World’s Smelliest Fruit Packs a Lot of Health BenefitsNutrition
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
It is usually cause for concern when security identifies an abandoned bag at the airport. And recently, a bag without an owner was found in the baggage claim area of an airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. It didn’t contain any weapons, bombs or items that could hurt people. What it did contain was a type of fruit that has a strong scent. Because the scent of this fruit is so strong, it is not allowed in some hotels in Thailand, Japan and Hong Kong and is banned on the Singapore Rapid Mass Transit.
The fruit is called durian and has been described as “the world’s smelliest fruit.” Durian looks a lot like jackfruit. One renowned food writer and journalist described the odor as “turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.”
Apparently, a group of scientists who spent some time studying durians, which are native to Southeast Asia, found that this fruit contains 50 discrete compounds that cause this fruit to smell, quite frankly, really bad.
But before you turn your nose up, I encourage you to be intrigued and open-minded about durian, which is also referred to as “The King of Fruits” in Southeast Asia where it is considered to be a delicacy and is one of the most expensive fruits in the region.
“The fruit’s flesh is sometimes eaten raw, or is cooked and used to flavor a number of traditional Southeast Asian dishes and candies. It’s also used in traditional Asian medicine, as both an anti-fever treatment and an aphrodisiac,” according to the Smithsonian.
Although an acquired taste, some lovers of durian describe the taste of durian as “mildly sweet, almondy and very creamy, not unlike a rich cheesecake.”
But for me what’s most intriguing about durian are the potential health benefits.
Although more studies with humans and the effects of durian are needed, “Experimental animal models have shown that durian beneficially reduces blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Durian extract possesses anti-proliferative [suppressing cell growth] and probiotics effects in in vitro models,” according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
Durian may even have fertility-enhancing properties for women who suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), according to one study.
Furthermore, “a test-tube study suggests the antioxidants present in durian extract prevented a strain of breast cancer cells from spreading. Antioxidants are also good for your body in general, providing many benefits,” (Medical Daily).
The rind of the durian fruit is also said to contain anti-yeast and anti-bacterial properties, which may help fight off infections.
Durian is also very nutrient-dense. It is plentiful in the vitamins and minerals we all need to stay healthy and happy. To give you an idea, check out some of the nutrients in just one cup of durian:
- Magnesium, 73mg. This mineral helps regulate blood pressure, contributes to bone metabolism and has antioxidant functions. Magnesium is also great for pain management. Many people use magnesium as a safe alternative to ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Magnesium may even help alleviate leg cramps women may experience during pregnancy.
- Phosphorus, 95mg. This mineral often does not get the credit it deserves, but it does so much for your body. Phosphorus is almost as abundant in your body as calcium and helps calcium build strong bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also important for how your body stores and uses energy, repairs cells and is needed to make proteins like the one responsible for the oxygen-carrying capabilities of our red blood cells. This mineral has also 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 suggested that phosphorus supplements in a small group (63 people) for 12 weeks significantly decreased body weight, BMI, waist circumference and subjective appetite scores.
- Potassium, 1059mg. Potassium may help lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt. According to Harvard Health, “[w]hen it comes to fighting high blood pressure, the average American diet delivers too much sodium and too little potassium. Eating to reverse this imbalance could prevent or control high blood pressure and translate into fewer heart attacks, strokes, and deaths from heart disease.”
- Vitamin C, 47.9mg. This vitamin can help you build and maintain collagen. You lose collagen as you age, which weakens the elasticity of the skin. With its antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps protect the skin against free radicals we are all exposed to in the environment. This vitamin also promotes strong, healthy hair and nails. And as you probably know, vitamin C is great at boosting your immune system and fighting off colds.
- Folate, 87mcg. Most adults need about 400 mcg of folate daily. If you are pregnant, you may need more. Folate is essential for cell growth and many other bodily functions. To see how much folate you need, click here.
- Vitamin A, 107 IU. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “[w]e need vitamin A for good vision and eye health, for a strong immune system, and for healthy skin and mucous membranes.” Vitamin A may also reduce the development of cataracts and may reduce macular degeneration, the leading cause of vision loss.
Precautions with Durian?
- It is not advised to consume durian with alcoholic beverages, as this may cause bloating and an upset stomach.
- The durian seed is poisonous when raw. You must cook the seed if you are going to consume it.
- As always, seek the advice of a competent healthcare professional about introducing new foods into your diet, especially if you have any existing health issues, are taking any medications or supplements and are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Have you tried durian fruit? Please let us know.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.