What is jackfruit?
Have you ever heard about a fruit that is considered a meat alternative in some parts of the world? Or else do you know about a crop that can be consumed as a vegetable and as a fruit? You can find all the answers to these questions in this article. This article is about the health benefits of jackfruit, which is a tropical fruit consumed as a vegetable, fruit and widely grown in tropical areas of the world.
Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is one of the largest edible fruits in the world.1 This is a tree-grown fruit and jackfruit trees can be found in many areas of Asia, Africa, and South America. This is a non-seasonal fruit and contributes majorly to sufficient food supply, especially as a rice alternative in non-urban areas of Sri Lanka. Due to these reasons, this is referred to as poor man’s food.2 However, consumption of jackfruit is not limited to rural areas and you can find different curries, desserts, drinks, etc. made from jackfruit, from rural households to luxurious hotels.
Jack tree is an evergreen medium-sized tree that reaches around 8 to 25m in height. It bears broad, elliptic dark green leaves. Jackfruit is a yellowish-green coloured, cylindrical-shaped fruit that is about 22 to 90cm in length and 13 to 50cm in diameter. The weight of the fruit varies highly between 2 to 20Kg and larger fruits weighing about 50Kg have also been reported. The outer surface of the jackfruit has an identical consistency with hexagonal, bluntly conical points. Underneath that lies a thick whitish-yellow wall.2
Peeling and accessing the edible part of jackfruit can be a hassle sometimes due to its thick peel and sticky gum. However, you do not need to worry about these pre-preparations as jackfruit is available at supermarkets as tinned jackfruit, canned jackfruit, frozen jackfruit, and dried jackfruit chips. If you visit Asia you will be able to find fresh packets of jackfruit for sale at the roadside as well.
Do you know that Jackfruit can be consumed at different maturity ages?
At a very young age when the fruit is not grown to its full size, it is called young jackfruit. Young jackfruit curry can be eaten with rice which very much tastes like meat and consumed as a meat alternative. Also, this is eaten as deep-fried chips and it can go inside your cutlets as a fish or meat alternative.
This is again eaten as a curry. Also, boiled jackfruit at this stage is eaten as a rice alternative. When these fruits are available in excess they are cut into small slices, dried in the sun, and preserved for future consumption.
This is the last stage of the fruit and it has a bright yellow or orange colour with a sweet taste. This can be eaten raw without any preparation. However, the puree of ripe jackfruit is used to prepare juice, jam, ice cream, jelly, marmalade, etc.1
Jackfruit seeds are eaten as a separate dish in several ways like boiling, roasting, or baking or else added into jackfruit curry. In addition, seeds are used to prepare jackfruit flour.
Health benefits of jackfruit
You will get multiple health benefits when you consume jackfruit. Jackfruit is well-known for its antidiabetic, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.1,2
- Helps you maintain a healthy heart
The antioxidant properties of jackfruit help you to reduce the risk of getting heart disease due to the oxidation of cholesterols. Also, jackfruit has some functional compounds that help in lowering your blood pressure and aid in improving muscle and nerve functions.
- Anti-cancer effects
Jackfruit has some nutrients (Phytonutrients such as lignans, isoflavones, and saponins) that promote anticancer effects. Some researchers have found that these nutrients help fight against cancer and help prevent the formation of cancer cells.2
- Protects your skin from age-related skin damage and improves your skin health
In addition, vitamin C in jackfruit helps you protect your skin from damage that occurs as a part of the ageing process. Also, this helps you to strengthen your skin and aids in maintaining your oral health.
- Helps improve the digestion of food
Dietary fibre in jackfruit acts as a laxative makes your stools bulky, and makes it easier to pass stools. So, this is good for someone who is having constipation.
- Protective effect against osteoporosis and anaemia
Jackfruit contains an abundance of minerals like magnesium which has beneficial effects against osteoporosis, by promoting the absorption of calcium. It is believed that jackfruit contains some iron which helps prevent anemia.2
- Helps keep your blood sugar levels low
According to some studies, hot water extract of jackfruit has shown improved glucose tolerance in the population with diabetes and normal healthy population. Eating jackfruit can help you to control your blood sugar level.2
- Fights against bacteria and worms
Moreover, methanolic extracts from jackfruit stem, root, bark, leaf, fruit, and seed are shown to be effective against bacterial infections and also against some worm infestations.2
- Helps wound healing
There are records that jackfruit leaf has wound-healing properties and had been used for wound healing in ancient times.3
- A good source to fulfil your vitamin needs
Jackfruit belongs to the genre of rare fruits which is rich in the vitamin B complex. This contains considerable amounts of pyridoxine (Vitamin B6), niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. In addition, jackfruit contains vitamins with antioxidant properties such as Vitamin C. Consuming jackfruit can fulfil a considerable portion of your vitamin needs.2
Jackfruit is a good source of:2
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3)
Also, 100g of the edible part of the young jackfruit contains:2
- Around 2 grams of protein
- 0.1 to 0.6 grams of fat
- Around 10 grams of carbohydrate/ starch
- Around 3 grams of fibre
- Around 94 calories
Side effects and other concerns
Despite all these health benefits and nutritional facts, jackfruit is still underutilized. The reasons for this underutilization and scarcity in the markets can be attributed to its short shelf life and inadequate processing facilities available at the places where it is available.2
Even though, jackfruit has a lot of health benefits it is not for you if you have birch pollen or latex allergy. There were few case reports of anaphylaxis reactions to jackfruit in patients with birch or pollen allergies.4
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is highly specific to tropical parts of Asia, Africa, and South America. Jackfruit is a tree-grown fruit and is considered one of the largest edible fruits in the world.
Jackfruit is highly suitable for the current world as it can be consumed as a meat alternative. Apart from this, jackfruit has many health benefits like improving heart health, anticancer effect, antioxidant effect, acting as a good laxative, etc. Further to this jackfruit is a rich source of vitamins and minerals as well.
Despite all these benefits consumption of jackfruit is below par. But lately, there have been lots of improvements that are made to improve and increase the consumption of jackfruit.
- Gupta A, Marquess AR, Pandey AK, Bishayee A. Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) in health and disease: a critical review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2022 Feb 10;1–35. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35144492/
- Ranasinghe RASN, Maduwanthi SDT, Marapana RAUJ. Nutritional and health benefits of jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.): a review. Int J Food Sci [Internet]. 2019 Jan 6;2019:4327183. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339770/
- Gupta N, Jain UK, Pathak AK. Wound healing properties of Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam. Anc Sci Life [Internet]. 2009;28(4):36–7. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3336336/
- Jalil M, Hostoffer R, Wu SS. Jackfruit anaphylaxis in a latex allergic non-healthcare worker. Allergy Rhinol (Providence). 2021;12:21526567211009195. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8165822/