Durian Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Durian fruit annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Popular in Southeast Asia, durian is often called the "king of fruits" due to its overwhelmingly sweet taste and intensely pungent smell. Though higher in fat and calories than many other fruits, durian offers a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, making it a nutritional choice for food lovers around the world.

In some parts of Asia, durian is banned on public transportation, in hotels, and in other buildings due to its strong odor. However, not every species of durian has an unpleasant smell.

Durian Nutrition Facts

One cup of chopped fresh or frozen durian (243g) provides 357 calories, 3.6g of protein, 66g of carbohydrates, and 13g of fat. Durian is a great source of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin C, and folate. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 357
  • Fat: 13g
  • Sodium: 4.9mg
  • Carbohydrates: 66g
  • Fiber: 9.2g
  • Protein: 3.6g
  • Potassium: 1060mg
  • Phosphorus: 94.8mg
  • Magnesium: 72.9mg
  • Vitamin C: 47.9mg
  • Folate: 87.5mcg

Carbs

Most of the calories in durian come from carbohydrates, providing just under 66 grams per cup. Like many other fruits, a good portion of these carbs is in the form of fiber (9.2 grams per serving).

While the USDA doesn't supply sugar content for this fruit, research suggests that 100 grams of fresh durian contain between 3.1 grams and 19.97 grams of sugar, depending on the variety. Its glycemic index rating of 49 makes it lower than tropical fruits such as watermelon, papaya, and pineapple.

Fats

When compared to other fresh fruit, durian is high in fat at 13 grams per one-cup serving. But remember that consuming healthy fats can help improve the body's ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Protein

One serving of durian contains roughly 3.6 grams of protein. This is similar to the protein content in some other tropical fruits, such as jackfruit (2.6 grams of protein in a cup of one-inch pieces) and guava (4.2 grams of protein per one-cup serving).

Vitamins and Minerals

Durian is an excellent source of potassium at 1060mg per cup. This is almost half of the daily recommended intake for adult women and just under one-third of the recommended daily intake for adult men.

This fruit also contains a good amount of phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin C, and folate. You'll even find trace amounts of other nutrients, including zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin A, and a number of B vitamins.

Calories

There are 357 calories in a one-cup serving of durian (about half of a whole fruit). If you're trying to cut your calorie intake, durian's strong taste works to your advantage since you don't need much to experience its flavor.

Summary

Durian is higher in calories and fat than many other fruits, but it is also rich in nutrients. It contains a fair amount of fiber and protein without elevating blood sugar like some other naturally sweet fruits do.

Health Benefits

Adding durian to your diet may provide a few health benefits, in spite of its higher fat and calorie count.

Improves Heart Health

Durian is very high in potassium. 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 greater heart health.

Supports a 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 central nervous system. In Southeast Asia, where durian is commonly consumed, this fruit can serve as a crucial source of folate for people of childbearing age.

Eases Pain

Durian is very high in vitamin C, especially when eaten raw. A cup of fresh or frozen durian has almost 48mg of this nutrient, and the average adult requires just 75mg to 90mg per day.

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to joint pain and adequate intake has been connected with a reduced risk of cancer-related pain. This means that getting enough vitamin C may be a safe way to help prevent various pain conditions.

Promotes Healthy Digestion

Durian is rich in natural sugars that ferment after being exposed to gut bacteria during digestion. It also 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 Nutrient Deficiencies in Older Adults

Malnutrition is a concern for many older adults. This population is 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 an energy-dense food that provides a variety of key vitamins—like thiamin, which is possibly associated with Alzheimer's—in abundance. By offering a range of nutrients in one food, durian helps boost nutritional intake for people whose diet is limited.

Allergies

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

Adverse Effects

Although potassium is beneficial for the majority of the population, people with kidney disease benefit from being cautious with durian. Its high potassium content can be dangerous for individuals with end-stage renal disease.

Varieties

There are 12 varieties of edible plants under the genus Durio. Six varieties are commonly consumed in local areas where they're grown; only one variety is grown commercially (Durio zibethinus).

Within the commercially grown variety, there are still over 500 regional subgroups of durian. And they can vary greatly in terms of aroma, color, shape, and size.

When It's Best

You're not likely to find durian when shopping at your local supermarket in the U.S., since durian grows best in warm, humid climates. However, some Asian markets sell this fruit throughout the year.

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, it may have dried out and no longer be fresh.

Storage and Food Safety

The rate at which fresh durian spoils depends on whether it fell naturally from the tree or was picked.

  • Durian that falls naturally is riper and has a much shorter shelf life, ranging from two to five days. It should be kept at 59 degrees Fahrenheit to slow the rate of degradation.
  • Durian cut prematurely from the tree may be stored for 10 to 15 days before starting to go bad.

Cover the stems to avoid moisture loss, use rubber bands to keep the shell from cracking, and store it in a cool, dark, and humid place to help to prolong the storage life of fresh durian. 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-flavored food products are popular in Asia and include chips, candies, pastes, jams, and dips. Durian can be canned or dried, or it can be consumed cooked or raw. It adds 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. Wash the outside of the fruit and place it stem side down. Next, slice into the spiny skin about 3 to 4 inches deep. You may need to wear gloves while handling durian because of the spikes.

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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19 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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