Jackfruit: Slice your way into higher immunity, better digestion, & more…


What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit’s scientific name is Artocarpus heterophyllus.  The word jackfruit is originated from the Portuguese word “jaca.”  It is considered to be the world’s biggest tree fruit. It has high concentrations of nutrients.  There are reports of jackfruit growing up to 100 pounds. The ripe jackfruit is sweet to taste. It is also used in many culinary dishes such as ice creams, salads, jams, soups, etc.  Jackfruit is being cultivated in India since 6000 years ago. Jackfruit is the national fruit of Bangladesh.

Due to the high concentration of nutrients, jackfruit is known to provide several health benefits namely improving the immunity, fight cancer, promote heart health, aid in digestion, reduce the occurrence of osteoporosis, etc. It has numerous nutrients namely carbohydrates, proteins, fat, fiber, vitamin C, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, vitamin, iron, phosphorous, as well as zinc.  Vegetarians are quite fond of jackfruit since it is considered to be the alternative to meat, with a high concentration of essential nutrients.

Jackfruit is generally cultivated in tropical regions.  The seed of the jackfruit has numerous nutrients and is also used to prepare several culinary dishes.  Jackfruit seeds are dried and powdered to be used as flour.

What are the proven health benefits of consuming jackfruit?

Improves immunity

The immune system is the defense system of the body against harmful foreign bodies.  Jackfruit contains high concentrations of antioxidants as well as vitamin C. Both these play an important role in promoting immunity and activating it.  Active and enhanced immunity is effective in fighting off these harmful foreign bodies more effectively and improving the overall health.

Promotes a healthy heart

Abnormal levels of potassium may cause medical conditions such as hyperkalemia (high potassium levels) and hypokalemia (low potassium levels).  Due to these medical conditions, there are changes in the electrolytes leading to stress on the heart and may cause various heart-related problems.  Jackfruit is known to have a high concentration of potassium that is helpful in regulating the electrolytes and promoting a better environment for a healthy heart.

Promotes digestion

Digesting the food appropriately which we intake is necessary for all the nutrients to be absorbed.  Inadequate digestion may cause malnutrition, which causes weakness and fatigue. Jackfruit is a rich source of fibers and is known to contain both soluble and insoluble type of fibers.  Soluble fibers are absorbed in the intestine and provide the essential nutrients and energy required for normal functioning of the body. The insoluble fibers reach the colon and are used as the food source of the probiotics, which feed on them and become enhanced and work efficiently in the process of digestion.  All of these factors are responsible for promoting adequate digestion.

Regulates blood sugar

Foods having high glycemic index are known to cause an increase in the blood sugar levels.  Jackfruit is helpful in regulating blood sugar levels since it has a low glycemic index and also provides high quantities of fiber and a moderate amount of protein.  Since there is a high concentration of fiber, the digestion process is delayed and protein additionally restricts blood sugar surge. Both of these factors contribute to controlling blood sugar levels and are helpful in regulating them.

Treats and prevents cancer

Increase in the number of free radicals is considered to be the biggest risk factor for cancer.  This causes oxidative stress where the body is not able to counteract against the harmful effect of these free radicals.  Powerful antioxidants are required to fight against the harmful effects of free radicals. Jackfruit has a high concentration of antioxidants as well as flavonoids and phytonutrients.  Due to the presence of these substances, there is a reduction in the number of free radicals, which in turn reduces oxidative stress.  This enables the reduction of cancer-producing cells and promotes an increase in healthy immune cells.

Prevents osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a medical condition where the bones tend to gradually lose their density and become soft and brittle.  Due to this condition, the person affected by osteoporosis can experience pain, stiffness, as well as may break a bone even with simple activities.  Abnormal calcium absorption is considered to be one of the risk factors causing this problem. Calcium which is the important substance necessary for the structure and density of the bones is available in jackfruit.  Consuming jackfruit in appropriate quantities would help to promote calcium availability in the body as well as promote healthy bones.

