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Unlocking the Culinary Potential: A Guide to Jackfruit Selection and Storage


While lentils, beans, and tofu are commonly recognized as meat alternatives, there’s another player in the game: jackfruit. Are you looking to enhance your diet with more plant-based options? You’re in good company! A growing number of individuals are reducing their meat intake, with a 2020 Gallup poll revealing that 23 percent of Americans reported eating less meat than the previous year.

Amid the plant-based diet craze, jackfruit has gained popularity, and according to Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, the New York City–based author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table, this comes as no surprise. She notes, “Like tofu, jackfruit absorbs the flavors of other foods and spices it’s paired with. So, don’t hesitate to incorporate it into your favorite dishes to elevate the taste and keep you satiated without piling on excess calories. What’s more, you’ll reap the nutritional benefits it offers.”

Explore further to unravel the secrets of this intriguing fruit and discover compelling reasons why integrating jackfruit into your diet could be a game-changer. Elevate your culinary experience and well-being simultaneously!

What exactly is Jackfruit?

Jackfruit is a tropical tree fruit scientifically known as Artocarpus heterophyllus, originating from Africa, Asia, and South America. Picture a fruit larger than your typical orange or lemon – a single jackfruit can tip the scales at a whopping 40 pounds or more! Its appearance is reminiscent of an oversized mango, characterized by green skin and spikes.

According to historical research, jackfruit has been a staple in diets since ancient times, showcasing its enduring popularity.

There are two main varieties of jackfruit. The firm variety is known for its crunchier texture, considered to be of higher quality. On the other hand, the soft variety boasts small, spongey flakes and a sweeter flavor.

Jackfruit isn’t just your run-of-the-mill fruit; it plays a unique role in the culinary world. Often utilized as a substitute for pulled meat, as noted by Taub-Dix, its stringy texture is said to closely resemble pulled pork. This makes it a favored choice among vegans and vegetarians seeking a satisfying and flavorful alternative.

What are the Nutrition Facts?

Dive into the nutritional profile of jackfruit, and you’ll find that one cup of sliced jackfruit delivers 157 calories, 1 gram of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 2.8 grams of protein, and 2.5 grams of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

While most fruits are not renowned for their protein content, jackfruit stands out with its 3 grams per serving. Although this is relatively high among fruits, it falls short compared to meat, such as a skinless chicken breast providing 33.6 grams of protein. “It may not be as satisfying as animal protein,” notes Taub-Dix. Other plant-based proteins, like lentils offering 17.9 grams of protein per cup, outshine jackfruit in this regard. To enhance the protein and fiber content, consider pairing jackfruit with plant protein sources such as chickpeas, beans, or almonds.

In addition to its unique nutritional composition, whole jackfruit packs a punch of essential nutrients. Taub-Dix highlights, “Jackfruit’s flesh is a good source of vitamin C, and its seeds are a source of protein, potassium, calcium, and iron.” Notably, unlike many fruits, jackfruit contains B vitamins, including vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid, which contribute to a healthy nervous system.

Now, let’s address some common questions:

Does jackfruit taste like meat?

Jackfruit doesn’t inherently taste like meat; its unripe form has a neutral flavor. However, its stringy texture resembles meat, making it a popular meat substitute. Ripe jackfruit, in contrast, has a sweet taste.

What does jackfruit smell like?

Many people do not enjoy the smell of jackfruit. It has a musky smell when unripe and can smell like a mix of onion, pineapple, and banana when ripe.

Is it healthy?

Jackfruit offers several key nutrients, including fiber, protein, vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium. Those nutrients can help you manage your weight and blood sugar, promote healthy skin, and keep your heart healthy.

What can I make with jackfruit?

Unripe jackfruit plays nicely in savory dishes like curry, tacos, and in place of pulled pork in a barbecue slider. Sweet, ripened jackfruit makes a tasty addition to smoothies.

Are there any health risks?

Avoid jackfruit if you are allergic to latex or birch pollen. Also be careful if you have kidney issues, because jackfruit contains potassium, and too much of this mineral can strain the kidneys.

Moving on to potential health benefits, Kristin Gillespie, RDN, emphasizes, “Because of its rich nutrient content, jackfruit offers a variety of health benefits.” These potential benefits include: lowering inflammation, promoting healthy skin, heart-health benefits, and weightloss benefits healthy. Explore the wholesome possibilities of jackfruit for a nutrient-packed addition to your diet!

