The GlobePreneur lifestyle can be very stressful. But we have the opportunity to savor exotic foods around the world. Our GlobePreneurs Love series brings you a ‘taste’ of some of the amazing experiences, fruits and cuisines from different corners of the globe.
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a relative of figs and breadfruit, and grows in tropical areas of Southeast Asia, Brazil and Africa. While it is a fruit, its consistency is similar to that of chicken or pork. It has a fairly neutral taste when young, so it takes on the flavor of whatever sauce or seasoning you pair it with. It has a stringy consistency that works especially well with tangy BBQ sauce to make a vegan BBQ pulled ‘pork’ sandwich. Jackfruit is a healthy and sustainable vegan meat replacement and one of the big trends of 2017.
Unlike animal sources of protein, jackfruit contains no saturated fat or cholesterol, is light on sodium, and is also low in calories. Additionally, jackfruit contains fiber and potassium, both heart-healthy nutrients that we need. It’s sustainably sourced – something that today’s consumers care about and are willing to pay for.
How to prepare jackfruit: Young vs. ripe
When Jackfruit is “young,” “green” or unripe, it has an entirely different consistency and usage than when it’s ripe. Ripe jackfruit is eaten like any fresh fruit — the only difference is that it’s an extremely large fruit. An average jackfruit weighs between 30 and 50 pounds. Once you cut through the thick, green coral reef-like skin, you’ll find a creamy white interior filled with fibrous fruit and large pits.
The flavor of ripe jackfruit is sweet and it’s typically eaten raw on its own or as part of a dessert. Young, unripe jackfruit can be found canned and also in pouches in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. This is the type that is gaining so much attention as a meat alternative. You’ll see it in tacos, burritos, curries, bowls, salads, desserts and stir-fries.
What to do with Jackfruit?
In many parts of Southeast Asia, jackfruit is served in dozens of ways: jackfruit curry, stir fry, juice/smoothies, chips, ice cream, tacos, carnitas, desserts, decor, sandwiches/burger and even baking flour. These are just a few examples of jackfruit’s remarkable versatility in the kitchen.
Young jackfruit is generally packed with some amount of water, and sometimes also salt, so give it a rinse with cold water and let it drain in a colander before using it in recipes. Then you can literally do anything with it! It works especially well with bold and spicy flavors. Add it to chilis and stews, or sauté it with onions and peppers and throw it in a pita with some za’atar. Rub it with a Mexican spice blend, sear it in a pan and then wrap it up with brown rice and avocado for a filling burrito.
Jackfruit is high in magnesium, vitamin B6 and antioxidants while offering a low-carb snack or even the perfect vegan “pulled-pork” sandwich. It can be found dried and roasted, and it can be added to soups, used in chips, jams, juices and even ice cream, in addition to simply eating fresh and raw. The seeds, containing a ton of nutritional benefits, can be boiled, roasted or ground into flour. All this nutrition gives jackfruit some truly remarkable benefits, which will be discussed below.
1. Enhances Immunity and May Help Fight Cancer
Jackfruit is a vitamin C food that contains many other antioxidants and cancer-fighting phytonutrients, including lignans, isoflavones and saponins. Additionally, we need to fight those damaging free radicals that enter the body daily. (1) According to Penn State University, by consuming antioxidants, we can neutralize the free radicals, which helps fight some forms of cancer and can give the immune system the support it needs to continue to manage it. In addition, a study published in the October 2012 issue of the journal Carcinogenesis found that vitamin C increased activity of an important antioxidant enzyme that helps prevent breast cancer. (2) Combined, all this makes jackfruit a potential cancer-fighting food.
2. Boosts Magnesium Levels
Magnesium is crucial for the structure of our bones. Women are especially at risk for magnesium deficiency, and it’s common for African-Americans and the elderly to suffer from low magnesium levels too.
One cup of jackfruit contains 15 percent of the daily recommended value of magnesium, making it a great choice to add to your diet, especially since magnesium can help reduce the risk of many diseases, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, in addition to helping provide strong bones. (3)
3. Reduces Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
This robust fruit contains a healthy dose of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 falls into a category along with folic acid and vitamin B12 that may help reduce heart disease. This occurs due to lower levels of homocysteine, which is an amino acid and important building block of protein.
A clinical trial known as the the Heart Outcomes Prevention Evaluation 2 including more than 5,500 adults with known cardiovascular disease learned that supplementation of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid for a period of five years reduced homocysteine levels, which decreased both heart disease risk and stroke risk by about 25 percent. (4) And while it’s uncertain as to how this affects the body, studies indicate that there may be a relationship to homocysteine and the arteries. (5)
4. Improves Digestion
Jackfruit may be a great choice for anyone suffering from constipation or issues with digestion, and it’s the seeds of the jackfruit that come in handy. The seeds contain a good portion of dietary fiber, and as we know, high-fiber foods are great because they not only help with constipation, but they help fill you up, which may contribute to weight loss.
5. Aids in Preventing Osteoporosis
The National Osteoporosis Foundation reports that our bones and teeth compile about 99 percent of the calcium found in our bodies. However, we lose calcium through our skin, nails and even our sweat on a daily basis. The problem is that our bodies cannot produce new calcium, which means we have to get it through the foods we eat. When we don’t do that, the body goes to our bones to get the calcium it needs. This is when osteopenia, which leads to osteoporosis, can occur. A serving of jackfruit contains about 6 percent of the recommended daily allowance of calcium, making it a strong source to help stave off osteoporosis. (6)
Jackfruit is a versatile fruit which can be eaten as a fruit, or in the preparation of meals as a meat replacement. It tastes great and has many health benefits too. Furthermore it is a sustainable fruit and a big trend setter for 2017! Are you a jackfruit fan?