Breadnut (scientific name Artocarpus camansi) is an average-sized tree belonging to the mulberry family Moraceae. This herb has is origin in Papua New Guinea. This plant is related to the breadfruit tree and the inhabitants of its native regions use it in the form of a staple crop.
Artocarpus camansi or the breadnut tree grows moderately fast and has a solitary stem. This is an evergreen tree that usually grows up to a height of anything between 10 meters and 15 meters and usually the trunk of this tree is about 1 meter in diameter and sometimes even wider. Usually, the tree starts sending out branches after it has grown up to a height of 5 meters.
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The branches of breadnut create a canopy-like structure, whose diameter is roughly half of the height of the tree. Compared to its close relative, the breadfruit tree (A. altilis) or even dugdug (A. mariannensis), the branches of the breadnut tree are more open.
At its base, the breadnut tree forms buttresses, while the roots are spreading and grow above or somewhat under the soil surface. All the parts of the breadnut tree contain a white, sticky, milky sap (latex).
The breadnut tree bears alternate leaves that are large and measure anything between 40 cm and 60 cm in length. The leaves are averagely dissected having four to six pairs of lobes in addition to sinuses that are cut almost to the middle of the midrib. The new leaves on relatively younger trees may often be 76 cm long or sometimes even longer.
The leaves are compactly pubescent and have several white-hued or reddish white hairs on their upper as well as lower veins, under surface as well as petiole. The blade of the breadnut tree has a pale green hue with greenish veins. The bud is enclosed by two large green-hued stipules, whose color changes to yellow prior to dehiscing.
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The flowers of breadnut are monoecious in nature and they appear at the terminal of the branches. The male inflorescence appears first followed by the female inflorescence. The male flowers are shaped like clubs and measure a maximum of 3 cm across, while they may be anything between 25 cm and 35 cm in length or sometimes even longer.
On the other hand, the female inflorescence comprises a large number of reduced flowers (anything between 1500 and 2000) that are attached to a soft sponge-like core. Different from the flowers of the breadfruit tree, the inflorescences of the breadnut tree are free and do not fuse all along their length.
The fruits of breadnut are large syncarp that is very fleshy. They have an oval or ovoid shape and measure about 7 cm to 12 cm across and each fruit weighs roughly 800 grams. The color of the fruit's skin may vary from pale green to greenish-yellow when they are ripe.
The texture of these fruits is somewhat spiny that is attributed to the long, pointed, flexible tips of the plant's flowers. The pulp of the fruit is scanty and its hue changes of yellow-whitish when ripened. They have a sweet flavour and aroma when ripe.
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Each breadnut fruit encloses about 12 to 150 seeds that may be flattened or rounded. The seeds are thin and measure roughly 2.5 cm in length. The external seed coat has a pale brown color and is ornate with darker veins. Each seed weight anything between 7 grams to 10 grams and make up about 30 percent to 50 percent of the total weight of the fruit.
It is very easy to distinguish breadnut from its immediate relative, breadfruit (A. altilis). Breadnut bears extremely spiny fruits that have scanty pulp and enclose several large, thin, pale brown seeds.
Often breadnut fruits have been considered to be a variety of breadfruit with numerous seeds. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning here that breadfruit is an entirely different species that has its origin in its seeded ancestor, breadnut, which grew in the wild.
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Breadnuts are packed with valuable amino acids. One essential amino acid contained by these seeds is histidine, which is necessary for our body to promote sexual incitement. Hence, consuming histidine contained in breadnut is useful for stimulating sexual activities.
At the same time, breadnut histidine is also said to possess analgesic or pain alleviating properties and is especially beneficial for people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. In addition, it is also useful in reducing allergic reactions, especially in the prophylaxis of low red blood cells (erythrocytes) as well as the hemoglobin levels in the blood.
There are a number of other health benefits of breadnut histidine. It helps to encourage the dilation of blood vessels and, as a result, it is believed to help in lowering the potential risks of developing heart attacks.
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In addition to the valuable nutrients mentioned above, breadnut also contains very high amounts of vitamin C, which is a naturally occurring antioxidant. In fact, it has been proved that vitamin C possesses a number of protective as well as healing properties.
Normally, vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and it occurs naturally in breadnuts as well as all citrus fruits. This nutrient is useful in building as well as reinforcing immune system, as it attacks the nucleus of invading viruses. At the same time, it combats the viruses till the time they are completely eliminated.
Moreover, ascorbic acid also helps in destroy the detrimental free radicals that are formed as a by-product of the oxidation process. Ascorbic acid also helps the immune system to remain functional with a view to combat bacteria, viruses and the permeating microbes.
Breadnut is also packed with the essential micronutrient manganese, which is extremely helpful for the human body. However, our body requires manganese in very small amounts. It has been established that manganese has been found to regulate the levels of blood glucose in our body.
At the same time, manganese also supports the usual performance of the pancreas, as it stimulates regular as well as the necessary insulin secretion in order to sustain as well as also break down sugar inside our body.
Manganese also helps to regulate the levels of blood sugar, especially when it drops below the usual levels. Therefore, it is advisable that people who are diabetic should intake adequate levels of manganese to ensure that their blood sugar levels remain stable.
Aside from their therapeutic applications to treat a variety of health conditions, breadnuts also have some culinary uses. Breadnut plants are a vital crop in New Guinea, where people grow breadnut in the form of a staple crop. Normally, people there eat the fruit when it is still unripe.
They cut the fruits into thin slices and boil them in soups. Since the seeds are packed with valuable protein, but contain very less amount of fat, they have great commercial value in places like the Caribbean, South America and Central America. They are also favoured because their flavour is somewhat similar to that of chestnuts.
Therefore, these seeds can be consumed after roasting, used as canned food or even processed to make butter, paste, oil and flour. An oil extracted from breadnuts is loaded with unsaturated fatty acid and this oil may be an excellent source of fat for human consumption.
Generally, you can find breadnut trees in areas having tropical climatic conditions, especially in low-lying areas at elevations of 0 meters to 1,550 meters (0 feet to 5,085 feet) above the sea level. They are also usually found growing naturally in flooded riverbanks as well as in freshwater swamps.
These plants grow and thrive best in places having an average annual temperature between 15°C and 40°C (59°F and 104°F), particularly where the soil is deep and well drained and their pH ranges between neutral to alkaline.
Breadnuts are valued for their very high nutritional content. They are loaded with all the nutrients essential for our body and its optimal functioning. Some of the nutrients contained by breadnuts include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B-complex, amino acids, dietary fiber, proteins, potassium, manganese, carbohydrates, calcium, iron and zinc.
These seeds are an excellent natural source of protein comprising anything between 13 percent and 20 percent of this vital nutrient. On the other hand, compared to other similar nuts like Brazil nuts, almond and macadamia nuts, breadnuts contain very low amounts of fat, just about 6 percent to 29 percent.
The primary amino acids enclosed by these seeds include isoleucine, leucine, methionine and serine. The fat obtained from breadnuts has a pale yellow hue and is in the form of a viscous liquid when stored at room temperature. The typical odour of breadnut fat is very akin to that extracted from peanuts.
The chemical number as well as the physical properties of the fat extracted from breadnut are the same as those contained by olive oil, making it highly nutritious. These seeds are also an excellent natural source of a number of essential minerals. They also contain more niacin than nearly all other nuts.