I am a Nutritional Powerhouse - Part 1 Author - Sonia Velarsan, RD
I am a giant tropical fruit,
Green and spiky, a big brute.
In the kitchen, I can transform,
For curry or dessert, I perform.
My Ayurvedic qualities are grand,
Astringent, sweet, and cooling, understand?
Anti-inflammatory and full of fiber,
For digestion and health, I'm a provider.
Guess who I am, this fruit, I dare
A nutritional powerhouse beyond compare!!
India is home to many native foods, amongst which one stands out due to its size: the giant, green, prickly, and smelly (to some appetizing, to others aversive!) jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus). Anecdotally referred to as the "poor man's fruit," the jackfruit finds mention in both ancient medical texts and folklore. Ripe Jackfruit is a summer fruit and like most summer fruits, is overlooked due to the abundance of another yellow fruit, the mango.
According to Ayurveda, in ripe Jackfruit the dominant rasas are sweet (Madhura) and astringent (Kashaya), while the dominant gunas are unctuous (Snigdha) and heavy (Guru). The mango, depending on variety, has a dominant rasa of sweet (Madhura) and sour (Amla) with similar gunas as jackfruit. Both are rich in sugars (mango more than jackfruit typically) and several micronutrients. So, which should we eat?
It’s the Ayurvedic property of veerya (thermal property) that gives us a clue. Mango and jackfruit differ in their ayurvedic impact because mango is ushna (heating) and jackfruit is sheeta (cooling).
Ayurveda encourages to enjoy both in season and to choose your portion size according to your dosha dominance. Heating foods in the hot summer would aggravate pitta dosha. Although both are madhura, the sour nature of mango coupled with its ushna veerya make it unsuitable in large quantities for pitta individuals. Pitta individuals, who tend to have a fiery nature, may experience increased internal heat when consuming mango excessively - mouth ulcers are one sign of excess heat. But this individual can handle larger amounts of ripe jackfruit without much discomfort: the kashaya and madhura rasa along with sheeta veerya, make it an ideal fruit for pitta-dominant individuals. Vata-dominant individuals can indulge more in mango than pitta-dominant individuals. Kapha dominant individuals should moderate intake of both fruits.
From a nutritional standpoint, jackfruit is a wonderful addition to a seasonal diverse diet. It is rich in vitamin C and B-complex groups of vitamins such as pyridoxine, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid. It’s a good source of minerals like potassium and magnesium which we lose in sweat which increases in hot weather (2). It’s also a good source of dietary fiber, aiding digestion and promotes a healthy gut (3,6). Jackfruit contains bioactive compounds, including flavonoids and phytonutrients, which exhibit potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. (4,5)
So what should you eat? If you are still confused, fall back on a Kannada proverb.
“When hungry, eat jackfruit; when full, eat mango!”
In part 2, we will discuss the properties of unripe jackfruit and jackfruit seeds. Yes, they are edible too!
Curious about how traditional knowledge and modern nutrition can be woven for the personalization of dietary practices?
References and Research:
Cha. Su 27/143
Mushumbusi DG. Production and characterization of Jackfruit jam (Doctoral dissertation, Sokoine University of Agriculture).
Hettiaratchi UP, Ekanayake S, Welihinda J. Nutritional assessment of a jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) meal. J Food Sci. 2013;78(8):H1263-1267. doi:10.1111/1750-3841.12234
Pradhan R, Medhi B. Anti-inflammatory effects of natural products. Inflammopharmacology. 2017;25(1):1-76. doi:10.1007/s10787-016-0301-4
Silva JRA, Andrade BDLA, Barbosa LCO, et al. Phenolic profile, antioxidant activity, and in vitro antiproliferative effect of Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.) fruit pulp against breast cancer cells. J Med Food. 2016;19(7):655-663. doi:10.1089/jmf.2016.0004
Biswas S, Haldar PK, Ghosh AK, et al. Comparative study on the antioxidant activity of methanolic extracts of different parts of Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.