Having a distinct musky smell and deliciously sweet taste, jackfruit is a unique tropical fruit that is typically harvested during summer and fall.
It can grow to enormous sizes, measuring between 10 and 60 centimeters in length, 25 to 75 centimeters in diameter, and can weigh between 10 and 100 pounds, making it the largest tree-borne fruit in the world.
Specimens weighing more than 100 pounds have also been recorded.
Jackfruit originated from the rainforests of India’s Western Ghats and spread to other parts of the country, the East Indies and Southeast Asia. It is now planted in central and eastern Africa and has become quite popular in Brazil and Suriname. In Bangladesh, jackfruit is touted as the national fruit and it is considered the second-most important crop after mangoes.
The exotic jackfruit is green when unripe, and then turns light brown and spreads a strong fragrant smell once it is ripe. Like durian, jackfruit is round or oblong-shaped, and has an outer surface that is covered with blunt thorn-like projections that soften as the fruit ripens. Inside each fruit are hundreds of small, succulent yellow lobes. Most jackfruit trees can bear as many as 250 large fruits every season. The tree is used as timber as well.
Although jackfruit is still considered an exotic tropical fruit in the U.S., it is becoming more popular in the vegan and vegetarian circles as a meat substitute. After about one hour of cooking, unripened jackfruit starts to resemble the flavor and mouth-feel of pulled pork.
Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Jackfruit is a nutritional bonanza: it is rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, which makes it a good natural laxative. It can help improve digestion, as adequate fiber can be an effective natural remedy to prevent constipation, and it can also benefit those who want to lose or maintain their weight by giving a feeling of fullness.
Jackfruit is also known to contain significant amounts of vitamin A and flavonoid pigments (carotene-ß, xanthin, lutein and cryptoxanthin-ß), offering antioxidant and vision support. As it is low in calories and sodium and does not contain cholesterol or unhealthy fats, its luscious fruit lobes make a healthy, appetizing treat you can relish.
The enigmatic fruit is rich in B-complex vitamins, containing niacin, pyridoxine, riboflavin and folic acid. It is a viable source of minerals, such as iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese as well.
As a good source of vitamin C — also a powerful antioxidant — jackfruit offers about 23 percent of the recommended daily allowance (RDA), which makes it useful in helping fight off infectious agents while scavenging harmful free radicals in the body.
However, consume jackfruit in moderation because it contains fructose, which may be harmful to your health in excessive amounts.
Jackfruit Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 3.5 ounces (100 grams),raw or frozen
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie
Studies on Jackfruit
A study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition indicated that the pulp of jackfruit is a natural source of antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage. This means the fruit can help slow down skin aging and can even assist in repairing damaged molecules, like DNA.1
Jackfruit contains lignans and saponins, which are beneficial phytonutrients that have been shown to offer anti-cancer properties. Lignans have been found to help block the effects of the hormone estrogen, which may decrease risk of hormone-associated cancers (uterine, ovarian, breast and prostate). Saponins, on the other hand, are known to optimize immune function and reduce risk of heart disease.2
Another study published in The Ceylon Medical Journal categorized jackfruit as a low-glycemic index fruit, which is attributed to its dietary fiber content.3 Consumption of unripe jackfruit can even be used to fight high blood sugar level, according to a Sydney University Glycemic Index Research Service study.4
Researchers also regard jackfruit as a “miracle” food crop that could be a replacement for staple crops that are under threat from climate change. It is very easy to grow and can survive high temperatures, pests and diseases, and is even drought-resistant.
According to Shyamala Reddy, a biotechnology researcher at the University of Agriculture Sciences in Bangalore, India, the jackfruit is rich in calories and nutrients and if a person eats 10 to 12 bulbs, he or she won’t need food for another 12 hours. For these reasons, this fruit could be utilized to help save millions of people from hunger.5
Jackfruit Healthy Recipe:
Easy Jackfruit Curry
|500 grams fresh jackfruit
||2 medium tomatoes pureed
||1 tsp. virgin coconut oil
|½ tsp. cumin seeds
||½ tsp. mustard seeds
||½ tsp. nigella seeds
|2 bay leaves
||2 dried red chili peppers
||1 small onion (chopped)
|1 inch ginger (chopped)
||1 tsp. coriander powders
||½ tsp. turmeric
|¼ tsp. black pepper
||½ to ¾ tsp. Himalayan salt
||1 to 1.5 cups of water
- Heat extra virgin coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, nigella and mustard seeds and let them sizzle for about a minute. Add the bay leaves and red chili peppers, and then cook for several seconds. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and just a pinch of Himalayan salt. Cook until translucent (five to six minutes) and remember to mix occasionally.
- Add the turmeric, coriander and black pepper, mixing well. Stir while adding the pureed tomato, jackfruit and the rest of the salt. Cover and cook for approximately 15 minutes.
- Uncover and cook for another few minutes to make the tomato puree thicker. The jackfruit can also be shredded.
- Add the water and then cover and cook for 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the flavor accordingly, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook for an extra 10 minutes or longer, until your desired consistency is achieved. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
Jackfruit Fun Facts
Jackfruit emits a sweet yet putrid stench that has been described as a combination of overripe bananas, onions, pineapple and passion fruit. Like durian, the giant fruit is banned in airports and plane cabins, but it isn’t prohibited as cargo.
Jackfruit certainly brings something new to the table. Aside from its distinctive flavor, this interesting fruit also has an impressive nutritional profile that includes vitamins, antioxidants and phytonutrients. Researchers believe this tropical fruit could help solve the food shortage problem because it is high in calories, rich in fiber, virtually has no unhealthy fat and can even be grown very easily.