Jackfruit Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

two jackfruit on a wicker platter

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Cooked jackfruit has a similar appearance and texture to pulled meat. For this reason, jackfruit has gained popularity in Western culture as a base for vegetarian meals like tacos, barbecue sandwiches, and chili. You may be wondering if jackfruit is really a healthy meat-replacement.

While jackfruit doesn't offer the same proteins you can find in meat, it has several health benefits of note. Adding jackfruit to your meal plan can help you reach the daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables, while gaining multiple vitamins and minerals.

Jackfruit Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (165g) of sliced, raw jackfruit.

  • Calories: 157
  • Fat: 1g
  • Sodium: 3.3mg
  • Carbohydrates: 38g
  • Fiber: 2.5g
  • Sugars: 32g
  • Protein: 2.8g

Carbs

Because it is a fruit, it’s not surprising that most of jackfruit’s calories come from carbohydrates. A 1-cup serving contains 38 grams of carbs, of which 2.5 grams come from dietary fiber and 32 grams come from sugar. Jackfruit has a glycemic index of 75 and a medium glycemic load.

Fortunately, because jackfruit is a whole, unprocessed food, you can rest assured that these sugars are naturally occurring in the raw fruit. You may want to pay attention to added sugar content in canned or frozen options, however.

Fats

Jackfruit is extremely low in fat, with only about 1 gram per cup. Due to its low fat content and the absence of trans fat, jackfruit is considered a heart-healthy food.

Protein

Despite its reputation as a replacement for pork or chicken in many main dishes, jackfruit can’t compete with these animal products in terms of protein. One cup of raw jackfruit has less than 3 grams of protein—a far cry from the 20-plus grams you’d find in a serving of most meats. It’s worth noting, though, that jackfruit has more protein than many other fruits.

Vitamins and Minerals

Micronutrients are where jackfruit shines. Those looking for a potassium boost will be pleased to learn that one cup of the fruit serves up 739mg of this mineral—21% of the daily value. Additionally, the same serving of raw jackfruit contains a wealth of vitamin C (23mg or about 35% of daily value) plus respectable amounts of vitamin A, magnesium, manganese, and copper.

Health Benefits

Jackfruit provides many essential nutrients that help keep us healthy. Incorporating jackfruit to your eating plan gives your body important building blocks for feeling good and aging well.

Supports Heart Health

Jackfruit's naturally low solid fat content and high fiber help it fit perfectly into the American Heart Association's recommended dietary pattern. The potassium in Jackfruit regulates blood pressure, reducing the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Furthermore, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Specifically, the vitamin C content of jackfruit may help prevent plaque instability in atherosclerosis. If you have high cholesterol, consider adding jackfruit to your grocery list.

Enhances Immunity

The vitamin C in jackfruit also supports the immune system, repairs cell damage, and helps the body absorb other critical nutrients like iron. People who have been exposed to cigarette smoke, extreme physical exercise, or excessively cold temperatures stand to benefit from additional vitamin C. In these populations, vitamin C has been shown to reduce the incidence of the common cold by up to 50%. Vitamin C is also a precursor to collagen, which is essential for wound healing.

Jackfruit seeds also contain a protein called jacalin. Jacalin is a lectin that binds with certain carbohydrates. Studies have identified mechanisms by which jacalin protects CD4 (immune system) cells from HIV infection. Although there is no current vaccine against HIV, this research shows potential future promise in the treatment of the disease.

Improves Sleep

Adding more magnesium to your meal plan can lead to better quality sleep and reduced incidence of insomnia, especially for elderly adults who are at higher risk for a magnesium deficiency. A serving of jackfruit contains about 48mg of magnesium. The total recommended dietary allowance of magnesium ranges between 300–350 milligrams. Although one cup of jackfruit won't meet this recommendation on its own, it can help you get closer to your daily goal.

Strengthens Bones

Manganese is an essential micronutrient for bone formation. Studies on postmenopausal women found higher serum manganese levels to be positively associated with bone mineral density and lower risk of fractures.

One cup of jackfruit contains 0.07 milligrams of manganese. This may not seem like much, but given the adequate intake of manganese for adults ranges between just 1.8 to 2.3 milligrams per day, jackfruit is a decent source.

Lowers Risk of Type 2 Diabetes

Occasionally substituting jackfruit for meat is an effective way to cut back on calories and saturated fat while also taking in more fiber and beneficial micronutrients. The combination of eating less saturated fat and more fiber has been associated with improved insulin sensitivity. This dietary shift has positive implications in the reduction of type 2 diabetes.

Allergies

While it’s rare to have an allergy to jackfruit, it is possible. For some people, having an allergy to other tropical fruits, latex, or birch trees may make a jackfruit allergy more likely.

Adverse Effects

Some experts believe that chemicals in jackfruit could interfere with medications used during surgery, making you excessively drowsy. If you know you’ll be having surgery soon, it may be best to stay away from jackfruit, or consult your doctor about eating it.

Varieties

Several different varieties of jackfruit can be grown in warm climates within the United States. Black Gold, originating in Australia, yields an aromatic, deep orange, medium-sized fruit that's around 22 pounds. Also native to Australia is the Cheena, a smaller, 5- to10-pound fruit. The Chompa Gob is a medium fruit at 12 to 20 pounds with a firmer texture and more mild flavor. Other varieties of jackfruit range in color and can be as light as lemon yellow.

When It's Best

You can eat canned or frozen jackfruit any time of the year. Depending on the variety, jackfruit is best between early summer (May/June) through September and October. Because ripe jackfruits can have an objectionable odor, it's actually recommended to eat jackfruit when it is fully grown, but before it is ripe.

Storage and Food Safety

As with all produce, choose jackfruit that isn't bruised. Wash your hands and rinse fresh jackfruit under running water before cutting. Once jackfruit is cut, it should be refrigerated and kept separate from any raw animal products. Cut jackfruit will stay fresh in the refrigerator for three to five days.

How to Prepare

Typically, canned jackfruit intended for cooking is harvested when slightly underripe, meaning it has less flavor—and thus can take on the taste of whatever seasonings or marinades you choose to add. As for its texture, it’s often compared to artichoke hearts because of its stringy, pull-apart quality.

The rise in savory dishes that use jackfruit to mimic shredded meat has made many people wonder: How can a fruit stand in for meat? The truth is, it’s not a perfect substitute. With the right seasonings and flavorings, however, jackfruit may look, feel, and even taste like pork carnitas or barbecue chicken.

There’s no wrong way to eat jackfruit. (Except, of course, consuming without removing its spiky outer rind.) In addition to the many preparations for cooked jackfruit, you can also enjoy it raw. Cutting it, however, may be an arduous task.

Since the fruit releases a sticky sap, many chefs recommend using an oiled knife to cut into it. Slice the fruit lengthwise, as you would a pineapple, then remove the core, pulling the fruit away from the rind. Raw jackfruit can make its way into smoothies or fruit salads with other tropical fruits like rambutan or dragon fruit.

As for cooking jackfruit, recipe ideas abound. You can experiment with substituting jackfruit in just about any meal that features a pulled or shredded meat. In the slow cooker, jackfruit works well as a vegetarian alternative to pull-apart pork for street tacos. (Simply replace pork with an equivalent amount of drained canned jackfruit.) Marinate cooked jackfruit in a buffalo or Caesar dressing, shred, and stuff in a wrap. Nachos, salads, and loaded baked potatoes are all additional opportunities for using jackfruit in place of pulled meats.

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Article Sources
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