Did you know that jackfruit is the largest fruit in the world? It can get up to 120 pounds. But it’s not the fruit’s size that makes it so beneficial — it’s the nutrition. Jackfruit is high in magnesium, vitamin B6 and antioxidants — all while offering a low-carb snack or even the perfect vegan “pulled-pork” sandwich.
It can be found dried and roasted, and it can be added to soups, used in chips, jams, juices and even ice cream, in addition to simply eating fresh and raw. The seeds, containing a ton of nutritional benefits, can be boiled, roasted or ground into flour.
All this nutrition gives jackfruit some truly remarkable benefits. For instance, jackfruit benefits include the ability to enhance immunity, boost magnesium levels, improve digestion and more.
What Is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit grows on the branches and trunks of the jackfruit tree, and the average weight of the fruit itself is 10 to 25 pounds. Though some compare it to durian fruit in appearance, it has more of a musky smell versus the unpleasant aroma that durian provides. Belonging to the mulberry family and thought to have originated in India, it is exceptional when it comes to nutrition.
Common names for jackfruit are jakfruit, jaca and nangka. It’s related to the breadfruit, breadnut, champedak, lakoocha and marang. It’s been noted to have a distant association to figs and mulberries. Jackfruit grows best in tropical climates and is believed to have originated in the rain forest of Western Ghats of India. It made its way to other parts of India, southeast Asia, the East Indies and the Philippines. It’s often planted in central and eastern Africa and is fairly popular in Brazil and Surinam.
Studies indicate that the fruit, bark, leaves, and roots have therapeutic attributes and are used in the many traditional medicinal systems for the management of various ailments. Fruit and seeds are often used to make various food items, including sauce, ice creams, jams, jellies and marmalades.
The jackfruit grows wild in India, but it’s not until now that it’s even getting a moment on the stage and becoming quite the hot topic. Why? It has long been thought of as the poor man’s fruit in that country, though Bangladesh values this fruit as it’s second only to the mango. One of these fruits could feed an entire family for dinner, but tons of it goes to waste since it’s not harvested in time to put it to good use, rotting instead.
But the nutritional benefits are really starting to get noticed, especially in the vegetarian and vegan communities.
One cup of raw, sliced jackfruit contains about:
- Calories: 157
- Total Carbohydrates: 38.3 g
- Fiber: 2.5 g
- Sugar: 31.5 g
- Total Fat: 0.6 g
- Saturated Fat: 0.3 g
- Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g
- Monounsaturated Fat: 0.3 g
- Trans Fat: 0 g
- Protein: 2.8 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
- Vitamin B6: 0.5 mg (29% DV*)
- Vitamin C: 22.6 mg (25% DV*)
- Thiamin (Vitamin B1): 0.2 mg (17% DV*)
- Potassium: 739 mg (16% DV*)
- Magnesium: 47.8 mg (11% DV*)
- Niacin (Vitamin B3): 1.5 mg (9% DV*)
*Daily Value: Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.
1. Enhances Immunity and May Help Fight Cancer
Jackfruit is a vitamin C food that contains many other antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, including lignans, isoflavones and saponins. Additionally, we need to fight those damaging free radicals that enter the body daily. Antioxidants found in jackfruit and other foods boost immune function by kicking those free radicals to the curb.
2. Boosts Magnesium Levels
Magnesium is crucial for the structure of our bones. Women are especially at risk for magnesium deficiency, and it’s common for African-Americans and the elderly to suffer from low magnesium levels too.
One cup of jackfruit contains 11 percent of the daily recommended value of magnesium, making it a great choice to add to your diet, especially since magnesium can help reduce the risk of many diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, in addition to helping provide strong bones.
3. Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
This robust fruit contains a healthy dose of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 falls into a category along with folic acid and vitamin B12 that may help reduce heart disease. This occurs due to lower levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid and important building block of protein.
A clinical trial known as the the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 2 including more than 5,500 adults with known cardiovascular disease learned that supplementation of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid for a period of five years reduced homocysteine levels, which decreased both heart disease risk and stroke risk by about 25 percent.
4. Help Diabetics
A 2023 clinical study showed that jackfruit leaves possess antidiabetic action for healthy and insulin-independent diabetic individuals. More research will be conducted.
5. Improves Digestion
Jackfruit may be a great choice for anyone suffering from constipation or issues with digestion, and it’s the seeds that come in handy. The seeds contain a good portion of dietary fiber, and high-fiber foods not only help with constipation, but they help fill you up, which may contribute to weight loss.
How to Prepare
This amazing fruit can be found fresh or canned. Of course, if choosing canned jackfruit, make sure there aren’t any added sugars or preservatives. Instead look for young jackfruit found in water and brine.
When buying fresh, make sure to get a ripe jackfruit. To do this, look for yellowish skin with spikes that have softened. Just apply gentle pressure to make sure it gives a little. Another sign that it’s ready to eat is its musky fragrance, which should be rather distinctive. You can also buy one that’s green and firm and allow it to sit in a window or on your counter until it has reached the recommended ripeness.
This fruit can pretty much take on whatever flavor you want it to have. Want a curried chutney? Add some curry to chopped-up jackfruit, toss in a few raisins and you have a delicious curried chutney packed with nutrition. Some versions, such as the green jackfruit, are stringy, making them perfect to add to pulled chicken for a delicious pulled chicken sandwich. In fact, many vegans use jackfruit as a meat substitute since it contains a “pulled pork-like” consistency.
Ripe jackfruit contains a flavor similar to banana and the look of mango but is rather mild. Fresh jackfruit is definitely worth trying by itself, but if that doesn’t do much for you, try adding it to your favorite dishes, pies, jellies, sauces and ice cream.
Potential Side Effects
If you’re pregnant or breast-feeding, take caution since jackfruit is somewhat new to the U.S. market and needs to be further investigated. If you have an allergy to birch pollen, you may experience an allergic reaction to jackfruit. Take caution.
Though it may help reduce levels of blood sugar, diabetics should be cautious. You may experience drowsiness if using certain medications while consuming it. It may be best to stop consuming any form of this fruit prior to surgery.
- Jackfruit is definitely a powerful superfruit that’s worth exploring. The nutritional benefits makes it a great addition to your recipes, and if you’re vegetarian or vegan, this fruit may provide many benefits as a supplement to your diet.
- It’s been shown to enhance immunity, boost magnesium levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and improve digestion.
- Learn to use it as a meat substitute for many recipes, including a “pulled jackfruit sandwich.”