Promoting Digestion With Jackfruit

  • Simron JakhuBSc (Hons) Biomedical Science, University of Wolverhampton

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Introduction

What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit commonly found in Africa, Asia, and some regions of South America. Both the seeds and flesh are edible and are used in a variety of dishes. This includes savoury dishes, such as curries, and sweet dishes such as jam, ice cream, and jelly. Jackfruit grows on jack trees and its leaves, bark, and fruits are used in traditional medicine due to their anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and wound healing properties.1

Digestion

What is digestion and what is its importance?

Digestion is the process of breaking down food so it can be absorbed into the bloodstream. This includes fats, carbohydrates, and proteins as they contain essential nutrients for the body’s health.2

Nutritional content of jackfruit

High fibre content

Jackfruit is rich in dietary fibre, with the seed containing more fibre than the pulp.3 This has been linked to a decreased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.4 Dietary fibre is also a good laxative.6

Essential vitamins and minerals

Jackfruit is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6,1 and minerals such as potassium, phosphorous, magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron, and sodium.3 These all contribute to the overall health and proper functioning of the body.5 Jackfruit also contains vitamin A which helps maintain the integrity of the skin.6

Low in calories and fat

Jackfruit is low in calories, with 100g containing 94 calories,1 and a low fat content.5 It also contains essential fatty acids that have significant antioxidant activity.3

Dietary fibre in jackfruit

Soluble vs insoluble fibre

Soluble fibre dissolves in water whereas insoluble fibre does not. Soluble fibre lengthens the time that food passes through the digestive tract. This causes the stomach to empty more slowly, which causes a slower absorption of glucose. Insoluble fibre increases faecal bulk and reduces intestinal transit time.7

Role of fibre in promoting overall health

Fibre increases gut microbiota diversity creating a healthy gut microbiome and contributing to overall health. It plays an important role in regulating metabolism and preventing chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.8

It has been demonstrated that fermentable fibres cause noticeable variations in the composition of the gut microbiome and the production of healthy metabolites. From the fermentation, short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are derived which are  important to health. These SCFAs regulate appetite and possess anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. They are also an energy source for cells in the intestine and therefore contribute to a healthy gut wall.10

The Western diet has a lower intake of fibre and increased amounts of sugar and fat which affects bacteria in the gut. The result of this diet may contribute to the increased risk of developing intestinal bowel disease (IBD), colorectal cancer, and other diseases. Adjusting the diet to increase fibre intake can help prevent these diseases.9 According to the British Medical Journal (BMJ), intakes of 25-29 g of daily fibre are adequate and intakes over 30g daily would be beneficial.10

Prebiotic properties of jackfruit

What is a prebiotic?

A prebiotic is “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, and thus improves host health”.11

Presence of prebiotics in jackfruit

The inner skin of jackfruit is a major source of prebiotics.12 Jackfruit seeds have the potential to be used as prebiotics when powdered into jackfruit seed flour. This seed flour promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum, enhancing the health of the gut microbiota.13

Prebiotics in digestive wellbeing

Prebiotics can be classed as a type of fibre which aids in digestive wellbeing. Prebiotics can be used to treat infectious and bacteria-induced diarrhoea, as well as constipation.14 Eating prebiotic foods helps maintain digestive wellbeing by promoting growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.

Incorporating jackfruit into meals

Incorporating jackfruit into baked products has shown to be quite successful. Supplementing jackfruit seed flour into bread increases its protein and carbohydrate content while promoting water and oil absorption. In biscuits and cakes, it also increases fibre and moisture. Chocolate cake, in particular, has shown improved content of dietary fibre and anti-oxidants. Overall, supplementing jackfruit seed flour into bakery goods increases  protein and fibre.15

In Indonesia, they have a variety of ways to use jackfruit in meals. Jackfruit is used in:16

  • Jackfruit curry
  • Sayur lodeh: Soups with vegetables and coconut milk
  • Sayur megana: Mixing chopped jackfruit with grated coconut and some spices
  • Gudeg: Jackfruit cooked with spices and served with rice, eggs, chicken, tofu, and sprinkled with coconut milk.

