What Is Breadfruit Good For?

The Buzz on Breadfruit
Botanical name: Artocarpus altilis

Breadfruit Nutrition Facts

Cultivated for over 3,000 years, breadfruit is a crop native to Papua New Guinea1  and widely consumed throughout the Pacific islands. It’s also grown in other tropical parts of the world, such as the Caribbean, India and Africa,2 to name a few, and possesses a very distinct texture and taste.

While it may not be your first fruit of choice in terms of flavor profile, many experts believe that it may help provide food security in poverty-stricken parts of the world because of its abundant yield.3 Read on to learn more about the uses and benefits of this unusual fruit, and how you can incorporate it into your meals.

What Is Breadfruit?

Scientifically known as Artocarpus altilis, breadfruit is a tropical crop, characterized by its lumpy appearance and potato-like flesh. According to an article in the Daily Mail, it’s considered a cultural icon and an important staple crop in traditional Pacific island agriculture.4,5

Its potential as a stable food source was recognized by the Europeans during the 1700s. This prompted one of the biggest sailing adventures in history, with the goal of transporting breadfruit from Tahiti to Jamaican sugar plantations,6 where they were largely cultivated to feed slaves. Due to its historical affiliation with slavery, people in the Caribbean tend to shun it.7

Breadfruit trees can reach a height of up 48 to 70 feet. They’re relatively easy to grow, as they require little attention, labor and materials. Plus, they can adapt to different ecological conditions. These hardy trees usually start bearing fruit after three to five years, and continue to do so for decades.

Breadfruits come in round, oval and oblong shapes, with a weight that ranges between 0.5 and 12 pounds. A mature breadfruit has a smooth or bumpy outer skin and a flesh that looks creamy white or pale yellow. Meanwhile, a ripe breadfruit has a yellow or yellow-brown skin and soft, creamy flesh that tastes sweet even when eaten raw.8

Breadfruit Benefits That You Can Take Advantage Of

Breadfruit is rich in complex carbohydrates and fiber.9 A study published in the journal Amino Acid also deemed it a good source of high-quality protein, as it’s found to contain higher amounts of essential amino acids, particularly phenylalanine, leucine, isoleucine and valine.10

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, a cup of raw breadfruit contains a variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, vitamin C and vitamin B complex, among others.11 Due to its wide array of nutrients, breadfruit may deliver the following health benefits:12

 

  • Helps inhibit the negative effects of free radicals: According to the journal Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology, breadfruit contains phenolic compounds and flavonoids that have antioxidant properties — this makes it useful for fighting against oxidative stress caused by free radicals.13
  • Helps improve heart health: Breadfruit is found to have phytochemicals that may help prevent atherosclerosis,14 a condition where the arteries harden and narrow due to fatty deposits.15 Its extract may also help inhibit high cholesterol levels, which can make you more susceptible to heart disease.16
  • Helps reduce your risk for certain types of cancer: According to the journal Planta Medica, the chemical compounds of breadfruit exhibit cytotoxic properties against pancreatic cancer cells.17 A separate study published in the Phytotherapy Research journal also supports the cancer-fighting properties of this fruit, stating that it helped inhibit the growth of prostate tumors and induced apoptosis in prostate cancer cells.18

Breadfruit Nutrition Facts

Breadfruit boasts an extensive nutritional profile. In addition to the vitamins and minerals mentioned above, this fruit is also a source of copper, manganese, selenium, lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins E and K.19

Although breadfruit can provide you with many beneficial nutrients, you still need to limit your consumption of it, as its sugar content is relatively high — a cup of it has 24.2 grams of sugar, to be exact. If you want to know more about the exact amount of nutrients that you can get by consuming this fruit, then take a look at its nutrition facts table below:20 

Breadfruit

Serving Size: 1 cup — 220 g
  Amt. Per
Serving
% Daily
Value*
Calories 226.6 kcal 11 %
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0.5 g 1 %
Saturated Fat 0.1 g 1 %
Trans Fat - g  
Cholesterol - mg - %
Sodium 4.4 mg 0 %
Total Carbohydrates 59.7 g 20 %
Dietary Fiber 10.8 g 43 %
Sugar 24.2 g  
Protein 2.4 g  
Vitamin A-% Vitamin C 106%
Calcium4% Iron 7%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Breadfruit Uses That You Should Know About

There are many ways to consume breadfruit — ripe ones can be eaten raw, while mature and immature ones are cooked.21 Since raw breadfruit has a short shelf life, it’s commonly dried to allow for long-term storage. According to a National Geographic article, dried breadfruit can be ground into flour, which is a gluten-free alternative to ordinary wheat flour.22

Other parts of the breadfruit tree may also be used for environmental and agricultural practices. For example, its large leaves can be used for mulch, while its inner bark is traditionally used to make cloth for weaving and clothing. The dried flowers of breadfruit tree are also found to be useful for repelling mosquitoes and other insects when burned.23

How to Cook Breadfruit Properly

Aside from being eaten raw when ripe, breadfruit can also be cooked and incorporated into different types of recipes, from side dishes to desserts.24 However, before you learn how to cook breadfruit, it’s important to know how to prepare it first. Follow these steps from the U.S. National Tropical Botanical Garden:25

  1. Remove the stem. A few hours before cooking your breadfruit, snap off its stem and turn it upside down to let the sticky latex drain from the inside.
  1. Wash thoroughly. Wash the breadfruit to get rid of sap residue from its surface. If you used any utensils for preparing this fruit, be sure to wash them repeatedly to avoid sap from drying and creating a sticky residue.
  1. Cut the top portion. Cut the top part of the breadfruit where you removed the stem. This gives you a flat surface to stand the fruit on, making it easier for you to cut it into smaller pieces without the risk of rolling or slipping.
  1. Core and peel. Remove the hard central core of the breadfruit and peel off its skin using a paring knife or peeler. You can also do this step after the fruit has been cooked.

