Jackfruit

Artocarpus heterophyllus

Herbs gallery - Jackfruit

Common names

  • Jackfruit
  • Jack Tree
  • Jak
  • Simply Jack

The jackfruit tree is known by several other names, such as jakfruit, jack tree or at times just as jack or jak. The jackfruit tree is a species belonging to the Artocarpus genus, which is a member of Moraceae or the mulberry family. This plant species has its origin in south as well as Southeast Asia, especially in the rain forests of southwest India, which presently comprise the states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. In fact, this species is best suited to the climatic conditions prevailing in tropical lowlands. The fruit of jackfruit tree is considered to be the largest fruit borne by any tree. Some jackfruits may weigh as much as 35 kg (80 pounds) and measure 90 cm (35 inches) long and 60 cm (20 inches) across.

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In the tropical areas of south and Southeast Asia, which include India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Cambodia, the jackfruit tree is not only cultivated extensively, but its fruit is very popular. Currently, jackfruit tree is also grown in other tropical regions of the globe. It is found all over Africa, for instance in Mauritius, Madagascar, Cameroon, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, as well as Príncipe and São Tomé. In addition, this species is also found growing across Brazil, the Caribbean nations like Jamaica, and west-central regions of Mexico. In fact, Bangladesh has declared jackfruit as its national fruit.

The flavour of ripe jackfruit is very sweet. It is also very tasty. After you open a ripened jackfruit, you will see pods that have a bright yellow hue. When the fruit is unripe, its color is green and can be used as a delectable vegetable to prepare various dishes.

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Parts used

Fruit, latex, leaves, root, seeds.

Uses

Aside its use as a vegetable when raw and a tasty, sweet fruit when ripened, jackfruit also has several therapeutic uses. The root of the jackfruit tree is known to be useful for treating a range of skin disorders. Since jackfruit is an outstanding source of natural vitamin C, consumption of this fruit helps to protect us against bacterial and viral infections. In addition, vitamin C is also useful for reinforcing our immune system by supporting the functioning of leukocytes (white blood cells). Consuming a cup of jackfruit can help to provide our body with a considerable amount of this potent antioxidant.

Apart from its vitamin C content, jackfruit also contains rich amounts of a number of phytonutrients including isoflavones, aslignans and saponins, which are known to possess anti-carcinogenic as well as anti-aging properties. All the phytonutrients mentioned here may be useful in eliminating the detrimental free radicals from the body. Free radicals are responsible for several ailments, including cancer. These phytonutrients also inhibit cell degeneration, thereby protecting us from various degenerative diseases.

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In addition to the therapeutic properties of jackfruit discussed above, it is also known to possess anti-ulcer properties. Therefore, consuming this fruit may help in treating ulcers as well as different problems related to the digestive system. Moreover, it contains elevated amounts of dietary fiber, which helps to prevent constipation, while ensuring smooth and healthy bowel movements. The dietary fiber present in jackfruit also protects us from colon mucous membrane by means of eliminating all carcinogenic substances from the colon (large intestine).

Jackfruit also contains sufficient amounts of vitamin A, a potent nutrient that is said to be good for the health of our skin and eyes. Vitamin A is also useful in putting off problems related to vision, for instance night blindness and macular degeneration.

It is said that consumption of jackfruit provides us with plenty of energy, as it contains simple sugars such as fructose and sucrose. These simple sugars boost our energy levels almost instantly. While jackfruit is very rich in energy boosting substances, it does not enclose cholesterol or any saturated fats. Hence, it is a healthy fruit that most people can enjoy.

Jackfruit also contains the essential mineral potassium, which is useful in lowering high blood pressure, thereby lessening the chances of suffering a heart attack and stroke. Hence, jackfruit consumption may prove to be beneficial for people with hypertension.

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It has been found that the root of jackfruit tree is beneficial for people suffering from asthma. To treat this condition, you need to boil the jackfruit root and drink it. Alternatively, you may also use the extract of jackfruit root orally to treat asthma.