For vegetarians and vegans, some studies have shown the possibility of using jackfruit by-products in meat analogues. Meat analogues are foods structurally similar to meat but differ in composition. Meat analogues are normally composed of water, non-textured proteins, textured vegetable proteins, fat flavourings, bingeing agents, and colouring agents. A study has reported using 58% jackfruit by-products and 20% wheat gluten to create a preferable meat analogue.19

Potential considerations and precautions

Allergies

People can become allergic to jackfruit, with a few such cases reported in Asia. Jackfruit is a Bet v 1-related food allergy, where Bet v 1 is the major allergen present in silver birch pollen.17 Birch pollen in fresh fruit and vegetables can cause oral itching due to Oral Allergy Syndrome (OAS), which has a minimal risk of systemic symptoms.18

Due to two significant causes, there is a higher incidence of jackfruit allergies in Europe. Firstly, it has proteins that interact with the OAS-causing silver birch BetV1 protein. As a result, after eating jackfruit, people with OAS experience a markedly higher prevalence of oral symptoms. Secondly, the UK and other European countries habe been consuming more of this exotic fruit. It is uncertain how common allergic reactivity is in the nations where jackfruit is native, although it is probably extremely uncommon.18

Excessive consumption

Consuming excessive amounts of any food is not recommended. This applies to jackfruit, where it is widely believed that excessive consumption can lead to digestion problems.1 Excessive amounts of the vitamins and minerals found in jackfruit are also not beneficial to the body.

Summary

Jackfruit is known for its versatility in cooking. You can eat both the seeds and flesh, using them in savoury dishes like curries or sweet treats like jams and ice creams. The jack tree, where jackfruit comes from, is used not just for its fruit, but also in traditional medicine for its healing properties, including antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal effects.

Digestion breaks down food for nutrient absorption, which is crucial for overall health. The fibre in jackfruit supports digestion and acts as a laxative, potentially lowering diabetes and cardiovascular risk.

Jackfruit is packed with essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, and sodium. These contribute to overall health and proper bodily functions. Additionally, its low calorie and fat content, along with essential fatty acids, boost its nutritional value and antioxidant activity.

The inner skin of jackfruit is a source of prebiotics, encouraging the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This promotes digestive well-being and has the potential to address problems such as infectious diarrhoea and constipation.

Jackfruit, whether included in baked goods or familiar dishes like jackfruit curry and soups, introduces a delicious healthy ingredient to meals. Additionally, ongoing research is examining the utilisation of jackfruit by-products in the development of meat analogues, offering a valuable option for those with vegetarian and vegan diets.

Caution should be taken regarding potential allergies, especially in areas where jackfruit is gaining popularity. Moreover, consuming excessive amounts may result in digestion issues due to its high mineral content. Therefore, it's vital to practise moderation and be aware of individual sensitivities when adding jackfruit to your diet.

In conclusion, jackfruit can be a digestive health powerhouse, delivering a mix of nutrients, fibre, and prebiotics. Its adaptability in the kitchen makes it a beneficial inclusion in a varied diet, promoting overall health and bolstering digestive processes.