Discover the potential health benefits that extend beyond mere nutrition:

Lower Inflammation in the Body: According to Gillespie, jackfruit can reduce inflammation. A single cup of sliced jackfruit contains 22.6 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C. To put it in perspective, men should aim for 90 mg, and women for 75 mg of vitamin C per day, as per the NIH. With just one serving, jackfruit contributes over 20 percent of the recommended daily intake. Foods rich in vitamin C, like jackfruit, play a crucial role in diminishing inflammation, thereby potentially lowering the risk of chronic diseases.

Promote Healthy Skin: The rich vitamin C and antioxidant content in jackfruit make it a valuable asset for enhancing skin health and preventing issues like aging, notes Gillespie. Vitamin C is known to play a pivotal role in collagen production, contributing to plump and smooth skin, as supported by previous research. Additionally, a higher intake of vitamin C has been associated with a reduced likelihood of wrinkled skin. Jackfruit goes further by containing phytonutrients such as lignans, isoflavones, and saponins, which exert an anti-aging effect.

Keep the Heart Healthy: Incorporating jackfruit into your diet brings a double dose of heart-healthy nutrients – potassium and fiber. The American Heart Association highlights potassium’s ability to counteract the adverse effects of sodium on blood pressure. Furthermore, a fiber-rich diet has been linked to lower cholesterol levels, reduced blood pressure, and decreased inflammation, contributing to overall cardiovascular health.

Explore the multifaceted benefits of jackfruit, from combating inflammation to promoting radiant skin and supporting a healthy heart. This tropical fruit is not just a culinary delight but a nutritional powerhouse with the potential to elevate your well-being.

Uncover the potential of jackfruit as a weight-loss ally, as highlighted by Gillespie:

Incorporating jackfruit into your diet does have the potential to aid in weight loss, according to Gillespie.

While jackfruit’s 2.5 grams of fiber per serving may not be exceptionally high compared to some other produce, such as green peas with 8.8 grams of fiber per cup, it contributes to meeting the recommended daily fiber intake. The Mayo Clinic suggests 21 to 25 grams per day for women and 30 to 38 grams per day for men. Research from 2016 reveals that the majority of Americans fall short of consuming sufficient fiber.

Fiber plays a crucial role in achieving weight loss goals by adding bulk to your diet. Gillespie explains, “It can help keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time, thus cutting back on unnecessary snacking and grazing.”

Moreover, opting for jackfruit as a meat substitute can lead to calorie savings. Gillespie points out, “It contains fewer calories than most meats,” making it a natural way to reduce caloric intake. For instance, a 150-gram serving of jackfruit has 157 calories (before any sauces are added), compared to 375 calories in 150 grams of pulled pork.

Research supports the notion that embracing a plant-based diet can contribute to weight loss. A systematic review in 2020 found that overweight individuals experienced weight loss on a plant-based diet, possibly due to increased consumption of fiber and plant proteins and decreased intake of saturated fats and animal proteins.

However, Gillespie emphasizes caution in monitoring serving sizes, as jackfruit has a higher calorie content per serving than many other fruits and is primarily composed of carbohydrates. Balance is key to incorporating jackfruit effectively into your diet for weight management.

Selecting and storing jackfruit is a breeze with these tips from Kelsey Lorencz, RDN, the creator of the blog Graciously Nourished:

1. Raw, Canned, or Preseasoned: You have multiple options when it comes to acquiring jackfruit. Whether you prefer it raw, canned, or prepackaged with seasonings, the choice is yours. According to Lorencz, jackfruit can be enjoyed in its natural state or after cooking.

2. Convenience in Packaging: Many brands simplify the process for you. In your local grocery store, head to the section with other meat substitutes, and you’re likely to find packaged or canned precooked jackfruit. This convenient option allows you to skip the heavy lifting and dive straight into incorporating jackfruit into your dishes.

3. Check the Label for Specifics: When perusing the labels, pay attention to specific indications. As recommended by the Cleveland Clinic, look for the terms “young” or “packed in brine.” These details are crucial, especially if you’re using jackfruit as a meat substitute. This labeling suggests that the jackfruit is unripe, providing a neutral flavor that works well in savory dishes.

4. Ensure Unripe for Savory Dishes: If your goal is to use jackfruit in savory preparations, selecting unripe options is key. The “young” or “packed in brine” labels serve as your guide to achieving that desired neutral flavor, ideal for savory culinary creations.

Whether you’re a fan of raw jackfruit, prefer the convenience of canned varieties, or opt for prepackaged seasoned options, the versatility of jackfruit makes it a delightful addition to your culinary repertoire. Keep an eye on the labels for the right cues, and you’ll be well on your way to enjoying this unique and nutritious fruit.

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