And while lentils, beans, and tofu are well-known meat substitutes, there’s a fruit to add to the mix: jackfruit.
“Since plant-based diets are on everyone’s lips these days, it’s no surprise that jackfruit would become [popular],” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, the New York City–based author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You From Label to Table.
“Like tofu, jackfruit takes on the flavor of other foods and spices paired with it,” Taub-Dix says. “So feel free to add it to your favorite dishes to pump up the volume and help you feel full without adding lots of calories. Plus, you get the benefit of its nutrient value.”
Read on to learn all about this mysterious fruit, and why you should consider adding it to your diet.
What Is Jackfruit?
Jackfruit is often used as a substitute for pulled meat, notes Taub-Dix: “Its stringy texture is said to resemble pulled pork, and it's often used as such by vegans and vegetarians.”
Jackfruit Nutrition Facts
Bonus: Whole jackfruit is a source of other key nutrients. “Jackfruit’s flesh is a good source of vitamin C and its seeds are a source of protein, potassium, calcium, and iron,” Taub-Dix says. “And unlike other fruits, jackfruit contains B vitamins, including vitamin B6, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid, which is especially important for a healthy nervous system.”
Common Questions & Answers
Potential Health Benefits of Jackfruit
“Because of its rich nutrient content, jackfruit offers a variety of health benefits,” says Kristin Gillespie, RDN, a nutrition support dietitian for Option Care Health and an adviser for Exercise With Style in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Jackfruit can do the following.
Lower Inflammation in the Body
Promote Healthy Skin
Keep the Heart Healthy
Jackfruit and Weight Loss
“Incorporating jackfruit certainly does have the potential to help with weight loss,” Gillespie says.
Plus, eating jackfruit as a substitute for meat will save you calories. “It contains fewer calories than most meats,” Gillespie says. “When used as a meat substitute, it can naturally reduce caloric intake.”
“That said, jackfruit does contain a higher amount of calories per serving than other fruits and is composed mainly of carbohydrates, so it is important to monitor serving sizes so as not to overdo it,” Gillespie says.
How to Select and Store Jackfruit
“You can purchase jackfruit raw, canned, or packaged preseasoned, and it can be eaten raw or cooked,” says Kelsey Lorencz, RDN, of Saginaw, Michigan, the creator of the blog Graciously Nourished.
Brands will often do the heavy lifting for you, so all you need to do is pick up a package or a can of precooked jackfruit near other meat substitutes in the grocery store.
How to Cook Jackfruit, and 5 Recipes for Beginners
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. You can also easily blend ripe jackfruit into a smoothie. Here are five recipes to inspire you.
- Keep warm with Easy Vegan Jackfruit Curry.
- Ditch the pork and make BBQ Jackfruit Sandwiches With Avocado Slaw.
- Discover the sweet side of jackfruit with a Jackfruit Mango Smoothie.
- Put a meatless spin on Taco Tuesday with Easy Vegan Jackfruit Tacos.
- Mix together jackfruit, greens, quinoa, and a tasty sauce to make these Easy Jackfruit “Chicken” Quinoa Bowls.
Jackfruit Side Effects
“Jackfruit is generally considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts,” Gillespie says. But there are some people who should approach with caution. According to the Cleveland Clinic, you should avoid jackfruit if:
- You are allergic to latex or birch pollen, as you may also be allergic to jackfruit.
- You have kidney issues, such as chronic kidney disease or acute kidney failure, since the potassium in jackfruit could lead to the buildup of potassium in the blood, a condition known as hyperkalemia.
If you’re one of the many people who has started embracing meat-free meals, jackfruit should be on your radar. Its neutral flavor makes it a perfect partner for many sauces and spices, and its texture imitates pulled pieces of meat. Jackfruit delivers a handful of key nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium. That said, you’ll want to keep in mind that it’s not a protein powerhouse like other meat substitutes and is mainly composed of carbohydrates.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
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- Diet Tips to Help You Fight Inflammation. Cleveland Clinic. December 30, 2020.
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- Chart of High-Fiber Foods. Mayo Clinic. January 5, 2021.
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- Peas, Green, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt. U.S. Department of Agriculture.