This Jack of all fruits is the largest of tree-borne fruits. Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is the enormous fruit of the jackfruit tree that belongs to the mulberry family. It is similar to the durian but bigger in size with a sweet and delectable taste. Covered with cone like spikes, the skin of the jackfruit is green in color, which gradually turns yellow when ripe. On cutting the fruit open, you can see numerous yellow bulbs (white in unripe fruits) arranged neatly. This is the flesh of the fruit that encloses the seed of jackfruit. The ripe fruit has a wonderful aroma and can be eaten as such or can be used in making delicious desserts. The unripe fruits can also be used in making savory dishes. Jackfruit is an excellent substitute for meat. Often its bulbs are called “veg meat”
Jackfruit is a tropical fruit that is thought to have its origins in the southwestern regions of India. The exact origin of jackfruit is believed to be the rainforests of the Western Ghats of India; origin dates back to 5000 years ago. It is believed that colonists European took the plants to other parts of Southeast Asia, Brazil and other tropical America. It is national fruit of Indonesia and Bangladesh. The jackfruit is also known by jak-fruit, jak/ jaca. It is called nangka (Malaysia, Philippines), khanun (Thailand), khnor (Cambodia), mak mi or may mi (Laos) mit (Vietnam), Kathal (Hindi), Chakka (Malyalam), Phanas (Marathi), Pala-pazham (Tamil), Kanthal (Bengali), Palaamaram (Sri Lanka),
Almost all parts of Jackfruit tree have some use. Rind of Jackfruit is mechanically processed for extraction of pectin for use in syrups and jellies. Jackfruit seeds are nutritious and packed with vitamins and minerals. Just like groundnut these seeds are roasted or salted and eaten raw. Leaves of jackfruit are used as wraps in steam cooking. Flowers are used in salads. Latex is used as substitute of rubber. The sawdust of jackwood or chips of the heartwood bears a rich yellow dye which is used by Buddhist monks for dyeing. Jackfruit wood is good source of timber. Jackwood is termite proof and used for furniture. It has nearly the strength of teak wood. Musical instruments like veena, mridang, kutiyapi and gamelan are often made from jackfruit wood.
Nutritional value of Jackfruit
The sweet and delicious jackfruit is packed with a wide array of nutrients. It contains simple sugars that are easily digestible and provide you with sufficient energy. A 100 gram serving of this fruit can provide you with 94 calories. It has no sodium, no cholesterol, and has high amounts of fiber and water. It is also a good source of proteins and carbohydrates. Jackfruit is high in various vitamins including vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6 and folate. It also contains a wide range of minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium. Jackfruit is also a great source of phytonutrients and flavonoids like beta- carotene, xanthin, lutein, etc that give this fruit powerful antioxidant properties. The tree offers wide range of phytonutrients which have various potential health benefits including tannins, flavonoids and anthocyanins. Seeds contain useful lectins – jacalin and artocarpin.
Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Although most people love to eat jackfruit for its scrumptious taste, only a few are aware of the benefits it provides to your body. In spite of the fact that it is high in carbohydrates and calories, the health benefits of jackfruit are numerous that you can overlook the number of carbs and calories. Given below are some of the health promoting features of this exotic tropical fruit.
Jackfruit boosts your energy
Jackfruit contains good amount simple sugars like fructose and sucrose. The advantage of these sugars is that they are easily digested, resulting in an immediate boost in energy. Although it is an energy rich food, it is very healthy as it does not contain cholesterol or unhealthy saturated fats. Since the sugar is digested and converted into energy pretty quickly, you don’t have to worry about the sugars getting stored in your fat cells and making you gain weight.
Jackfruit improves your immune system
Jackfruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants. These nutrients play a key role in strengthening your immune system and keeping you protected against many diseases. Regular consumption of jackfruit can improve the functions of your white blood cells and keep your immune system strong and functioning at its best.
Jackfruit promotes digestive health
Jackfruit is high in fiber content, which makes this fruit excellent choice in promoting healthy digestion. The fiber adds bulk to your stools and ensures smooth and regular bowel movements. Fiber also helps in protecting the mucous membrane of your colon by removing the toxic chemicals from your body. Jackfruit is found have anti-ulcer properties, which is helpful in preventing digestive ulcers. Ripe fruit works as laxative and has been traditionally used.
Jackfruit has anti-cancer properties
Jackfruit is rich in flavonoids, and phytonutrients, which are potent antioxidants that fight free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidative damage to your cells and DNA. This damage caused to the cells is capable of converting a healthy cell into a cancerous cell. Antioxidants are powerful enough to neutralize the effects of these free radicals and thus protect your body against the different types of cancers.
