Very few “food trends” have exploded in popularity quite as quickly as the humble jackfruit. High in protein and packed with plenty of vitamins, jackfruit has recently become popular with vegetarians thanks to its meat-like consistency when cooked. But what about jackfruit for those eating low-carb or keto? In this article, we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of eating jackfruit so you can decide for yourself if this tropical fruit deserves a spot in your kitchen.
What is jackfruit?
Jackfruit is a large fruit native to India, Southeast Asia, and South America. It resembles a large, prickly, green grapefruit when young. Jackfruit has been making headlines as an unprocessed and natural meat-alternative; many vegetarians describe the “meat” of the fruit as closely resembling the texture and consistency of pulled pork or chicken. The jackfruit is porous, meaning that it’s also particularly good at holding onto sauces, curries, and spices.
Ketogenic dieters and those who are eating low-carb will want to be careful when choosing their jackfruits, as there are two types of fruit typically available for purchase. Sweet ripe jackfruit (the kind most commonly available in Asian supermarkets) is bright orange in color—however, it contains more carbohydrates and sugars as it ripens. You’ll want to look for the bright green underripe “young” jackfruits; this type of fruit has the texture that vegetarians look for in a meat substitute, and fewer carbs and calories.
The benefits of eating jackfruit
Jackfruit can be a tasty meat alternative for vegetarians eating keto because the fruit is high in protein while also low in carbohydrates. However, the benefits of jackfruit don’t end with those who follow a plant-based diet. Jackfruit is a great source of fiber and vitamin C, which can contribute to healthy digestion and improved skin health. There is also some research that suggests that consuming jackfruit may be particularly beneficial to those managing diabetes. In one study, adults who consumed jackfruit extract after their meals showed significantly lower blood sugar levels.1 Another study found that jackfruit may have the potential to act as a long-term blood sugar regulator.2
Potential side effects
While jackfruit may come with a number of health and dietary benefits, there are still some drawbacks to its consumption. Because the jackfruit tree is native to Brazil, consumers who suffer from allergies to birch pollen should beware. Birch is a tree that is native to the area and fresh jackfruit shipments are often contaminated with pollen, which can cause a reaction. Additionally, it is recommended that men and women who suffer from chronic blood diseases talk to their doctor before adding jackfruit to their diet, as the fruit has been known to cause anticoagulation.3 Finally, some dieters may find the smell of the jackfruit (which has been described as “musky”) to be unappealing.
In conclusion, jackfruit can be a great addition to any keto-based diet—especially if you’re a vegetarian or vegan looking for a new source of protein. However, be careful to choose the right type of jackfruit…or you may be loading up on unexpected sugar!
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