Indian ‘superfood’ jackfruit emerges as favourite of vegans and non-vegetarians worldwide

  • 1 week ago
The COVID-19 crisis caused a fear for chicken and other meats so people are switching to tender jack of all fruits.
Food researches predict that the simple spiky jackfruit could emerge as a nutritious staple crop as it is drought-resistant and requires little maintenance even as global warming wreaks havoc on agriculture.
A recent Al Jazeera report sourced from AFB news agency stated that now India, the world’s biggest producer of jackfruit, is capitalising on its growing popularity as a ‘superfood’ meat alternative - touted by chefs from San Francisco to London and New Delhi for its mea -like texture when unripe.
Green, spiky and with a strong, sweet smell, the bulky jackfruit has morphed from a back-yard nuisance in India's south coast region into the meat-substitute darling of both vegans and vegetarians in the West. And the shredded jackfruit has become a popular alternative to meat and is even used as a pizza topping.
A staple part of South Asia's diet for centuries, jackfruit was so abundant that tonnes of it went to waste every year. The jackfruit, which weighs 5kgs on average, has a waxy yellow flesh when ripe and is eaten fresh or used to make cakes, juices, ice creams and crisps. When unripe, it is added to curries or fried, minced and sauteed. 
In Kerala – India, the lockdown has caused a surge in demand for mature green jackfruit and seeds due to shortage of vegetables due to border restrictions. The boom has meant more and more jackfruit orchards have sprung up in the coastal state.
From his orchid in Kerala’s Thrissur district, Varghese Tharakkan said, “There are a lot of enquiries from abroad ... At the international level, the interest in jackfruit has grown manifold.”
“When I cut down my rubber trees everyone thought I had gone crazy. But the same people now come and ask me the secret of my success,” he adds. Tharakkan has not looked back since he switched from growing rubber to jackfruit on his land, and has a variety that he can cultivate year-round.
In southern Indian states alone the demand for jackfruit is now 100 metric tonnes every day during the peak season yielding a turnover of $19.8m a year. But there is rising competition from countries such as Bangladesh and Thailand.
Anu Bhambri, owner of owns a chain of restaurants in the United States and India, explains, “People love it. The jackfruit tacos have been a hit at each and every location. The jackfruit cutlet - every table orders it, it’s one of my favourites!”
Bhambri’s restaurants believe that even meat-eaters are becoming jackfruit converts and its not only vegetarians or vegans, even the meat-eaters, just love it.
James Joseph quit his job as a director at Microsoft after seeing Western interest in jackfruit ‘gaining momentum as a vegan alternative to meat’. 
“The COVID-19 crisis caused a fear for chicken and people switched to tender jackfruit. Global interest in veganism was already soaring pre-pandemic, buoyed by movements such as Meat Free Mondays and Veganuary, and with it, the business of alternative meats. You get a hard bite like meat - that's what is gaining popularity and like meat it absorbs the spices,” he added. 
His firm sells jackfruit flour which can be mixed with or used as an alternative to wheat and rice flour to make anything from burger patties to local classics such as idlis (Indian rice cakes).
A 2019 United Nations report titled ‘Concerns about health and the environment’ suggested that people are adopting to more of a plant-based diet replacements for chicken, beef, and other meat. As global warming wreaks havoc on agriculture, food researchers say jackfruit could emerge as a nutritious staple crop as it is drought-resistant and requires little maintenance.
The Summary: Jackfruit's newfound international fame is a huge turnaround for a plant that while used in local dishes, has long been viewed as a poor man’s fruit.
It is an exotic tropical fruit with a subtle sweet flavor that is consumed in many parts of the world. It has a subtle sweet and fruity flavor. It has been said to taste similar to a combination of fruits, including apples, pineapples, mangoes and bananas 
Each tree can yield as many as 150-250 fruits a season. It is quite healthy and can be eaten in a variety of ways. It provides a moderate amount of calories in addition to lots of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
A nutritional analysis found jackfruit as a meal is better than rice and bread for an average person who wants to control his blood sugar. It has a low glycemic index and provides some fiber, protein and antioxidants, all of which may promote better blood sugar control.
There are several potential health benefits of jackfruit that have been reported anecdotally but have not been proven by scientific evidence. But there are no major risks associated with eating jackfruit, with the exception of individuals who are allergic to it.
Jackfruit is quite versatile. It can be eaten raw, cooked, ripe or unripe and tastes great in a variety of sweet and savory dishes.

The Bottom Line

Jackfruit is very good for you for many reasons. It is high in nutrients and antioxidants and may have a number of health benefits, including improved blood sugar control.
You can easily incorporate jackfruit into your diet by eating it plain or in various dishes. It makes an excellent meat alternative in vegetarian and vegan recipes. Fresh jackfruit is easiest to find when it’s in season during the summer months, but you can find canned jackfruit in most grocery stores year-round.
Jackfruit is a major source of calories and carbs. One cup of sliced fruit provides the following nutrients: Calories: 155,Carbs: 40 grams, Fiber: 3 grams, Protein: 3 grams, Vitamin A: 10% of the RDI, Vitamin C: 18% of the RDI, Riboflavin: 11% of the RDI and Magnesium: 15% of the RDI.
Adding jackfruit to your diet is worth it as it is quite a healthy and unique food to experiment with, so why not give it a try?