Jackfruit lowers cholesterol
Jackfruit does not contain cholesterol and is found to be effective in lowering cholesterol. The nutrients found in this fruit offer anti-cholesterol and cardiovascular benefits. Free radicals and oxidation of cells can lead to the accumulation of plaque in your arteries. Jackfruit is a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants that can fight off these free radicals. Copper is another essential nutrient or mineral found in this fruit. Studies reveal that the deficiency of copper may lead to the presence of excess cholesterol in your bloodstream, resulting in the blockage of your arteries with cholesterol. Jackfruit also contains a fair amount of soluble fiber that has been found to be helpful in lowering the levels of bad or LDL cholesterol in the blood without lowering the levels of good or HDL cholesterol.
Jackfruit reduces high blood pressure
Research indicates that a diet rich in potassium can help in lowering high blood pressure. Potassium balances the sodium levels and reverses its effects on your blood pressure. Jackfruit is high in potassium content and is hence helpful for people suffering from hypertension or high blood pressure.
Jackfruit is heart healthy
The anti-cholesterol and anti-hypertensive effects of jackfruit make it highly effective in protecting your heart from heart attacks and heart diseases.
Jackfruit for weight loss
Jackfruit is an excellent fruit to be included in a weight loss diet. The sugars in this fruit are simple sugars that are easily digested and converted to energy very fast. As a result, it does not get stored in the fat cells. The fiber and water content in jackfruit helps you feel fuller for a longer period, due to which you are most unlikely to overeat or indulge in frequent snacking. Jackfruit satiates your appetite and curbs your hunger pangs, thus helping you maintain a healthy weight.
Jackfruit strengthens your bones
Jackfruit is a rich source of minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium that essential for the healthy growth of your bones. These nutrients help in strengthening your bones and helps in preventing conditions like osteoporosis.
Jackfruit improves eye health
Jackfruit contains vitamin A, which is an important nutrient that contributes to the health of your eyes. It has also been found to prevent eye-related problems such as night blindness and macular degeneration.
Jackfruit root for controlling asthma
The root of the jackfruit tree has been found to be helpful for people suffering from asthma. The extract obtained by boiling the root is high in nutritional content and is a great remedy for controlling asthma.
Jackfruit for thyroid functioning
Jackfruit has been found to be effective in promoting the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. The high amounts of copper in this fruit helps in improving thyroid metabolism, and the production and absorption of thyroid hormones.
Jackfruit prevents anemia
Deficiency of iron in your body can lead to anemia, causing weakness, dizziness, headache and shortness of breath. Jackfruit is a good source of iron, which helps in improving blood circulation and also in preventing anemia.
Jackfruit for healthy skin
Jackfruit is a rich source of vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants that prevent early aging signs. The oxidation of cells caused by the free radicals is mainly responsible for early aging and the development of wrinkles and fine lines. The antioxidants in jackfruit helps in fighting and neutralizing the effects of these free radicals and hence prevent the signs of aging. The vitamin C is helpful in repairing damaged cells and in healing any injuries or wounds. This is helpful in keeping your skin smooth and glowing. The juice of jackfruit, when applied on the skin is can help in relieving dry skin. Massaging the pulp of jackfruit on the skin can get rid of skin pigmentation.
Jackfruit seeds and hair health
The seeds of jackfruit have been found to increase blood circulation, which helps in promoting the healthy growth of hair. They also contain good amounts of vitamin A, one of the most important vitamins essential for maintaining the proper growth and health of your hair.
Side effects of jackfruit
In spite of the various health benefits it provides, jackfruit is also likely to cause certain side effects. People having birch pollen allergies should be careful when consuming jackfruit, as it may cause allergic reactions. Jackfruit seeds have been known to have immunostimulative effects. Hence patients who have had tissue transplants or are undergoing immunosuppression therapy should be extremely cautious when eating these seeds. Jackfruit is likely to cause glucose tolerance, and so diabetic patients should consult with their doctors before having the fruit. People with blood disorders should avoid jackfruit as it may increase blood coagulation. Since the seeds of this fruit are likely to increase the risk of bleeding, people on medications like aspirin and blood thinners should be highly cautious. However, there is not much scientific evidence regarding this fact. Jackfruit is also known to inhibit sexual performance and libido and so it is better for people trying to get pregnant to avoid this fruit.
Many people, especially those on a weight loss diet think that they need to avoid jackfruit because of the high calories and carbohydrates. However, considering the nutritional and health benefits that this exotic fruit offers, it can never be your enemy.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Chandana, Flickr - Alex Popovkin, Wikimedia - Xufanc