Superfood Spotlight: Jackfruit

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

In a new year we often re-commit to our health—starting with the foods we eat. But, we don’t just search for foods that are nutritious. We search for foods that taste good, too!

The ideal diet would consist of nutrient-dense foods that taste amazing, right? This is where jackfruit comes in. Cute name, ugly fruit, stellar nutritional profile.

Jackfruit originated in South Asia and is the largest tree fruit… some growing as large as 100 pounds! Just imagine hiking the tropical landscape with 100 pound fruit hanging off of a tree, two stories in the air.

The outer surface the jackfruit has a thick greenish skin, covered with blunt thorns that soften as it ripens. Cut it open and you’ll find 50 to 500 edible bulbs with little seeds inside.

Jackfruit is in season during the summer, like most tropical fruits. So, “why pick this one,” you might be wondering.

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Jackfruit is a vitamin and mineral powerhouse. To start, this unique food is a good source of Vitamin A, which is known for its contribution to vision health. The Vitamin C in jackfruit helps strengthen your immunity to infections and creates protection from free radicals. This fruit is unique in that it also contains B vitamins, which are typically found in animal products This is a serious plus for anyone following a plant-based diet.

Intrigued, yet? Well there’s more…

Jackfruit also supplies potassium, magnesium, manganese and iron. The potassium, in particular, is very important to your overall health because it not only balances electrolytes in the body, it also helps reduce your blood pleasure. So, hello heart health!

And although the bulbs in a jackfruit contain simple sugars (which are notorious for causing a quick energy boost followed by an energy crash), the dietary fiber helps keep your absorption of these sugars under control. Plus, we all know by now how great fiber is for our digestive health.

Eager to try it out?

If you decide to buy a whole jackfruit, just make sure to look for soft thorns and a surface that yields to thumb pressure. It warrants mention that the fruit will ooze a sticky liquid when cut, but coating your hands in coconut oil or rubbing the fruit with lemon before cutting can help minimize the mess. Some even choose to wear rubber gloves during the process.

You’ll learn to appreciate the beauty of jackfruit

Once you’ve made it past the thorns, the tough skin, ooze, and sometimes unpleasant smells, you’ll find the beautiful, sweet-smelling, orange-yellow bulbs. Just split open the bulbs and remove the seed. Then, the jackfruit can be enjoyed in its raw glory.

Because jackfruit is quite large, you might find buying it precut or packaged easier. Many stores offer this option, so feel free to let someone else do the work for you. Just avoid purchasing it canned or coated in syrup.

Once you’re home, storing this unique superfood in the fridge slows down the ripening process. And this is probably a good idea, because, well… jackfruit can spoil quickly.

If you’re ready to start experimenting with the fruit in the kitchen, there are a variety of options. The fruit is often used to mimic pulled pork and is even found on vegan taco menus. Some of the most well-known, vegan chefs have used jackfruit for decades keeping it a close culinary secret. With a cook time of less than thirty minutes, this superfood is easy to sauté or prepare in any number of ways. In parts of southern India, people enjoy jackfruit in a traditional dish with shaved coconut, honey and banana. You can use Asian-inspired flavors to make delicious, Asian lettuce wraps, or even add it to a delicious broccoli slaw to amp up the nutrient profile. Or… you don’t even need to cook it. For a simpler approach, put a few slices of jackfruit in your next fruit salad to enjoy the flesh raw.

Vegan Jackfruit
Sub jackfruit in for shredded pork or chicken in your burgers for a vegan take on a fast food classic.

One half cup of jackfruit counts as one SmartCarb for those following the Nutrisystem program. Click here to learn more about SmartCarbs.

No matter what you decide to do with it, your body—and most likely your taste buds—will thank you.