Diabetic diet plans can include fruit, such as grapes, apples, berries and citrus fruits. Why not add some variety with jackfruit the largest tree-borne fruit in the world? This ginormous melon is capable of weighing up to 100 lbs. While not yet well-known in the U.S., it has been widely cultivated in Southeast Asia for centuries, where it is a dietary staple, prized for its purported therapeutic benefits. This ungainly, knobby heavyweight is the National Fruit of Bangladesh.
Although still a specialty produce item here, available only in Asian markets, jackfruit may soon be coming to a grocery store near you. When cooked, it soaks up flavorings like a sponge and takes on a meat-like consistency. This unusual melon is fast becoming a favorite among vegans, vegetarians, and health conscious consumers trying to limit their intake of saturated fats. Gourmet food trucks are now offering “pulled pork” jackfruit tacos. Restaurants from Los Angeles, to Columbus, to Brooklyn, have begun serving jackfruit tacos, salads, and meatballs.
Before writing this article, I was a jackfruit novice. I purchased a “small” jackfruit, weighing in at a mere 32-pounds at 99 Ranch Market. I’d intended to eat it fresh, but after watching three guys on YouTube spend hours dismantling this ginormous fruit, using greased knives to avoid its gummy insides, I gifted it to an appreciative Chinese-born friend. As an alternative, I went for the canned, brined version, which is more readily available. I’d read taste descriptions ranging from pineapple-mango to bubble gum. My assessment was that it reminded me of artichoke hearts, both in flavor and consistency. I also tried a Bar-B-Que pulled pork imitation from Upton’s Naturals and found it to be quite tasty.
Diabetic Diet Plans Can Include Fruits Like Jackfruit
Nutrition in Jackfruit
A one-cup serving a jackfruit contains about 150 calories, supplies 10% of your daily fiber needs, is a good source of complete plant protein, and is almost fat-free. Jackfruit is a plentiful source of heart healthy magnesium, potassium and vitamins B-6 and C.
Jackfruit is a Diabetic Friendly Fruit
1. Diabetic Diet Plans Should Include Jackfruit
A comprehensive nutritional assessment of jackfruit determined that this melon has a low glycemic index, meaning that helps keep glucose levels steady and is a diabetic friendly food. In one study, leaf and plant extracts were administered to both Type 1 diabetics and non-diabetics and both groups experienced “significantly improved glucose tolerance.” Type 2 diabetics or pre-diabetics, which account for 50% of the U.S. population, also benefit from stable blood sugar levels.
2. A Protein in Jackfruit Inhibits Herpes
A report from the Student British Medical Journal reports that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases among those ages 45-65 has skyrocketed in recent years. Herpes is one of the most common STDs. Jackfruit lectin, a type of protein that binds to cell membranes, inhibits the spread of the virus.
3. Jackfruit Has Proven Anti-Fungal and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Several studies have identified pathogen-fighting chemicals called phenolic compounds and phytochemicals in jackfruit, which exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. These compounds may prove instrumental in developing therapies to treat inflammation-associated disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, gastro-intestinal diseases, and Parkinson’s disease.
4. Jackfruit Shows Promise in Preventing Colorectal Cancers
Colorectal cancer typically develops slowly, so the incidence increases with age. The median age at diagnosis is 68 years in men and 72 years in women. Jackfruit has been widely used in folk medicine as anti-anti-inflammatory agent, but its potential as a cancer chemopreventative was untested until very recently. A 2017 study in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry identified a flavonol called artocarpin, present in jackfruit, which inhibits the growth of colon cancer cells in lab studies. This may lead to effective treatments for this second most deadly cancer.
5. Jackfruit Helps Keep Blood Pressure in Check
While about one-third of the general population suffers from high blood pressure, the prevalence increases to almost 75% for adults 65 and older. High blood pressure can lead to stoke and heart attacks. Jackfruit is a plentiful source of vitamin B-6, as well as potassium and magnesium, two minerals that we don’t absorb as efficiently as we age. These micronutrients help regulate blood pressure.
6. Eating jackfruit supplies a hefty dose of Vitamin C
Eating one serving of jackfruit supplies over 1/3 of our daily needs for Vitamin C.
According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a meta-analysis demonstrated that older adults metabolize this anti-cell aging vitamin less efficiently, so it is important to consume more vitamin C rich foods like jackfruits. Adequate Vitamin C intake helps protect against heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, and cataracts.
7. Jackfruit Helps Keep You Digestive System Running Smoothly
Many older adults suffer from uncomfortable constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A serving of jackfruit satisfies 10% of daily fiber needs. Increasing fiber intake can ameliorate these conditions and lead to better health.
Tips for Adding Jackfruit to Your Diabetic Diet Plan
Because jackfruits are so large and difficult to dismantle, I recommend buying canned jackfruit, which is available in some mainstream grocers and in many health food stores. Or shop Amazon or The Jackfruit Company’s website, where you can purchase raw diced jackfruit, as well as four different cooked spiced versions, including curry and teriyaki.
Because of jackfruit’s chameleon ability to take on other flavors and masquerade as “meat,” it lends itself to an almost endless variety of preparations. It works well in both savory and sweet dishes. A traditional way to enjoy raw jackfruit is Kathal Ki Biryani, a dish of fried raw jackfruit pieces cooked with a blend of spices and served with basmati rice. For a healthier take, sauté it with spices, and add it to a quinoa bowl or vegetarian curry, or make it into a tasty soup or stir fry it. Jackfruit makes a novel addition to a smoothie or smoothie bowl. It can also be pureed into homemade ice cream or made into cupcakes. No need to discard the protein-rich seeds. They can be boiled, roasted or ground into a flour.