Jackfruit: what it is, how to eat it and beneficial properties

Jackfruit: what it is, how to eat it and beneficial properties


A gigantic fruit, rich in fiber and mineral salts that make it one of the new super foods to all intents and purposes . It comes from the East and has a record: being the largest tree fruit in the world. The jackfruit  (scientific name  heterophyllus artocarpus ), also known as  giaca  or  jako , is an exotic fruit that is still not particularly known in Europe, native to India and the countries of South East Asia. Remarkable nutritional properties and low fat content also make it perfect as an energizing food for sportsmen and as foodvegetable protein, appreciated in vegan diets.

Jackfruit – what is it?

The scientific name of Jackfruit is Artocarpus heterophyllus, a tropical plant of the Moraceae family (like the well-known mulberry and fig trees in the Mediterranean area) which is cultivated for its fruit, called iaca  (or also iacone due to its enormous size), derived from the Portuguese  jaca. On the market it is found under the English name of jackfruit, and arrives in European shops in cans, rarely as fresh fruit. The tree is native to the eastern Himalayas (India), although today its diffusion reaches the whole of Southeast Asia, but also the northern coast of Australia, the Atlantic coast of Brazil and other tropical countries.

The fruit looks like a large oval that can even exceed 40 cm in diameter and weigh as much as 30 kg . It is a large fruit which is actually a set of single fruits (it can contain up to 500, which correspond to the seeds), i.e. the bulbous pulp that envelops a seed, which is also edible (only if cooked). The color of the ripe skin is dark yellow, that of the pulp is generally deep yellow, but also orange. The taste is very aromatic and perfumed. A set of flavors that are close to apple and pineapple with a delicious  vanilla aftertaste .

A curiosity derives precisely from the flavor that this fruit takes on once cooked, which is very close to that of roast pork . Lately  the jack fruit has been appreciated by those who observe a vegan diet , being a good substitute for meat both in terms of nutrition and flavour.

Did you know that…

In the West, jackfruit is a rare fruit, which is why its price is very high. A medium-sized fruit (10 kg) can cost more than one hundred euros. In Asia, on the other hand, where the availability of this super food is high due to the abundant crops , it is a poor and precious fruit for the subsistence of many families. Being very protein and substantial fruits, and large in size, they guarantee the nutritional needs. Another curiosity lies precisely in the veneration of this fruit as if it were good luck: in Bangladesh it is one of the national symbols, while in southern India it is even considered sacred.

Beneficial properties

Jackfruit is often considered a super food due to the nutritional characteristics it boasts. The pulp contains a fair amount of calories ( 95 kcal per 100 g) but is low in fat (0.6 g and no cholesterol), has good antioxidant properties (due to the content of flavonoids and carotenoids ), and is rich in    B vitamins (especially vitamin B6 , and vitamin B1 ) and C , which make it beneficial for the immune system and skin healthand of the eyes . The sugar and protein content make this fruit very energizing, therefore suitable for the diet of sports subjects and athletes. Good supply of mineral salts, such as: potassium , magnesium , iron and calcium .

It contains a high concentration of dietary fiber which makes it an ideal food for colon health , correct intestinal transit, against constipation and with a laxative effect . The seeds – which are only to be eaten cooked – have a fair amount of protein .



Use in the kitchen

In European cuisines, the consumption of Jackfruit is not common at all. There are ethnic shops and organic food markets that sell this fruit, but it is not so easy to find. Although it is considered one of the most popular meat substitutes , in Italy it is not widespread at all and it is possible to find it almost exclusively online,  in  a sweet , syruped and packaged version . Its use in the kitchen is based on the fresh or cooked pulp of the ripe fruit. The young and unripe fruits are sautéed in a pan and cooked as vegetables and not fruits, while the seeds are boiled as if they were chestnuts , orfried like chips . The pulp, as for pineapple, papaya or mango , is processed, after having emptied the rough and hard skin, and put in syrup. In some countries, the juice is fermented to make an  alcoholic beverage . Other foods such as flour ,  jams , and fruit juices can also be obtained from the Jackfruit.



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