Surprising Benefits of Jackfruit (Plus Jackfruit Recipes)
More people are trying to incorporate plant-based food into their weekly meals. Not only does it help our planet but incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet can positively affect your health, too! Plant-based diets are often low in saturated fat and cholesterol and rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which can lower your risk of hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes, digestive disease and certain cancers.
If you are thinking of incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet, you likely think of beans, legumes, tofu and substitute meat options. But there is a fruit you can add to the mix: Jackfruit!
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a type of fruit native to south and southeast Asia. It can thrive in warm or tropical environments, such as Hawaii, south Florida, South America and the Caribbean. While it has recently gained popularity in the United States, communities in countries like India and Bangladesh have been using and consuming jackfruit for centuries. Jackfruit grows in trees and can weigh up to 40 pounds. It has a thick, bumpy exterior that can be difficult to remove. Some compare it to an oversized mango with green skin. When you open it, it is filled with plump, yellow-colored pods that can be slightly stringy.
What are the health benefits of jackfruit?
One cup of sliced jackfruit offers 157 calories, 1 gram of fat, 38 grams of carbohydrates, 2.8 grams of protein and 2.5 grams of fiber. While 2.8 grams of protein is relatively low compared to meat, such as chicken, this is relatively high compared to other fruits. It is also a great source of vitamins A and C and potassium. Vitamin C-rich foods can help reduce inflammation in the body and can benefit skin health. Potassium and fiber also help promote a healthy heart.
Where can you buy jackfruit?
Because jackfruit is native to south and southeast Asia, fresh jackfruit is hard to come by in the United States. Occasionally you can score a fresh jackfruit at Asian markets, but chances are likely you will need to go to the canned aisle of your grocery store. Canned jackfruit is already cut and prepared, making it easy to cook with. Canned jackfruit is usually sold in water, brine or syrup. Avoid canned jackfruit in syrup as this can add unnecessary sugar and calories to your meals.
What does jackfruit taste like?
How jackfruit tastes will depend on its ripeness. Unripe jackfruit has a mild flavor, and it typically pairs well with savory dishes, with many using it as a substitute for pulled pork or chicken or in curries. The unripe fruit tends to be meatier and easily soaks up the flavors of sauces. It is an excellent option for those looking for a meat substitute.
Ripe jackfruit is sweeter and has a similar flavor to other tropical fruits like banana, mango or pineapple. It is great for snacking as is or adding to your smoothies or other sweet dishes.
Should some people not eat jackfruit?
Jackfruit is relatively safe to eat, but a few groups of people should avoid consuming it. People allergic to latex or birch pollen may be allergic to jackfruit. Also, because jackfruit is high in potassium, people with kidney issues or chronic kidney disease should avoid the fruit. It can lead to a condition called hyperkalemia, which occurs when your kidneys can no longer properly remove enough potassium from your blood, causing a buildup of it in the bloodstream.
Jackfruit can be prepared savory or sweet. Most recipes call for packaged or canned jackfruit, which can be sautéed in a skillet along with spices and other ingredients. One popular way to prepare jackfruit is to make a faux pulled pork. The meaty texture of the jackfruit mixed with barbecue sauce will make you think you are eating the real deal! Here is a recipe for Jackfruit "Pulled Pork" that is as delicious as it is nutritious.
Jackfruit "Pulled Pork" Recipe
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 45 minutes Yields: 5 servings
Calories: 320 Fat: 3.7 grams Fiber: 4.4 grams Protein: 3.7 grams
- 2 20-ounce cans of jackfruit: Look for packages that label jackfruit as "young" or "packed in brine." These words indicate that it's unripe and suitable as a meat substitute.
- 1 medium yellow or white onion
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 cup of barbecue sauce
- ¼ cup of water
- Drain and rinse both cans of jackfruit
- Add olive oil to a medium-sized pan on medium heat. Add your onions and sauté until softened.
- Add in garlic and let cook for one minute.
- Add your rinsed jackfruit and 0regano to the pan and sauté for another three to five minutes.
- Add barbecue sauce and water to the pan and mix everything. Let this simmer for 25-30 minutes.
- While still on the stove, take two forks and shred the jackfruit. Let the shredded jackfruit cook for another 5 minutes or until it is lightly browned.
Serve your jackfruit mixture on a bun or in a lettuce wrap for a healthier option. Top with your favorite toppings, such as coleslaw and pickles. Your jackfruit mixture can last in the refrigerator for up to five days, and you can reheat it on the stove or microwave.
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