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.”
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 may help with 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. Check out this list of 10 jackfruit recipes for plant-based diet beginners, or the five below for some inspiration:
- 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.
Editorial Sources and Fact-Checking
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- Ranasinghe RASN, Maduwanthi SDT, Marapana RAUJ. Nutritional and Health Benefits of Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.): A Review. International Journal of Food Science. January 6, 2019.
- Jackfruit, Raw. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2019.
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- Vitamin C. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. March 22, 2021.
- Diet Tips to Help You Fight Inflammation. Cleveland Clinic. December 30, 2020.
- Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the Link Between Nutrition and Skin Aging. Dermato-Endocrinology. July 1, 2012.
- Cosgrove MC, Franco OH, Granger SP, et al. Dietary Nutrient Intakes and Skin-Aging Appearance Among Middle-Aged American Women. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. October 2007.
- How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure. American Heart Association. October 31, 2016.
- Dietary Fiber: Essential for a Healthy Diet. Mayo Clinic. November 4, 2022.
- Chart of High-Fiber Foods. Mayo Clinic. January 5, 2021.
- Quagliani D, Felt-Gunderson P. Closing America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. July 7, 2016.
- Dietary Fiber. MedlinePlus. March 25, 2015.
- Pulled Pork. U.S. Department of Agriculture. July 29, 2021.
- Tran E, Dale HF, Jensen C, Lied GA. Effects of Plant-Based Diets on Weight Status: A Systematic Review. Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Obesity. September 30, 2020.
- Peas, Green, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, Without Salt. U.S. Department of Agriculture. April 1, 2019.
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