Long beloved in the tropical regions in which it grows, Jackfruit entered the health and wellness scene a few years ago and wasted no time making major waves thanks to its neutral flavor and meaty texture. And as a sustainable, healthy, easy-to make meat substitute, jackfruit does have all the ingredients to be America’s next favorite superfood. A quick recipes search turns up delicious meat-free options like BBQ jackfruit, jackfruit tacos, and teriyaki jackfruit bowls. If there’s one thing in the world we’ve got no shortage of, it’s delicious-sounding jackfruit recipes.
Since you’re likely to see jackfruit offered as a meat substitute more and more, now’s a good time to get familiar with why it has meat eaters, vegans, and vegetarians buzzing. Read on for 5 facts you need to know about this tropical meat substitute.
1. Jackfruit may help balance blood sugar.
Did you know that ⅓ of Americans have pre-diabetes? It’s true. The good news is that blood sugar issues can be corrected with lifestyle choices such as reducing sugar and simple carb intake, exercising, and managing stress. In addition, certain foods appear to help balance blood sugar, thanks to it’s low glycemic load. One study found that adults who consumed jackfruit extract experienced improved blood sugar levels; another study in mice showed that jackfruit extract helped reduce fasting blood sugar levels and helped promote good blood sugar control in the long-term. It appears that jackfruit has a healthy balance of fiber, natural sugars, and protein that help protect blood sugar levels.
2. Jackfruit isn’t as high in protein as you think.
According to a study published in the International Journal of Food Science, 100 grams of ripe jackfruit only contains about 1.9 grams of protein. To compare, the same amount of chicken has upwards of 25 grams of protein. If you’re looking to infuse your diet with more protein but want to stay plant-based, chickpeas would be better options. They pack some serious protein and there are a ton of easy ways to turn a can of chickpeas into a delicious dinner.
3. Jackfruit is great for you — and the planet!
Unlike other meat substitutes like soy or tempeh, jackfruit is always unprocessed and contains only one ingredient, which means the jackfruit you eat is pretty close to what it’s like in its natural form. According to the Jackfruit Company, jackfruit is also incredibly sustainable. Why? Because jackfruit trees grow easily they do not require irrigation, pesticides, or herbicides. As a result almost all jackfruit is naturally organic. And especially when compared to meat, which one is the biggest contributors to greenhouse gases, jackfruit is clearly a great choice for the health of the planet.
4. Jackfruit is a healthy carb option.
Jackfruit isn’t all that high in protein, but it is high in healthy carbohydrates! In fact, over 90% of the calories in jackfruit come from carbohydrates, which makes it a great gluten-free, grain-free carbohydrate to incorporate into your diet. Substituting foods like jackfruit for grains may be a way to be healthier overall; after all, studies have linked the consumption of whole and refined grain intake to increased levels of inflammation, which can contribute to illnesses like arthritis, headaches, and even diabetes and heart disease.
5. Jackfruit is rich in B vitamins and vitamin C.
Jackfruit contains moderate amounts of vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin A, and manganese, but it is considered rich in vitamin C. And as we know, vitamin C is crucial for a healthy immune system. According to the same International Journal of Food Science study, jackfruit is also rich in B-complex vitamins and contains great amounts of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. This is important because B vitamins have almost endless importance in the body — from helping different enzymes do their jobs to releasing energy from carbohydrates to transporting oxygen around the body. And finally: While bananas typically get all the attention when it comes to potassium, jackfruit is another great source of this essential mineral. In fact, jackfruit has even been shown to help lower blood pressure in some studies.
So has jackfruit earned its new fame as the go-to tropical meat substitute of this decade? We think so. As long as you’re not relying on jackfruit for your daily dose of protein, it’s definitely a superfood worth keeping on the menu.