Jackfruit is native to parts of South and Southeast Asia and is believed to have originated in the southwestern rain forests of the Western Ghats in the Indian subcontinent. It is the largest tree-borne fruit, reaching a weight of up to 77 lbs. Though it has been cultivated in India since 3,000 to 6,000 years ago, jackfruit came to the forefront when researchers looked at lesser known and underutilized crops that could potentially be valuable as human and animal food.
Recent years have seen increased interest on the part of consumers, researchers, and the food industries into how this fruit can help maintain health; and the role that it plays in the prevention and treatment of many illnesses. Research has found that jackfruits contain main compounds that have been known to prevent the growth of and/or kill cancer cells.
How Jackfruit Kills Cancer
Jackfruit has several phytonutrients such as lignans, saponins, and isoflavones. Phytonutrients are nutrients produced by plants to protect themselves from damaging environments. When we eat these plants, the phytonutrients also help our body’s defense mechanisms. Jackfruit has compounds that have antihypertensive, antioxidant, antiulcer, anti-aging, and anticancer properties.
- Lignans have anti-estrogenic effects in reproductive tissues that can be beneficial in preventing the hormone-associated cancers of the breast, uterus, ovary, and prostate.
- Isoflavones are also proven to reduce the risk of endometrial, prostate, and breast cancers.
- Saponins kill cancer cells by directly binding to cells as well as boosting white blood cell activity and preventing cell differentiation and proliferation.
- Lectins found in the fruit’s pulp have the ability to reduce the mutagenicity of carcinogens and combat the proliferation of cancer cells.
This tropical fruit also contains flavonoids, polyphenols, and carotenoids that help lower blood pressure, boost metabolism, fight stomach ulcers, and support nerve function. Polysaccharides in jackfruit can boost your immunity by interacting with white blood cells, including monocytes, T cells, polymorphonuclear lymphocytes, and macrophages.
Not just the fruit but different parts of the jackfruit tree can also be used for medicinal purposes. The wood has a sedative and abortifacient effect. The flowers of the jackfruit tree have been known to stop bleeding in open wounds, heal cracks in dry feet, and prevent ringworm infestations. The root is used to treat asthma, diarrhea, and skin diseases.
How to Use Jackfruit
There are many ways to use jackfruit. While people commonly have the sweet, yellow sections covering the seed, other parts of the fruit are also used to make curries and stir fried dishes. The seed can also be dried and added to curries or can be ground into a nutritious flour. When it’s still raw, the fruit can be used as a pork substitute. It absorbs the sauce quite well and develops a tender and moist texture once cooked.
However, do keep in mind that jackfruit has a very strong and pungent smell which some people may not like. It tastes like a cross between a mango and a pineapple. It may taste unlike anything you have had before but do try it for its unique flavor and texture.