The goal of Unveiling Knowledge is to expose hidden truths about a wide array of topics– however, health based articles dominate the site as of late.  The reasoning is simple: we have collectively become a sickly people, largely because toxic chemicals have entered our environment at a staggering rate over the last few decades. Unfortunately, on a weekly or even daily basis, we have to deal with corporations and industries trying to push toxic products on us, spray or release toxic chemicals into the air or dump toxic byproducts into the environment. So, most of my articles focus on bringing these practices to light because stopping this is paramount. However, our collective diets have gotten exceedingly worse over this same time frame. Therefore, it is equally important to bring to light amazing super foods packed with nutrients the body needs to gain and maintain optimal health. My goal is to start publishing more articles in the category I dubbed “Super Food Spotlight”. Today will be focusing on a close relative of breadfruit, fig and mulberry; the amazing, yet not well-known, jackfruit.

Description 

Jackfruit tree in BangladeshFirst and foremost, the Jack fruit is huge… as in, the biggest known tree-borne fruit in the world huge! Just take a look at the picture on the left and see for yourself.

MASSIVE is a better way to describe the fruit.

According to this review published by the Purdue University the fruit’s size can range between 8in to 3ft long and 6 to 20in wide. As crazy as the size of the fruit is, the weight may be even more impressive: The fruit typically ranges from 10 to 60 lbs but can get as heavy as 110 lbs!!

Another interesting aspect brought up by the article is that the trees stand anywhere between 30 and 70 ft tall. One thing is for sure, you do not want to find yourself under this tree when one of the fruit breaks free!

When ripe, the jackfruit is either green or yellow. Additionally, hard cone like points (as seen below), that are no doubt a self-defense mechanism from tree climbing animals, cover most of the fruit’s surface space.  The fruit is found in multiple bulbs throughout the inside of the protective shell. Additionally, the bulbs are typically surrounding an individual seed.

Jackfruit_ചക്ക

Nutritional facts/ Health Benefits

United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service has a full write-up on the on the nutritional profile of the fruit. The chart below is their findings for a100 gram (3 oz serving).

jackfruit nutrtion
(Source: USDA National Nutrient data base)

Here is a quick review of the chart:

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  • 100 g of Jackfruit bulbs has 95 calories. The simple sugars found in the bulb account for the good energy value.
  • It is a good source of fiber, which most people will associate with helping achieve regular bowel movements. However, fiber also helps eliminate chemicals from the colon. As mentioned before chemicals are finding their way into our environment at a ridiculous rate and can lead to a plethora of chronic illness including cancer. Helping the body get rid of them is a must in today’s world.
  • Vitamin A, Carotene-ß, Lutein- Zeaxanthin and Crypto-Xanthin-ß work in tandem to help the body perform vital functions involving antioxidants. Additionally, they are essential for ocular health and maintaining integrity of mucusa and the skin.
  • It is a great source of B complex vitamins, something that is rare in fruits. Our bodies need the B complex vitamins to perform a wide array of functions, including: nervous and digestive system regulation, supporting and protecting the immune system, helping the body break down protein, aiding in the process of making and maintaining DNA, and supporting proper functionality of our muscles, nerves, and heart In other words, they are very important.
  • It is also a good source of  potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. These minerals help the body perform far too many functions to attempt to list; doing so would do them an injustice. To get an idea of how important these minerals are, click on the hyperlinks for each one.
  • There are also small amounts of phytonutrients lignans, isoflavones, and saponins, known for their antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-aging, and anti-ulcer (among other) properties.
  • Finally, this fruit is a great source of the powerful antioxidant Vitamin C. Antioxidants are vital to the body because they help fight both cancer causing free radicals and pathogenic microorganisms.

The Jackfruit is a nutrition powerhouse and that is just looking at the flesh of the bulb. The before-mentioned Purdue review has this to say about the health benefits associated with the more obscure parts of the plant:

The Chinese consider jackfruit pulp and seeds tonic, cooling and nutritious, and to be “useful in overcoming the influence of alcohol on the system.” The seed starch is given to relieve biliousness and the roasted seeds are regarded as aphrodisiac. The ash of jackfruit leaves, burned with corn and coconut shells, is used alone or mixed with coconut oil to heal ulcers. The dried latex yields artostenone, convertible to artosterone, a compound with marked androgenic action. Mixed with vinegar, the latex promotes healing of abscesses, snakebite and glandular swellings. The root is a remedy for skin diseases and asthma. An extract of the root is taken in cases of fever and diarrhea. The bark is made into poultices. Heated leaves are placed on wounds. The wood has a sedative property; its pith is said to produce abortion.

As we start to look closer at the health benefits of this marvelous plant, I am confident that many more health benefits will be reveled showing us once again, to achieve and maintain optimal health we need food with proper nutrients– not pharmaceutical drugs.

Cultivation

The jackfruit is not found in isolated areas of the plant, like many other super foods from tropical areas. Instead, places like Africa, India, Brazil, the Caribbean, China, Southeast Asia and even the United States (Hawaii and Florida) are cultivating jackfruit. We all need to reassess what crops we allocate farmland for. Currently, crops with little to no nutritional profile make up most of the allocated farmland across first world countries. To be blunt, this is a complete waste of space and, considering how many starving and malnourished people we have on this planet, it is a travesty! There is no other way to describe this situation.

When dealing with the crops we choose to plant on a mass scale, we must start thinking in terms of what is best for mankind and not what is going to make the most money for a select few running the food industry. The wide-spread planting of this miraculous plant is a great start!

To end, I will leave a video detailing how to open the jackfruit and retrieve the deliciously sweet nectar inside, since opening the shell of a massive fruit that has protective “spikes” around it is not exactly an easy task!