What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit is a fruit native to India and parts of southeast Asia.
Jackfruit is a fruit native to India and parts of southeast Asia.

Jackfruit is a spikey, green-colored fruit native to India and some parts of Southeast Asia. It contains rich yellow pods that have a fiber-like texture when raw and they become sweeter and softer when ripe. Raw jackfruit is sought by vegans as a meat substitute for its fiber-like texture. For this reason, it is labeled as jackfruit meat. Both the pods and the seeds of jackfruit are edible. Roasted seeds have a nutty flavor and may be used in breads, hummus and other foods.

Although it is an exotic fruit, jackfruit is available in the US mainly in canned form. Canning is a process of cleaning, shelling and deseeding the fruit and packing it in airtight cans and heating them to pasteurize the contents. Canning increases the shelf life of a food item. Both ripe and unripe jackfruit pods may be available in canned forms.

What does jackfruit meat taste like?

Typical jackfruit meat consists of the unripe jackfruit pod. It is tasteless and it has a fibrous texture. You can cook it by boiling it, grilling it or including it in a curry dish. Jackfruit meat takes on the flavor of the spices that it is cooked with. Given its fibrous texture, unripe jackfruit is used in veggie patties, vegan burgers and vegan tortillas as a chicken substitute.

Ripe jackfruit tastes sweet. The overripe fruit has a strong fruity odor and a sweet, almost pungent, taste. The taste of jackfruit is described as the flavor of apples and bananas mixed together.

Jackfruit seeds may be boiled or roasted. Seeds have a milky taste. Roasted seeds taste nutty and can be used in breads or puddings or simply snacked on.

What are the health benefits of eating jackfruit?

A 3.5 ounce portion  of jackfruit contains only 94 calories. It is rich in vitamin C, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6 and folic acid. It is rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium as well. Ripe jackfruit is an excellent source of polyphenols like carotenoids, flavonoids, volatile acids sterols and tannins. Polyphenols are compounds with beneficial effects on blood pressure, blood sugars, aging and blood vessels. Polyphenols offer protection against aging and they help maintain the health of the skin and eyes. They also have anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties.

Table 1. The Composition of a Typical Jackfruit

CompositionYoung fruitRipe fruit
Water (g)76.2 to 85.272.0 to 94.0
Protein (g)2.0 to 2.61.2 to 1.9
Fat (g)0.1 to 0.60.1 to 0.4
Carbohydrate (g)9.4 to 11.516.0 to 25.4
Fiber (g)2.6 to 3.61.0 to1.5
Total sugars (g)     -20.6
Total minerals (g)0.90.87 to 0.9
Calcium (mg)30.0 to 73.220.0 to 37.0
Magnesium (mg)     -27.0
Phosphorus (mg)20.0 to 57.238.0 to 41.0
Potassium (mg)287 to 323191 to 407
Sodium (mg)3.0 to 35.02.0 to 41.0
Iron (mg)0.4 to 1.90.5 to 1.1
Vitamin A (IU)30175 to 540
Thiamine (mg)0.05 to 0.150.03 to 0.09
Riboflavin (mg)0.05 to 0.20.05 to 0.4
Vitamin C (mg)12.0 to 14.07.0 to 10.0
Energy (KJ)50 to 21088 to 410

Can jackfruit consumption cause any harm?

Eating jackfruit in large quantities may cause unwanted fluctuation in blood sugar levels. The glycemic index of jackfruit (ability to raise post-consumption blood sugar levels) is 63, which is moderately high.

A few people have oral allergy syndrome (OAS), a form of food allergy to jackfruit. This is more common in people who have a history of pollen allergy. Patients typically report itching and/or mild swelling of the mouth and throat immediately following ingestion of uncooked, canned, ripe or raw jackfruit.

Given that the fruit has a high amount of potassium, caution is advised in patients with advanced kidney disease.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/3/2020
References
Medscape Medical Reference

International Journal of Food Science