Durian

Durio zibethinus

Herbs gallery - Durian

Durian is the fruit produced by various tree species that belong to the genus Durio. Altogether there are 30 recognized species of Durio and no less than nine among them bear fruits that are edible. Presently, only the fruit of the species Durio zibethinus is available commercially on the international market. Edible fruits of other Durio species are only sold in the markets where the trees grow.

Several people in Southeast Asia consider durian to be the "king of fruits".This fruit is characterized by its large size, potent odour as well as its awesome thorn-covered exterior. Durian can grow as big as 30 cm (12 inches) in length and 15 cm (6 inches) across. A typical durian fruit weighs anything between one kilogram and three kilograms (2 lbs and 7 lbs). The shape of this fruit varies from being round to oblong, while the color of its outer shell may vary from green to brown. The color of the fruit's flesh differs from light yellow to red, subject to the Durio species.

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The edible flesh of durian has a typical odour, which is not only strong, but also penetrating even while the husk in unbroken. To some people, the odour of durian is pleasing sweet and fragrant. However, most other people consider the odour to be overpowering as well as revolting. The odour of durian often evokes reactions that vary from profound appreciation to extreme loathing. In fact, some people have even described the smell of this fruit as similar to that of decomposed onions, raw sewage and turpentine. The persistence of durian has led many hotels to banish the fruit. In fact, many public transportation systems in Southeast Asia have also banned the fruit for its strong smell.

Although durian has its origin in Southeast Asia, people in the West have been familiar with this fruit for almost six centuries. The flesh of this fruit can be eaten at different stages of its maturity. In addition, durian is used for flavoring an assortment of spicy as well as sweet edibles in the cuisines of Southeast Asian region.

The trees belonging to Durio species are usually large and grow up to a height of anything between 25 meters and 50 meters (80 feet and 164 feet), subject to the species. The leaves of these trees are evergreen and their shape varies from oblong to elliptic. Usually the length of the leaves vary from 10 cm to 18 cm (4 inches to 7 inches). The flowers of durian appear in clusters of 30 to 40 small blooms on large branches or even on the trunk of the tree. Every flower has a calyx (sepals) and five petals. The number of petals may seldom be four or six. Every year, the durian trees have one or two flowering and fruiting seasons and the timing generally varies depending on a number of things - species or cultivars, and localities. Generally, a durian tree produces fruit just after four or five years of existence. You can find the durian fruit hanging from any branch or even the trunk of the tree and after pollination it takes about three months to ripen.

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Durian is essentially a seasonal fruit; normally the season lasting from June to August. The fruiting season of durian coincides with that of other tropical fruits like mango, jackfruit and mangosteen.

In addition, to dietary fiber, durian is also loaded with vitamin B1 and it meets roughly 33 percent of our daily requirement of this nutrient. Apart from vitamin B1, durian also provides use with about 24 percent of our daily requirement of vitamin C and vitamin B6. This fruit also contains trace minerals like potassium, magnesium and manganese in significant amounts fulfilling anything between 8 percent and 15 percent of our daily need of these elements. The elevated nutrition density of this fruit results in several vital health benefits.

Health benefits

Similar to several other fruits of the tropical region, for instance avocado, banana and jackfruit, durian provides us with elevated levels of energy, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 100 grams of fresh durian fruit provides us with 147 calories.

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The flesh of durian is soft as well as easily digestible. It is composed of simple sugars such as sucrose and fructose which replenish the energy levels of our body and, at the same time, re-invigorate it instantly. Although the fat content of durian is higher compared to many other fruits, durian does not contain any saturated fat or cholesterol.

Durian is loaded with dietary fiber, making the fruit an excellent bulk laxative. The fiber content of this fruit helps in protecting the mucous membrane of the colon by lessening its exposure to toxic substances. In addition, the dietary fiber in durian is also useful for binding as well as eliminating chemicals that have the potential of causing cancer from the gut.

The fruits of trees belonging to Durio genus are also a wonderful resource of B-vitamins, which are extremely beneficial for our health. In fact, the presence of vitamins belonging to B-complex groups is a very uncommon attribute for fruits. The B-vitamins contained by durian include pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), thiamine (vitamin B1), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3). All these vitamins are necessary for our body, since it cannot produce them and needs them to be replenished from external sources.

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In addition, durian also encloses significant amount of essential minerals like copper, magnesium, iron and manganese. Our body employs manganese present in durian in the form of a co-factor for an antioxidant enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Similarly, our body requires copper for producing red blood cells (erythrocytes), which transport oxygen to different parts. Iron is essential for formation of red blood cells.

Basically, the immune system is a biological structure as well as processes that shield the body from various infections and diseases. This system is extremely vital for the health and survival of any organism. The primary role of the immune system is to differentiate between the healthy cells of our body and the invading pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, parasites, free radicals as well as other agents that are detrimental for our health. The immune system also spots and eliminates the detrimental pathogens and, by this means, safeguards our health.

