Nutritional and Health Benefits of Jackfruit
Jackfruit is one of the most common local fruits in Malaysia. This tropical fruit, which can also be found in Asia, Africa and some parts of South America, is the largest edible fruit in the world! Jackfruit is loaded with nutrients, including proteins, carbohydrates, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals! My clients often ask me during our personal training sessions here in Kuala Lumpur if they can eat tropical fruit. Of course you can! I haven't seen anyone being unhealthy or unfit because the person consumes too much fruit. Furthermore while people mainly consume the jackfruit's flesh, the seeds can be used for cooking as well! The leaves and barks of the jack tree have hypoglycaemic, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and wound-healing effects, making it extensively used in traditional medicine.
Researchers still argue whether jackfruit originates from Malaysia or from the Southwestern part of India. Regardless to this argument however we can be sure that jackfruit definitely has a long history here in Malaysia. Since it’s a nonseasonal fruit it has been playing an important role in local people’s diet for centuries. Jackfruit is used in curries, salads and many other dishes. Just in Malaysia alone there are more than 30 types of jackfruit. Now let’s check out some of the science facts about why you should eat more of this amazing fruit!
Compared to other tropical fruits, jackfruit has higher amount of protein, calcium, thiamine and iron. Jackfruit contains many amino acids (e.g. leucine, lysine, arginine, etc.), and 1.9 grams of protein per 100g fruit. Although it is rich in Vitamin C, it’s one of those rare fruits that is also rich in B-complex vitamins (B6, niacin, riboflavin and folic acid). For this reason it’s a good option for pregnant and breast feeding mums. When it comes to minerals, you’ll find potassium, calcium and magnesium in jackfruit. Magnesium is important for calcium absorption and strengthening the bones.
What makes jackfruit yellow? A type of phytochemical, called carotenoids! These are a type of pigments that not only responsible for the bright yellow colour, but they also have antioxidant properties. For this reason they are well known for their beneficial effects on many of the chronic diseases, such as cancer or cardiovascular diseases. Other phytonutrients in jackfruit such as lignans, isoflavones and saponin also have anticancer, anti-ulcer and anti-aging properties. These chemicals help to prevent the formation of cancer cells in the body and also fight effectively against stomach ulcers.
The niacin content in jackfruit will contribute for healthy metabolism, nerve function and the synthesis of certain hormones in the body.
The dietary fiber in jackfruit makes this fruit a good ‘bulk laxative’, by helping to form soft and bulky stool, relieving constipation, and promoting the contraction of the intestinal muscles.
As you can see, there are many health benefits of eating jackfruit! We are lucky that we always have fresh jackfruit available around us here in Malaysia. Actually jackfruit is one of my favourite pre workout snacks. Sometimes I bring some for my personal training sessions too. So next time when you're craving for something sweet, instead of grabbing some processed sweet in the shop, head to the nearest fruit stall and grab a bag healthy jack fruit!
R. A. S. N. Ranasinghe, S. D. T. Maduwanthi, R. A. U. J. Marapana, "Nutritional and Health Benefits of Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.): A Review", International Journal of Food Science, vol. 2019, Article ID 4327183, 12 pages, 2019. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/4327183