Controls asthma

The main function of the bronchial tube is to supply air to and from the lungs.  Due to several factors, the bronchial tube becomes swollen as well as gets accumulated with mucus causing an obstruction in the bronchial tube.  Due to the obstruction in the bronchial tube, there is a reduction in the air flow to and from the lungs leading to the medical condition called asthma.  This may cause a person to experience difficulty in breathing associated with a cough and in some cases may also experience anxiety as well as chest pain.  

There are numerous types of asthma namely allergic asthma, adult-onset asthma, exercise-induced asthma, etc. As we have already discussed that jackfruit is helpful in reducing the number of free radicals from the body, this property of jackfruit is helpful in reducing the process of inflammation in the bronchial tubes as well as help in eliminating harmful pollution related toxins from the body.  This is helpful in reducing the occurrence of asthma symptoms.

Are there any side-effects of jackfruit consumption?

There are several health benefits related to jackfruit, but there are also some side effects associated with jackfruit, which are discussed below.

Causes allergic reaction:  Jackfruit generally does not cause allergic reactions, but people who are allergic to pollens and particularly birch pollen are cautioned to avoid jackfruit.  People who are allergic may experience anaphylaxis.

Increases coagulation:  Coagulation is a process where the blood thickens.  Coagulation is important when there is a bruise or cut and the blood oozes out from the body.  Due to the coagulation process, the blood that oozes out from the wound thickens and helps in the reduction of blood loss.  Studies have indicated that consumption of jackfruit may increase coagulation and hence people need to be cautious when consuming jackfruit.

May alter glucose levels:  Many people are prescribed with medications in order to lower blood glucose levels.  Studies have indicated that jackfruit has the ability to regulate blood sugar levels and hence caution is advised when people consume jackfruit when they are on regular blood glucose lowering medication.  The jackfruit might lower the blood sugar levels much lower and lead to a medical condition called hypoglycemia. During this, blood sugar levels become low and cause some serious health issues.

May reduce libido in men:  Libido in men is generally managed by the hormone testosterone.  When there is an abnormal production of testosterone, the levels may reduce and cause a certain type of sexual dysfunction.  Studies have indicated that jackfruit has the ability to alter the hormones and may cause a reduction in the production of testosterone hormone and this, in turn, reduces the libido in men.  It is important to consume jackfruit in moderation and not consume it in large quantities.

How can jackfruit be consumed?

Jackfruit is consumed in many forms.  Ripe jackfruits are sweet to taste and is consumed naturally.  Raw jackfruit which is still tender is used in the cooking process and is used to make several culinary dishes namely jackfruit BBQ, jackfruit tacos, jackfruit curry, jackfruit cakes, etc.  We find canned jackfruit in the market and this is generally the raw form, which is used for cooking.

Unlike meat, jackfruit provides a minimal amount of proteins and hence is suitable for many diet plans.  There are several other varieties of jackfruit dishes such as jackfruit noodles, jackfruit chips jackfruit powder, etc.

Jackfruit – The final takeaway

Jackfruit is known to produce abundant yields and hence was widely used in South East Asia.  It is also called a poor man’s meat as it provides various nutrients and is easily available.  In earlier days, people used this fruit in various forms of cooking. High concentration of nutrients present in the fruit promotes several health benefits namely improving the immunity, fighting cancer, promoting heart health, promoting digestion, as well as reduce the occurrence of osteoporosis.  

There are also some downfalls with regard to Jackfruit. It may cause an allergic reaction, increase coagulation, alter glucose levels, as well as reduce libido in men. In modern days, the fruit is used to produce squash with the addition of sugar and citric acid. The unused part of the fruit is also used to make RTS (ready to serve) beverages.  The raw and tender form of jackfruit is used to prepare various culinary dishes. They are used as an alternative for meat in several curries. The bottom line is that jackfruit is a miracle fruit when used appropriately.

 

 

 

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