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The Nutritional Properties of Jackfruit

Karen Alexander, Licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

June 7, 2019

Jackfruit grows in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. It is believed that jackfruit originated in the rain forests of the Western Ghats of India. Jackfruit is known to be the largest edible fruit in the world, which can weight from 6.6 pounds to 79 pounds. A full mature jackfruit can have a length of 36 inches and width that extends to 20 inches. Some jackfruit varieties can reach up to 100 feet in height and there are some dwarf varieties like black gold that restrict up to only 10-20 feet height. Jackfruit varieties that are growth in Florida range from 30 to 40 feet tall.

Jackfruit is an extremely versatile and sweet fruit that can be used raw as a vegetable and ripe as a fruit. There are two types; soft flesh and firm flesh. In the firm variety, the flesh remains firm even at full ripeness, while in the soft variety the flesh becomes soft and fleshy on ripening. Its color depends on its ripening and type of jackfruit and it can goes from yellowish green to yellow. The jackfruit is has a distinctive, sweet and fruity aroma. However, the fruit must be used as early as possible when it reaches maturity as very sharp off flavors can develop.

Jackfruit is a good source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and B9, calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It also contains a wide range of phytonutrients including flavonoids, tannins, saponins and carotenoids (including lutein and zeaxanthin among others) that can act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. Animal studies have found potential benefits of jackfruit for cancer prevention, glucose control, blood pressure, cholesterol and wound healing among other conditions. However, more human studies are needed to corroborate these findings.

Around the world, jackfruit is used in a variety of ways, such as savory curry, sweet dessert, wine, as a flour type meal used mainly for bread and other baking purposes, salads, casseroles, jams and so much more. Although it doesn’t provide enough protein to be considered a protein substitute (jackfruit has only 1.9 g protein per 100g fruit), jackfruit has been introduced recently in the food industry as meat substitute due to its meaty texture.

Fun facts:
• Jackfruit wood is used to make musical instruments, furniture and even in house construction.
• This fruit is also known to grow from underground roots in some rare cases. In such situations, the fruit cracks the ground over it and emerges outside.
• People undergoing therapy for immuno-suppression should avoid eating the seeds of this fruit due to possible immuno-stimulation.
• Over consumption of jackfruit can upset your stomach, due to its high fiber content.

If you haven’t tried jackfruit, summer is an excellent time to be adventurous and try a Jackfruit BBQ sandwich. This week’s recipe comes from the engine2 website.
Jackfruit BBQ sandwich

Makes 2 Servings
1 1/2 cup Jackfruit
2 cups sliced purple cabbage
2 sliced green onions
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsps apple cider vinegar
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 tsp smoked paprika

Rinse the cabbage and cut it into thin shreds with a knife, mandoline, or in a food processor with a shredder attachment. Rinse and thinly slice the green onion.
Place cabbage and green onion in a bowl and add red wine vinegar and black pepper. Toss to coat and let sit for at least 30 minutes.

BBQ sauce:
In a bowl, whisk together apple cider vinegar, tomato paste, maple syrup (optional), smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne (optional), and liquid smoke.
Heat a skillet over medium heat.
Drain and rinse jackfruit and add it to the skillet. Cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until warm. Reduce heat and pour in the BBQ sauce. Add enough water so the sauce thoroughly coats the jackfruit.
Cover with lid and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes. At the end, shred the jackfruit in the skillet or in a bowl.
Toast bun if desired. Pile BBQ jackfruit onto the bun. Top with slaw or serve slaw on the side and enjoy!

Have a great weekend!
Karen Alexander, MS, RDN, LD/N

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