The untold truth of jackfruit

Have you ever been in the grocery store, walking through the produce aisles, and found yourself staring at a very large, prickly, greenish-yellow fruit and had no idea what it was? It was most likely a jackfruit. The jackfruit is a member of the fig and mulberry tree family and is native to Southeast Asia, where it is the national fruit of Bangladesh. Jackfruit primarily grows in the tropical climates. Sometimes the jackfruit is confused for a durian, but durian fruits differ in that they are considerably smaller, their outside is spiky, and the inside has a distinctive smell that many consider to be quite stinky (via The Star).

The jackfruit may remind you of a food that should belong in the Guinness Book of World Records because it is so cumbersome in size. In fact, jackfruits are the largest tree fruit in the world. They can weigh as much as 100 pounds, and be 3 feet long. The texture is said to be similar to pulled pork, and features a pleasant flavor when ripe, similar to mango, banana, or pineapple. When the fruit is green and unripe, it tastes more like a potato. 

But jackfruit is best described as neither fruity nor meaty. This fruit has an interesting quality that allows it to readily soak up other flavors and spices, which makes it extremely versatile in its use (via Food Revolution Network). How do you eat and use this strange fruit in your meals?

How to eat a jackfruit

Cutting and peeling a jackfruit can be tedious business. You will want to spread out some newspapers to make the clean-up easier. It's also recommended you oil your knife and hands so the sticky filaments don't gum up your work. Start in the middle and cut the fruit in half. You will want to clean off any gluey white sap with a paper towel. Then take the two halves and quarter them before you extract the fruit bulbs, remove the seeds, and the edible, stringy-like fibers (via NDTV Food). Once you've done this, you can use these parts of the jackfruit in a variety of culinary ways.

Many people enjoy boiling or roasting jackfruit seeds, which brings out their sweetness. These seeds have been compared to chestnuts in taste, but the flavor is much lighter and is more like a lotus root (via Serious Eats). Because this fruit, when it is still green, has similar properties to tofu, it can be served as an alternative to meat. The stringy fibers can be substituted to make a vegetarian version of pulled pork that can be enjoyed on a sandwich or in a taco, while the fruit can be used in smoothies, desserts, vegetarian curries, stir-fries, and salads. Some people even like to eat it raw (via The Spruce Eats). 

In addition to its novel look and interesting cooking properties, the jackfruit has many health benefits. What are these benefits?

The nutritional benefits of jackfruit

While jackfruit contains a fair amount of calories per serving, weighing in at 155 calories per a 1-cup serving, its seeds are chock full of vitamins and minerals (via Healthline). Packed with vitamin C and fiber, this fruit can aid in digestion and boost your immune system. It contains nutrients with anti-cancer properties, along with B vitamins that help regulate your blood sugar levels. 

But the goodness of jackfruit doesn't end there. This super fruit contains a fair amount of potassium which aids in keeping your blood pressure steady to help reduce your chance of heart attack or stroke. Jackfruit also contains vitamin A, beta carotene, and lutein which can keep your eyes healthy. And if you are looking for the fountain of youth, jackfruit's water content and antioxidant properties can assist in keeping your skin hydrated and reduce the signs of aging. 

Jackfruit seeds offer their own powerhouse of nutrients. They are rich in two B vitamins that can energize your body; they contain fiber and resistant starch which help in appetite control and reducing blood sugar levels; and, last, but not least, it is rumored that they also have an aphrodisiac quality to them, have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat sexual disorders (via Healthline).

The jackfruit may be a weird looking food, but its versatility, interesting texture, and health benefits make it worth trying.