Durian Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Durian fruit annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Durian is a substantial fruit referred to as the "king of fruits" because of its size and odor. Popular in Southeast Asia, durian is described as sweet-tasting with an intensely pungent smell. A combination of naturally occurring chemicals are responsible for durian's characteristic scent.

After a whiff of durian, you might be wondering why anyone would want to eat it. In some parts of Asia, the fruit is even banned on public transportation, in some hotels, and other buildings due to its odor. Durian's impressive nutritional profile and distinctive taste make it an exciting choice for food-lovers around the world.

Durian Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (243g) of chopped fresh or frozen durian fruit.

  • Calories: 357
  • Fat: 13g
  • Sodium: 4.9mg
  • Carbohydrates: 66g
  • Fiber: 9.2g
  • Protein: 3.6g

Carbs

There are 357 calories in a 1-cup serving of durian fruit (about half of a whole fruit). Durian's strong taste means you don't need much to experience its flavor.

Most of the calories in a durian come from carbohydrates. There are 66 carbs in a 1-cup serving. With over 9 grams per serving, durian has a glycemic index of 49 which is lower than other tropical fruits like watermelon, papaya, and pineapple.

Fats

When it comes to fresh fruit, durian is high in fat. There 13 grams of fat in a 1-cup serving. The fats in durian contribute to its calorie count and improve the body's ability to absorb its fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamin A.

Protein

Durian fruit provides a small amount of protein. One serving has about 3.6 grams. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Durian is an excellent source of vitamin C and several B-vitamins including vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, folate, and niacin.

The minerals in durian include iron, magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, and small amounts of phosphorus, zinc, and calcium.

Health Benefits

Limited human studies have been conducted on durian's health benefits. Based on animal studies and its nutrient content, however, durian shows promise for human health.

Improves Heart Health

Durian is very high in potassium, even when compared to other fruits. Potassium is well-known for its ability to lower blood pressure which is a major contributor to cardiovascular disease. Durian is also high in fiber and unsaturated fats, two key nutrients for heart health. Studies on rats fed durian had reduced total cholesterol levels, LDL, and triglycerides when compared with a control group.

Supports Healthy Pregnancy

Durian has been studied for its concentration of the essential B-vitamin, folate. Although folate deficiency in the United States is somewhat mitigated by the fortification of grain products, in other parts of the world, folate deficiency presents major risks during early pregnancy. Folate is necessary for proper fetal development of the neural tube. In Southeast Asia where durian is commonly consumed, this fruit serves as a crucial source of folate with significant implications for women of childbearing age.

Prevents Joint Pain

Durian is very high in vitamin C, especially when eaten raw. A cup of fresh or frozen durian has 48 grams of vitamin C, and the average adult requires 75–90 grams per day. Symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency include joint pain, as vitamin C is a precursor to the synthesis of collagen. Getting enough vitamin C through food is a safe way to help prevent joint pain.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

Durian is rich in natural sugars that ferment after being exposed to gut bacteria during digestion. Durian acts as a prebiotic, feeding beneficial lactic acid bacteria in the gut microbiome, supporting digestive functions and colon health. Furthermore, the fiber in durian adds bulk to the stool and promotes regularity.

Prevents Deficiencies in Older Adults

For older adults, malnutrition is a common concern. Seniors are at higher risk for weight loss and nutrient deficiencies due to several factors, including malabsorption, reduced appetite, and limited access to a variety of foods. Durian is rich in both macro and micronutrients. It's an energy-dense food that provides key vitamins, like thiamin (which is possibly associated with Alzheimer's), in abundance. By offering a range of nutrients in one food, durian helps pad nutritional intake for limited eaters.

Allergies

Although rare, cases of durian allergy have been documented and linked with contact dermatitis. If you suspect an allergy to durian, contact your physician for a full evaluation.

Adverse Effects

The high potassium content of durian can be dangerous for individuals with end-stage renal disease. Although potassium is seen as a benefit for the majority of the population, people with kidney disease must be cautious with durian.

Varieties

There are 12 varieties of edible plants under the genus Durio. Six varieties are commonly consumed in local areas where they're grown and only one is grown commercially (Durio zibethinus). Within this variety, there are still over 500 regional subgroups that vary greatly in aroma, color, shape, and size depending on the market where it is grown and sold.

Durian-flavored food products are popular in Asia and may include chips, candies, paste, jams, and dips. Durian can also be canned or dried.

When It's Best

You're not likely to find durian at your local supermarket, but some Asian markets sell them throughout the year. Durian grows best in warm, humid climates.

When selecting a durian, look for a bright color and no (or few) blemishes on the spikes. The stem should be moist and light-colored. If you shake the fruit and hear something rattling on the inside, the fruit may have dried out and is no longer fresh.

Storage and Food Safety

The rate at which fresh durian spoils depends on whether it fell naturally from the tree or was picked. Durians that fall naturally are riper and should be kept at 59 degrees Fahrenheit to slow down the rate of degradation.

Durians cut prematurely from the tree may be stored for 10–15 days before starting to go bad. Covering the stems to avoid moisture loss, using rubber bands to keep the shell from cracking, and storing in cool, dark, and humid conditions can all help to prolong the storage life of fresh durian.

Before slicing into a fresh durian, wash your hands, and be sure to wash the outside of the fruit well under running water. You may need to wear gloves while handling durian since it is so spiky. Cut durian should always be stored in the refrigerator and discarded after a few days or once it shows signs of spoilage.

How to Prepare

Durian can be consumed cooked or raw. It provides a distinctive taste to any dish and is often used in Asian cuisine to flavor ice cream, cakes, and other baked goods.

Durian's outer shell must be removed before eating. Place durian stem side down on a sturdy counter. Then, slice into the spiny skin about 3–4 inches deep. Use your hands to pull the skin apart and reveal the fruit. Durian is divided into pods. Each has a pit or a stone that should be removed prior to eating.

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Article Sources
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