Jackfruit also contains adequate amounts of magnesium. This essential mineral is vital for absorbing calcium. Magnesium also works with calcium to make the bones stronger, thereby preventing disorders related to bones, for instance osteoporosis.

The iron content in jackfruit helps to prevent conditions like anemia, while improving the blood flow throughout our body. This fruit also contains copper, which is known to play a vital role in thyroid metabolism. This mineral is especially useful in promoting hormone production as well as their absorption by the body. In fact, jackfruit contains loads of this micro nutrient.

As discussed earlier, it has been found that the root of jackfruit tree is effective in treating asthma. In order to control asthma, you need to boil the root to extract the elevated nutrients contained by it and drink the solution. In addition, the root extract of jackfruit tree is also beneficial for the health of our skin, as it is effective in treating various skin disorders. Moreover, this root extract of jackfruit is also said to help in curing fever and diarrhea.

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The leaves, latex, root and even the seeds of jackfruit tree offer various health benefits, which are discussed briefly below.

Latex: Roughly all parts of the jackfruit tree yield white, sticky latex when they are injured. The latex of jackfruit tree can be mixed with vinegar to cure glandular swelling, abscesses and even snake bites.

Leaves: The leaves of jackfruit tree can be used to prepare an herbal tea. Drinking this tea can cure fever as well as treat boils and various skin diseases. In addition, you can heat the leaves of jackfruit tree and apply them directly onto any wound to get rapid relief.

Seeds: Sometimes the roasted seeds of ripe jackfruit are used in the form of an aphrodisiac.

Root: The extract of jackfruit tree root is useful for treating a number of health conditions. It is effective for curing fever, skin disorders and diarrhea. In addition the root of this tree is an excellent remedy of those enduring asthma.

Culinary uses

Jackfruit has extensive use in the cuisines of South as well as Southeast Asian nations.

Ripened jackfruit is not only succulent, but also sweet and has a delicate flavour. Apart from consuming ripe jackfruit raw, it can also be used to prepare various dishes like cakes, and custards. In Indonesia people blend ripe jackfruit with shaved ice to prepare a dish called es teler, while people in the Philippines prepare halo-halo with the ripened fruit. Similarly, in India, an ice cream chain store named "Naturals" sells jackfruit flavoured ice creams when it is season for the fruit to ripen.

Sometimes the arils of ripe jackfruit are fried or freeze-dried. Apart from being seeded, they are also dried out and sold in the form of jackfruit chips.

Even the seeds of ripened jackfruits are edible and can be consumed in various ways. Their flavour is sweet and milky. You can consume the seeds after boiling, baking or roasting them. The flavour of roasted jackfruit seeds can be compared to that of chestnuts. You can boil or roast the seeds and consume them as snacks. Alternatively, you may also use them to prepare desserts. In south India, people prepare a conventional breakfast dish with jackfruit seeds. They use the fruit along with rice to make a dish locally known as idlis. They also make use of the jackfruit tree leaves to wrap the ingredients for steaming. In fact, they sometimes also prepare jackfruit dosas, another traditional dish, by grinding the flesh of jackfruit together with the batter.

Constituents

In addition to its pleasant flavour, jackfruit also contains high concentrations of several vital nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin. It is also loaded with a number of essential minerals like calcium, iron, potassium and others.

Jackfruit also encloses a number of phytonutrients such as isoflavones, lignans and saponins that offer an assortment of health benefits. The phytonutrients enclosed by jackfruit possess anti-hypertensive, anti-carcinogenic, anti-aging and anti-ulcer properties. Hence, these phytonutrients are capable of preventing the carcinogenic cells from forming inside the body. At the same time, they are helpful in lowering high blood pressures, combating ulcers in the stomach and retard cell degeneration, thereby making the skin glow and look youthful.

Side effects and cautions

People who are susceptible to allergic reactions owing to birch pollen may also suffer from allergies when they consume jackfruit. In addition, consumption of excessive jackfruit may result in the coagulation of blood or condensation of blood.

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