescence, Inflammation, and Cancer and the Therapeutic Potential of Plant Polyphenols. International Journal of Molecular Sciences [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 24(4):3755. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/24/4/3755.
  11. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 9(8):866. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5579659/.
  12. Zerres S, Stahl W. Carotenoids in human skin. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 1865(11):158588. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1388198119302392.
  13. Ma EZ, Khachemoune A. Flavonoids and their therapeutic applications in skin diseases. Arch Dermatol Res [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 315(3):321–31. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00403-022-02395-3.
  14. Haftek M, Abdayem R, Guyonnet-Debersac P. Skin Minerals: Key Roles of Inorganic Elements in Skin Physiological Functions. Int J Mol Sci [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 23(11):6267. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9181837/.
  15. Roche FC, Harris-Tryon TA. Illuminating the Role of Vitamin A in Skin Innate Immunity and the Skin Microbiome: A Narrative Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 13(2):302. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7909803/.
  16. Bolhaar STHP, Van Ree R, Bruijnzeel‐Koomen CAFM, Knulst AC, Zuidmeer L. Allergy to jackfruit: a novel example of Bet v 1‐related food allergy. Allergy [Internet]. 2004 [cited 2024 Feb 5]; 59(11):1187–92. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2004.00544.x.

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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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Austeja Bakulaite

MSc by Research in Biomedical Sciences (Life Sciences) – The University of Edinburgh

Auste is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Portsmouth working on the development of novel tyrosine kinase inhibitors as cancer drugs. She has several years of experience working on cancer research, biochemistry, molecular biology and drug discovery.

Additionally, Auste is interested in how alternative proteins and plant-based diets can improve public health, and environmental and animal welfare issues.

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