References

  1. Ranasinghe RASN, Maduwanthi SDT, Marapana RAUJ. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.): A Review. International Journal of Food Science [Internet]. 2019 Jan 6;2019:4327183. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6339770/
  2. Patricia JJ, Dhamoon AS. Physiology, Digestion [Internet]. National Library of Medicine. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544242/
  3. Brahma R, Ray S. Finding out various potentials and possibilities of jackfruit seed and its usage in the industry: a review. Food production, processing and nutrition [Internet]. 2023 Jul 11;5:55. Available from: https://fppn.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s43014-023-00170-z#:~:text=Jackfruit%20seeds%20are%20primarily%20rich,and%20provide%20significant%20health%20benefits.
  4. Ioniță-Mîndrican CB, Ziani K, Mititelu M, Oprea E, Neacșu SM, Moroșan E, et al. Therapeutic Benefits and Dietary Restrictions of Fiber Intake: A State of the Art Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2022 Jun 26;14(13):2641. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9268622/
  5. Bemmo ULK, Bindzi JM, Kamseu PRT, Ndomou SCH, Tene ST, Zambou FN. Physicochemical properties, nutritional value, and antioxidant potential of jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) pulp and seeds from Cameroon eastern forests. Food Science and Nutrition [Internet]. 2023 May 22;11(8):4722–34. Available from: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/fsn3.3437
  6. Arora T, Parle A. JACKFRUIT: A HEALTH BOON. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda & Pharmacy [Internet]. 2016 May 22;7(3):59–64. Available from: https://www.ijrap.net/admin/php/uploads/1547_pdf.pdf
  7. Mudgil D. The Interaction Between Insoluble and Soluble Fiber. In: Dietary fiber for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: fiber’s interaction between gut micoflora, sugar metabolism, weight control and cardiovascular health [Internet]. Academic Press; 2017. p. 35–59. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/322732961_The_Interaction_Between_Insoluble_and_Soluble_Fiber
  8. Cronin P, Joyce SA, O’Toole PW, O’Connor EM. Dietary Fibre Modulates the Gut Microbiota. Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 May 13;13(5):1655. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8153313/
  9. Makki K, Deehan EC, Walter J, Bäckhed F. The Impact of Dietary Fiber on Gut Microbiota in Host Health and Disease. Cell Host & Microbe [Internet]. 2018 Jun 13;23(6):705–15. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S193131281830266X
  10. McKeown NM, Fahey GC, Slavin J, van der Kamp JW. Fibre Intake for Optimal health: How Can Healthcare Professionals Support People to Reach Dietary recommendations? BMJ [Internet]. 2022 Jul 20;378:e054370. Available from: https://www.bmj.com/content/378/bmj-2020-054370
  11. Davani-Davari D, Negahdaripour M, Karimzadeh I, Seifan M, Mohkam M, Masoumi S, et al. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications. Foods [Internet]. 2019 Mar 9;8(3):92. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463098/#:~:text=Prebiotic%20was%20described%20as%20%E2%80%9Ca,and%20thus%20improves%20host%20health%E2%80%9D.
  12. Petsong K, Kaewthong P, Kingwascharapong P, Nilsuwan K, Karnjanapratum S, Tippayawat P. Potential of jackfruit inner skin fibre for encapsulation of probiotics on their stability against adverse conditions. Scientific Reports [Internet]. 2023 Jul 10;13:11158. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10333178/#:~:text=It%20has%20been%20reported%20that
  13. J N, Sharma S, Jose D. Health benefits of jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) seeds: A review. The Pharma Innovation [Internet]. 2023 Apr 14;12(6):879–88. Available from: https://www.thepharmajournal.com/archives/2023/vol12issue6/PartK/12-5-277-321
  14. Brownawell AM, Caers W, Gibson GR, Kendall CWC, Lewis KD, Ringel Y, et al. Prebiotics and the Health Benefits of Fiber: Current Regulatory Status, Future Research, and Goals. The Journal of Nutrition [Internet]. 2012 Mar 28;142(5):962–74. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022316622028206
  15. Waghmare R, Memon N, Gat Y, Gandhi S, Kumar V, Panghal A. Jackfruit seed: an accompaniment to functional foods. Brazilian Journal of Food Technology [Internet]. 2019;22:e2018207. Available from: https://www.scielo.br/j/bjft/a/5yY7zY6RXVSQQFgnPyKtTqj/?lang=en&format=pdf
  16. Yudhistira B. The development and quality of jackfruit-based ethnic food, gudeg, from Indonesia. Journal of Ethnic Foods [Internet]. 2022 May 26;9. Available from: https://journalofethnicfoods.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s42779-022-00134-7
  17. Iddagoda J, Gunasekara P, Handunnetti S, Jeewandara C, Karunatilake C, Malavige GN, et al. Identification of allergens in Artocarpus heterophyllus, Moringa oleifera, Trianthema portulacastrum and Syzygium samarangense. Clinical and Molecular Allergy [Internet]. 2023 Aug 11;21. Available from: https://clinicalmolecularallergy.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12948-023-00187-2
  18. Bansal R, Patel P, Sanghvi M, Bansal A. Jackfruit Allergy – An Increasing Exotic Problem Linked to the Oral Allergy Syndrome. Austin Journal of Allergy [Internet]. 2018 Feb 6;5(1):1032. Available from: https://austinpublishinggroup.com/allergy/fulltext/aja-v5-id1032.php
  19. Hamid MA, Tsia FLC, Okit AAB, Xin CW, Cien HH, Harn LS, et al. The application of Jackfruit by-product on the development of healthy meat analogue. IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science [Internet]. 2020;575:012001. Available from: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1755-1315/575/1/012001/pdf

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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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Simron Jakhu

Bachelor of Science - BSc (Hons) Biomedical Science, University of Wolverhampton

Simron is a first-class biomedical science graduate. She has experience in different areas such as data analysis, laboratory work, and academic writing. Her research project investigated the quantification of immunosuppressive proteins in glioblastoma multiforme by ELISA.

She is someone who enjoys learning and expanding her knowledge, especially in the areas of health and science. By using her experience and knowledge to write articles, Simron hopes they can be helpful to the general public.

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