After preparing the breadfruit, you can now cook it in various ways to create a filling meal. Some of the ways to cook it include:26,27

  • Roasting: This method is one of the traditional ways to cook breadfruit. You can do this on an open flame until the fruit’s skin blackens and peels. You can also use an oven, where you need to cut the fruit into halves and cook the cuts on a baking pan with an inch of water, putting them flesh side down. Bake until you can easily pierce the flesh with a fork.
  • Steaming: Steam your breadfruit if you want to retain its moisture while cooking. To do this, you just need to cut the fruit into small pieces and cook them in a steamer until you can pierce them easily with a fork. After steaming, you can freeze the breadfruit for future use.
  • Boiling: Boiling is another method that you can use to retain breadfruit’s moisture. This method is similar to steaming, the only difference is that the cuts are now submerged and cooked in a pot of boiling water. Boiled breadfruit can be mashed and used as a substitute for mashed potatoes.
  • Frying: Breadfruit fries are rising in popularity, and you can make them at home by simply frying small cuts of this fruit in coconut oil or grass fed butter.

Try Making These Tasty Breadfruit Recipes
Breadfruit Salad Recipe

Breadfruit makes for a satisfying meal even when simply roasted or fried, and then flavored with sea salt and grass fed butter. However, if you’re looking to expand your culinary horizons, you can also take advantage of breadfruit’s versatile flavor to make mouthwatering dishes. Here are two recipes you can try:

Breadfruit Healthy Recipes

Ingredients:

1 large breadfruit, roasted, peeled and chopped into 1-inch pieces

1 cup celery, sliced thinly

1 cup green or red bell peppers, finely chopped

3/4 cup carrots, finely chopped

1/4 cup red onion, minced

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, minced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon mustard powder

Salt and pepper to taste

 

 

Procedures:

  1. Combine the breadfruit, celery, pepper, carrot, onion and parsley in a large bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, mustard powder and salt.
  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

(Recipe adapted from Beyond Vitality29)

Coconut Ginger Breadfruit Recipe

Ingredients:

1 steamed breadfruit

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped

1 small onion, diced

1 teaspoon coconut oil

3 tablespoons sliced carrots in matchstick shape

2 to 3 teaspoons traditional soy sauce

For the sauce:

1 teaspoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons fresh ginger, chopped

2 teaspoons onion, chopped

1 can coconut milk

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

 

Procedures:

  1. Cut the breadfruit into bite-size chunks.
  2. Sauté the onion and ginger in coconut oil then add in the carrots, breadfruit and soy sauce. Continue sautéing the ingredients until the carrots are tender.
  3. To prepare the sauce, sauté the ginger and onion in coconut oil first then add in the coconut milk and salt. Simmer for eight to 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the sauce over the breadfruit and carrots.

(Recipe adapted from National Tropical Botanical Garden28)

How to Store Breadfruit and What to Remember When Selecting and Eating It

While breadfruit can be eaten at all stages of development, it’s still best to choose a fruit that suits the dish you plan to cook. If your recipe calls for ripe breadfruit, look for a fruit that’s soft to touch and has a sweet, aromatic smell.

If you need to make a breadfruit dish with a starchy texture, then you should look for mature fruits that have greenish-yellow skin, light brown cracking and spots of dried sap. Meanwhile, immature fruits are bright green in color and are usually cooked as vegetables. Generally, you should avoid bruised breadfruits, as they soften sooner.30

Whatever type of breadfruit you choose, make sure that you store it properly to maintain its quality. A mature breadfruit usually ripens within one to three days at room temperature, but you can delay this by storing it in the refrigerator or fully submerging it in cool water. You can also store ripe breadfruit in the refrigerator or freezer to prolong its shelf life.31

Most importantly, remember not to overindulge on breadfruit, since it contains high amounts of sugar. A 220-gram serving of raw breadfruit contains 24.2 grams of sugar32 — that’s almost equivalent to the daily fructose consumption that I recommend, which is 25 grams per day for individuals without insulin or leptin resistance. With that in mind, eat breadfruit moderately to avoid exceeding the recommended daily sugar intake. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Breadfruit

Q. Where can you buy breadfruit?

A. You can buy breadfruit from certain supermarkets and online grocers. It’s shipped from countries in the South Pacific, and is available year-round, albeit in limited quantities.33 Be sure to purchase breadfruit from trusted organic sources to guarantee its quality and safety.

Q. What does breadfruit taste like?

A. Ripe breadfruit tastes sweet and creamy, with a texture that’s similar to custard, whereas mature fruits have starchy taste akin to potatoes. Immature breadfruits, on the other hand, taste similar to artichoke hearts.34