Jackfruit with a botanical name Artocarpus Heterophyllus belongs to the Mulberry family. The fruit is borne by a big tree and is commonly grown in South and Southeast Asian countries. Jackfruit is very large in size with 36 inches in length and 20 inches in diameter and almost weighing 40 kilograms easily. It has a thorny thick exterior skin and when cut secretes a white sticky fluid inside. There are a cluster of fruits arranged neatly with each having a single large seed. Though not an easy fruit to handle, jackfruit is one of its kind and comes with various uses and also health benefits. It has a strong distinct smell and a very sweetish taste to it. However, those not accustomed to the fruit may not like its smell or its taste. The tree of jackfruit is easy to grow and withstands any type of climatic changes. Currently the major jackfruit producing countries are Thailand and Vietnam which they process and export to North America and Europe. Jackfruit is also the national fruit of Bangladesh.
Jackfruit is classified into two types based on the texture of the fruit inside. One which has a tight hard flesh when ripe and comes from a large fruit whereas the other which is too soft and mushy in the ripen form and borne by a relatively smaller fruit. Different countries name these two types in their own language and hence they do not have any common name as identification.
Just like its size, the jackfruit’s uses are also wide in range. At unripe stage, it is used as a vegetable in the preparation of gravies and spicy curries. At this stage, they are also made into chips. At the well ripened stage, they can be eaten raw as well as made into jam, custard, cake, and other sweet preparations. Its seeds are also edible which can be fried and eaten as a snack or used with other vegetables in preparing various dishes. The wood of the jackfruit tree is used for making musical instruments such as veena, mridangam, kanjira etc. It is also used to make furniture, doors, windows and wooden planks for the roof. In Vietnam, the Buddhist statues are made out of the wood from jackfruit tree. The leaves of the tree are used for feeding the cattle. They are also used as food wrappers while cooking. The latex after heating is used as cement for mending chinaware and holes in the bucket. Though not as strong as gum, when mixed with certain chemicals it is used for binding purposes. Jackfruit is also used in the preparation of herbal medicines.
Jackfruit is packed with many essential nutrients that are useful for our body. It is rich in calories, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals, energy and dietary fiber. It contains minerals such as calcium, potassium, iron, sodium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and Vitamins A, B 1, 2 and 6, C and E. It also has electrolytes, phytonutrients and antioxidants in considerable amounts.
- Jackfruit is a good source of Vitamin C which helps in boosting the immune system. It makes the body strong enough to fight the bacterial and viral infections such as cold, flu and cough.
- A handful of jackfruit bulbs provide instant energy to the body as it is high in calories and carbohydrates without any fat. It also fills the stomach and gives relief from hunger.
- A safe fruit to consume for diabetics as they contain simple sugars like sucrose and fructose which are easily digested and released into our body in a controlled manner thereby not increasing the sugar level of the patients.
- Jackfruit is high in potassium providing almost 10% of our body’s daily requirement. Potassium helps to maintain the sodium and fluid levels in the body thereby keeping a check on the blood pressure from going out of control.
- It helps in maintaining good muscle function which includes the heart muscles too and avoids the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- The rich dietary fiber in jackfruit makes it ideal for good digestion. It acts as a laxative and ensures the stool is soft enough to pass easily thus preventing constipation. The fiber and roughage present in the fruit cleans the path of gastrointestinal tract completely and disallows any accumulation.
- Jackfruit helps in reducing the risk of colon cancer. Colon cancer is formed due to the damage of colon cells. It first appears as polyps and later develops into cancer. Though jackfruit cannot treat the cancer, it helps in removing the toxins in the colon and keeping it clean and healthy.
- Regular intake of jackfruit prevents the formation of piles which is caused mainly due to chronic constipation. By preventing constipation, jackfruit effectively prevents piles too.
- Jackfruit contains good amount of Vitamin A which is very essential for maintaining healthy eye function. It also protects the eye from various infections and prevents formation of cataract as well as eye degeneration during old age.
- Its rich antioxidant properties and high water content helps in maintaining good skin health keeping it supple, fresh and glowing. It reduces the early formation of wrinkles and gives the skin a young look and slows down the ageing process.
- Jackfruit and its extracts are found to be useful in treating the allergic symptoms of asthma like wheezing and difficulty in breathing.
- The two important minerals present adequately in jackfruit plays a vital role in bone health. Calcium strengthens the bone function and prevents problems like arthritis and osteoporosis and potassium ensures that the calcium present in the body is not wasted thereby increasing the density level of calcium.
- Jackfruit provides good amount of iron which increases the hemoglobin levels considerably and prevents the risk of anemia.
- The antioxidants and Vitamin C in jackfruit is found to destroy the free radicals which causes certain cancers and tumors.
Jackfruit is known as ‘Poor man’s diet’ as it is not very costly and at the same time provides all essential nutrients. It is found to be effective in treating various ailments. However, jackfruit too has its side effects. Consuming too much is said to cause stomach problems and in some cases it is reported to have caused increase in coagulation. If you are person with certain health conditions, kindly get your doctor’s advice before indulging in this wonderful and sweet fruit.