By Joy Stephenson-Laws JD, Founder
I recently saw jackfruit in a grocery store in San Diego. It is a very unique fruit, which I ate as a child growing up in Jamaica. The fruit is so huge, I suspected it might be packed with a bunch of nutrients. It is possible many of you have never tried or maybe never even heard of jackfruit, so I decided to do some research to figure out what benefits this most unusual fruit contains.
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is the largest tree borne fruit in the world. An individual jackfruit can grow up to 100 pounds! Another fun fact about jackfruit is it is the national fruit of Bangladesh. It is a tropical fruit generally found in South and Southeast Asia as well as the Caribbean. With its prickly green exterior and pungent odor, jackfruit can be intimidating, but it’s an incredibly versatile, delicious and nutritious fruit. Think of them like avocados, which are certainly not pretty on the outside either but are filled with green, creamy goodness and beneficial fat.
How can I incorporate jackfruit into my diet?
There are numerous ways you can use jackfruit in your diet. It is popular in the vegetarian and vegan communities, because, believe it or not, it makes a great pulled pork alternative. I know it sounds crazy, but unripened jackfruit has a very neutral taste, and the flesh of the fruit has a stringy consistency (like pulled pork!). Due to the mild taste, the fruit takes on the flavor of whatever seasonings you use when you cook it. For a great jackfruit “pulled pork” sandwich recipe, click here. Also check out these jackfruit “pulled pork” tacos.
When jackfruit is ripe, it tastes like a delicious combination of mango and pineapple. It’s great to eat plain or throw in a smoothie. Unlike cherimoyas, the seeds of the jackfruit can be roasted and eaten. You can even ground the seeds and use it as a healthier flour alternative.
What are some of the benefits of eating jackfruit?
Just about a cup of jackfruit has 2.4 grams of protein, 2.6 grams of fiber and is 190 calories. This may sound like a lot of calories, but they are good, filling calories that will give you lasting energy. A cup of this fruit is packed with essential vitamins and minerals including:
- 40 mg of calcium. Younger adults need about 1,000 mg of calcium a day. Jackfruit is a great way to get more calcium along with eating other calcium rich foods, including kale, broccoli, salmon, yogurt and calcium-fortified orange juice.
- 48 mg of magnesium. Magnesium helps with blood pressure regulation and also has antioxidant properties. Several studies have also shown an improvement in the severity of symptoms of depression when study participants were given 125-300 mg of magnesium with each meal and at bedtime.
- 35 mg of phosphorus. This mineral has been linked to weight management. In a study of almost 40,000 women in Korea, phosphorus deficiency correlated with weight gain from oral contraceptives. Furthermore, a study from Lebanon showed that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores.
- 739 mg of potassium. If you are an athlete or like to be proactive about your health by working out, potassium can help with muscle cramps. When you sweat, you lose electrolytes, including sodium and potassium. The loss of potassium can cause cramping.
- 22.6 mg of vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the immune system, and this vitamin’s antioxidant properties help keep skin and hair appear healthier and more youthful. Vitamin c helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels and skin (which is why it is often referred to as a beauty vitamin).
For full nutritional information about jackfruit, click here.
I hope I’ve opened your eyes to a fruit you are now excited to try. One of the best ways we can be proactive about our health is through eating a healthy diet which includes critical nutrients such as minerals and vitamins. These nutrients are generally what keeps us healthy. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain a healthy diet if you’re eating the same foods and get bored with your daily diet. Try mixing things up and try new recipes. You may find yourself craving jackfruit instead of candy!
To learn more about the critical minerals found in jackfruit read Minerals - The Forgotten Nutrient: Your Secret Weapon for Getting and Staying Healthy.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here.