Jackfruit is a tropical tree fruit native to southwest India. It belongs to the Moraceae plant family. Research suggests that jackfruit may provide several health benefits. It is a healthy source of vitamin C and other essential nutrients.

The Moraceae plant family also includes mulberries, figs, and breadfruit.

A jackfruit is large, with a thick, yellow flesh and edible seeds and pods. The flesh has a sweet, distinctive flavor, which some people describe as a cross between banana and pineapple.

Due to its fibrous texture, people often use jackfruit flesh as a meat substitute in vegetarian or vegan dishes. This article explores some of the potential health benefits of jackfruit. It also looks into its nutritional contents, any risks and considerations, and how to add it to the diet.

Animal studies suggest that jackfruit seeds may help reduce levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raise levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, is a waxy deposit that can stick to the inner walls of arteries. As these deposits build up, they can restrict the flow of blood, which can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of a heart attack or stroke.

HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, helps remove LDL cholesterol from blood vessels and send it back to the liver.

A 2015 study investigated the effects of various jackfruit seed diets on cholesterol levels in rats.

Rats who ate a diet rich in jackfruit seeds had increased levels of HDL cholesterol and reduced levels of LDL cholesterol, compared with the rats who ate fewer seeds.

Jackfruit is a good source of potassium. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), foods rich in potassium can help reduce blood pressure.

Potassium lowers blood pressure by counteracting the effects of sodium and reducing tension in the walls of blood vessels.

The AHA recommends that healthy adults consume 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium a day. A cup of raw, sliced jackfruit contains 739 mg of potassium.

However, a potassium-rich diet can be harmful to people with kidney disease or any condition that alters how the body regulates potassium.

Jackfruit contains substances called phytochemicals, such as flavonoids, saponins, and tannins.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, many phytochemicals have antioxidant properties, which means that they may help to counter the effects of free radicals.

Free radicals are highly reactive molecules that occur naturally in the body and can damage cells. This damage, known as oxidative stress, may play a role in the development of several chronic diseases, including cancer.

Phytochemicals may also prevent new blood vessels from growing around cancerous cells. A lack of blood vessels reduces the cells’ blood supply and growth.

A 2017 study found that jackfruit seed extracts inhibited the growth of induced, ectopic blood vessels in chicken embryos.

The researchers noted that the effect may result from the combination of flavonoids, saponins, and tannins in the extracts and that jackfruit extract may have potential as a future anticancer therapy.

They concluded that further in-depth studies are necessary to confirm and better understand their findings.

The glycemic index (GI) is a system for rating how specific foods affect a person’s blood glucose levels.

Foods with higher GI scores are likelier to cause spikes in blood glucose than those with lower scores. The GI system can help people with diabetes plan their meals.

Jackfruit has an intermediate GI score, but other parts of the plant may help treat type 2 diabetes.

A 2011 study investigated the effect of jackfruit leaf extract in rats with induced diabetes. At the end of the study, the rats who had consumed jackfruit leaf extract had higher insulin levels and lower blood glucose levels than those who had eaten a control diet.

The researchers determined that jackfruit leaf extract contains flavonoids that may help prevent cell death in the pancreas, which is the organ that produces insulin.

A test-tube study from 2016 found that extract from the bark of the jackfruit tree contains chemicals that prevent the breakdown of fats and complex carbohydrates into sugars. The researchers suggested that the chemicals may be useful in managing diabetes.

However, confirming these effects will require future studies in humans.

Jackfruit is a good source of vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that is essential for a healthy immune system.

In addition, the body requires vitamin C to make a protein called collagen, which is vital for maintaining healthy skin, bones, and connective tissues, such as blood vessels and cartilage. Collagen is also important for wound healing.

According to a 2014 review, jackfruit contains substances with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that may also help promote wound healing.

A 2013 study investigated the wound-healing properties of jackfruit leaf extract on samples of pig skin. The researchers concluded that extracts from jackfruit leaves may promote wound healing.

Jackfruit, particularly the seeds, is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber can help lower LDL cholesterol levels and slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream, which can help prevent spikes in blood glucose after eating.

Research suggests that dietary fiber may also reduce a person’s risk of heart diseases, diabetes, and colon cancer.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that women consume 25 grams (g) and men 38 g of fiber per day.

Jackfruit seeds also contain prebiotics, which can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Jackfruit is rich in magnesium, a mineral linked with helping the body relax.

A 2021 review found limited evidence to support that taking magnesium supplements improves sleep in older adults. A study in 2019 concluded the use of the melatonin form of magnesium for 3 months did help treat insomnia.

The FDA recommends adults and children 4 years and older get 420 mg of magnesium daily. One cup of jackfruit contains about 48 mg.

Jackfruit contains nutrients that may help prevent sores in the stomach, or ulcers, from forming.

A 2019 review notes jackfruit contains numerous phytonutrients, which are plant-based compounds with antioxidant properties. They include lignins, isoflavones, and saponins.

In addition, the fruit is rich in fiber, which can help reduce acid in the stomach.

Jackfruit is a healthy source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and some other essential vitamins and minerals.

According to the Department of Agriculture, a cup of raw, sliced jackfruit contains:

  • 157 calories
  • 2.84 g of protein
  • 1.06 g of fat
  • 38.36 g of carbohydrates
  • 2.5 g of dietary fiber
  • 31.48 g of sugars
  • 48 mg of magnesium
  • 739 mg of potassium
  • 22.6 mg of vitamin C

According to a 2015 case report, a woman with a latex allergy went into anaphylactic shock, which is a severe allergic reaction, after eating jackfruit.

The authors suggest that this reaction may have resulted from the presence of latex-like proteins in jackfruit.

Other case reports suggest that consuming jackfruit can also trigger allergic reactions in people with birch pollen allergies.

However, allergic reactions to jackfruit are extremely rare.

Many specialty supermarkets sell fresh jackfruit. General grocery stores may sell canned or frozen jackfruit. Canned jackfruit may contain syrup or brine.

The flesh of unripe jackfruit is green, changing to yellow as it ripens. A person can eat the flesh of fresh, ripe jackfruit on its own or use it in a range of recipes, including desserts.

Also, many people use fresh, unripe jackfruit as a meat substitute in curries, pies, stir-fries, wraps, and other dishes.

To prepare fresh, unripe jackfruit:

  1. Cut the fruit into halves, then into smaller chunks, without removing the skin.
  2. Boil the chunks until the flesh is soft and has a stringy texture similar to pulled pork or chicken. This may take 30–60 minutes.
  3. Peel off the skin and remove the seeds and their pods.

Recipes for jackfruit include:

Who should not eat jackfruit?

Although rare, people with an allergy to latex or birch pollen could experience a reaction when eating or handling jackfruit.

Can you eat jackfruit raw?

Raw jackfruit can be eaten on its own or used in a variety of recipes.

What are the disadvantages of eating jackfruit?

Jackfruit has a short shelf life and can go off quickly. About 60% of a jackfruit is inedible.

Is jackfruit a superfood?

There is no standard definition for what makes a superfood. Generally, superfoods are low in calories and high in nutritional value. Jackfruit has many powerful antioxidants and nutrients that provide various health benefits.

Jackfruit is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fiber, and other important vitamins and minerals.

Also, research suggests that compounds in the flesh, seeds, and other parts of the plant may potentially treat or prevent several health conditions.

Jackfruit is a popular meat substitute. When cooked, the unripe flesh has a texture similar to chicken or pulled pork.

Jackfruit is safe and nutritious for most people. However, anyone with an allergy to latex or birch pollen should take caution when eating or handling the fruit.