The immune system needs antioxidants such as vitamin C to keep it healthy and maintain its normal functioning. Durian encloses elevated quantities of vitamin C, which protects the systems from detrimental free radicals, which are a product of reaction between specific molecules and oxygen. Therefore, an optimal level of this vitamin in the body helps to clean as well as purify the systems of our body and ensure that they function effectively. The role of vitamin C can be compared to a servicing engineer, who repairs our electrical gadgets. Hence, vitamin C offers protection against common health conditions such as flu and colds. In addition, vitamin C is also effectual in protecting us from viral attacks and infections.

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One of the very common medical conditions today is anemia, which decreases the hemoglobin level in the blood. Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen to all different parts of the body and any deficiency of this substance may result in headaches, fatigue, constant drowsiness, breathlessness and even insomnia. Anemia is especially dangerous for women during pregnancy, as this condition may not only result in abnormality of the foetus, but also lead to its death.

It has been found that durian fruits enclose elevated amounts of folic acid or folate. Our body requires folate to produce hemoglobin. In addition, folate or folic acid encourages blood production and, at the same time, augments the functioning of the different organs of the body by means of proper distribution of oxygen to all the parts. Therefore, folic acid may help to prevent anemia to a great extent. While the iron content of durian is relatively low, whatever amount is present in this fruit helps in the production of hemoglobin, thereby providing relief from anemia.

Apart from iron, durian also encloses several trace minerals, such as calcium and potassium. While the calcium content of durian is somewhat low, potassium present in this fruit supplies us with roughly 9 percent of the body's daily need for this mineral. Although calcium forms the most abundant as well as vital element of our bones, potassium actually regulates the distribution and deposition of this mineral. Any deficiency of potassium in our body will result in excretion of most of the calcium we consume through foods or supplements. This way, the ingested calcium goes waste, thereby resulting in a calcium deficit in our body.

Precisely speaking, potassium is essential for developing healthy bones, because this mineral ensures that the ingested calcium is not liquefied and directly released into the bloodstream excessively, instead of being deposited in the bones. In addition, potassium also helps to maintain a balance of the sodium level in our body, thereby decreasing the loss of calcium via the kidneys. In this way, potassium helps to directly augment the body's ability to assimilate calcium, thereby improving the health of the bones and preventing bone-related conditions like osteoporosis and others.

Durian also encloses amino acids called tryptophan, which is a natural substance that induces sleep. Our body also requires tryptophan for serotonin and melatonin metabolism. These are neuro-chemicals that help in uplifting our mood. Findings of several studies reveal that tryptophan is useful for treating as well as alleviating anxiety, appetite, stress and depression. In addition, tryptophan is also being employed to cure insomnia, which is at times a direct outcome of the psychological disturbances mentioned above.

It has also been established that tryptophan works to inhibit the neuron transmissions to the brain and, in this way it helps to calm the brain and, at the same time, provides relief from continuous thoughts. When the brain is not burdened with interpreting transmissions, it unwinds and this state of the mind helps to induce sleep. Therefore, people suffering from insomnia are encouraged to take a carbohydrate rich meal containing tryptophan, since this natural chemical helps to release insulin, which, in turn, clears the amino acids that actually compete with tryptophan. This helps to make tryptophan further effectual.

The female sex hormone estrogen helps in conceiving. It has been found that nearly all women suffering from infertility generally have a very low level of estrogen in their body. However, the level of estrogen can be increased with supplements, pills and injections. Findings of a number of studies have shown that durian encloses elevated levels of estrogen and, hence, it can be used as a herbal remedy for infertility in women.

While durian contains several vital substances essential for our health, this fruit is cholesterol-free and, hence, can be highly effectual when incorporated in weight loss programs. Obesity as well as unhealthy weight enhance the chances of miscarriage throughout pregnancy. Women suffering from infertility will find durian beneficial. They can consume this fruit in moderate and recommended amounts, but, of course, after consulting their physician.

The dietary fiber in durian fruit provides roughage, which is vital for absorbing fats, thereby making it easy for stools to pass. In fact, dietary fiber found in some foods is insoluble and is particularly useful in putting off constipation by means of adding bulk to stools. At the same time, it makes the stools softer. People enduring chronic constipation or suffering from the painful condition called piles often should consider incorporating fibrous fruits such as durian in their daily diet. They will find such fruits extremely beneficial.

In addition to dietary fiber, durian also contains elevated amounts of B complex vitamins like vitamin B1 and vitamin B3, which help to perk up appetite and, at the same time, promotes healthy digestion. Durian is also known to promote metabolism. This, in turn, results in better assimilation of nutrients in our body.

Selection and how to store it

The durian trees are indigenous to the Southeast Asian countries. Durian, the fruit of this tree, is available commercially throughout the East-Asian region. This fruit is also imported to Europe and the United States. However, people have different preferences about consuming the ripened fruit. Some people like the durian somewhat ripened, when its flavour is tart; there are others who may like to eat the squashy and over-ripened fruit. People generally collect the ripened fruits that drop to the ground and sell them at markets.

While purchasing the ripened fruit in the stores, it is advisable that you opt for those that have a firm stalk. While durian is quite affordable in its natural habitat, elsewhere the fruit is among the costly fruits. While the shelf life of ripened durian is quite short, you can store it in a refrigerator for some days.

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