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     Volume 6 Issue 25 | June 29, 2007 |

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A Meal in a Fruit

People either hate it or love it. The jackfruit, which we proudly call our national fruit is both filling and nutritious. In fact, almost all the parts of this prickly, rather ungainly looking fruit is edible. The succulent, yellow fruit is sweet and juicy and has many nutrients; when raw, the debris under the skin can be cooked and eaten as a curry; and all Bangalis know the delicious taste of the jackfruit seeds which are eaten roasted, mashed or thrown into fish, meat or seafood curries. But what are the specific nutrients inside this amazing (and rather pungent) fruit?

The English name `jackfruit' is derived from the Portuguese `jaca', which is derived from the Malayalam `chakka'. Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) is a species of tree of the mulberry family (Moraceae), native to southwestern India and Sri Lanka. Jackfruit is widely grown in South and Southeast Asia. It is the national fruit of Bangladesh and Indonesia. It is also grown in parts of central and eastern Africa, Brazil and Suriname.

The jackfruit root is a remedy for skin diseases and asthma. An extract of the root is taken to cure fever and diarrhoea. Jackfruit provides a good supply of proteins, carbohydrates and vitamins.

Jackfruit contains 38 per cent carbohydrates, 6.6 per cent proteins and 0.4 g fat, vitamins like A, C and B vitamins, and minerals like calcium, zinc and phosphorous. Its health benefits are wide-ranging from anti-cancer and antihypertensive to anti-ageing and anti-ulcer.

Delicacies can be prepared from every part of the fruit. Westerners generally find jackfruit most acceptable in the full-grown but unripe stage, when it has no objectionable odour.

The fruit at this time is simply cut into large chunks for cooking, the only handicap being its copious gummy latex that accumulates on the knife and the hands unless they are first rubbed with oil.

The fruit may be enjoyed raw or cooked (with coconut milk or otherwise); or made into ice cream, chutney, jam, jelly, paste or papad or canned in syrup made with sugar or honey with citric acid added.

Jackfruits are also a very good source of potassium, which helps to regulate your blood pressure.

The seeds of the jackfruit are very nutritious. They contain lignans, isoflavones, saponins, that are called phytonutrients and their health benefits are wide-ranging from anti-cancer to antihypertensive, anti-ageing, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, etc. Jackfruit seed powder has the ability to relieve discomfort due to indigestion.

Boiled Jackfruit seeds are a very tasty and nutritious snack. Boiled Jackfruit seeds can be used as an alternative to potatoes. Jackfruit seeds, which appeal to all tastes, may be boiled or roasted and eaten, or boiled and preserved in syrup like chestnuts. They can be canned in brine, in curry, and, like baked beans, in tomato sauce. They can also be included in curried dishes. Roasted, dried seeds are ground to make flour, which is blended with wheat flour for baking.

But its seeds are very nutritious ,it is a rich source of complex carbohydrate, dietary fiber, vitamins like A,B and C, and minerals like calcium, zinc, and phosphorous. Their health benefits are wide-ranging from anti-cancer to antihypertensive, anti-ageing, antioxidant, anti-ulcer, etc.


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