Did you have avocados? Tired of turmeric? If so, there is a new and even more exotic health food product in town: Jackfruit. Gourmets were thrilled with this fibrous, fleshy fruit that – when cooked – has a consistency that is strangely like meat.
From a jackfruit pork sandwich to a jackfruit biryani, British celebrity chefs have added their menu. Now prefabricated Jackfruit dishes are stocked by Sainsbury's and Waitrose, Starbucks and Pizza Express.
Still, many buyers have had to scratch their heads at this new culinary must-have. Home-grown in southwest India, Jackfruit is the largest tree fruit in the world and usually weighs more than a baby – between 10 and 25 pounds.
From a jackfruit pork sandwich to a jackfruit biryani, British celebrity chefs have added their menus (photo).
The massive, elongated oval fruits have a bumpy, green appearance that turns brown and develops a strong, unpleasant odor when ripe. Inside, the bright yellow meat smells sweet and has a taste that is compared to a blend of mango and pineapple.
However, it is the unique sinewy nature of the fruit when it is immature, which has made it a meat alternative of the moment.
At this stage, the meat absorbs all tastes, which means it can replace meat in a variety of popular dishes. But is it actually much better for you than the real thing?
You are actually better off if you have an orange
As with all fruits, if you have an 80g fist-sized portion of jackfruit – the pulp is sold in pieces – this is one of the recommended 5 times a day.
However, one serving contains only 11 or 13 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C, which is essential for helping the body shape and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels and skin. This means that oranges are four times richer.
Online food claims jackfruit is a good source of fiber that can be used for healthy digestion. However, it contains only moderate amounts – 1.2 g per serving, just like apples, but less than strawberries or melons. It is recommended to consume 30 g of fiber per day, although most of us only get half of it.
Jackfruits Amount of Antioxidants – Substances that help prevent cell damage that is thought to contribute to diseases like cancer and heart disease are also not that impressive. For example, carotene levels are lower than for nectarines and mangoes.
However, the fruit is a very good source of antihypertensive potassium, with one sixth of the daily requirement of this mineral in an 80g serving, which is more than a banana.
New enthusiasm: the huge jackfruit
HOW MEAT, BUT WITHOUT PROTEIN
Comparing jackfruit with other fruits and vegetables is one thing. However, it is quite another thing to put it next to other meat alternatives, and it does not shape well.
While most meat alternatives such as quorn or soy – including tofu – have a protein content of about 15 to 20 percent, which is not far removed from the amounts of meat, fish and poultry, this is not the case for Jackfruit, which is about two Percent protein. Dietitian Helen Bond says, "We need about 50 grams of protein per day, preferably spread over two or three meals to get strong, healthy muscles.
"If you're vegan, you may already be struggling to get enough protein, and I would be worried if people consider jackfruit a suitable meat alternative."
LOW IN CALORIES, SO IT IS GOOD FOR SLIMMERS
While IT is rather bland and can not be written much about nutritional aspects, Jackfruit has far fewer calories than meat or other alternatives. It also has virtually no fat.
If Jackfruit is eaten unadulterated, it provides about 95 calories per 100 g, less than half of pork and more than 50 calories less than the corresponding amount of chicken, making it suitable for slimming.
Low-protein means that a meal prepared with jackfruit is also less filling.
"You can save some calories, but if your appetite is not slowed down, this may not be an advantage," says Bond.
What is actually in jackfruit? Well, mostly water and carbohydrates. There are 25 g of carbohydrates per 100 g, and much of it is sugar, although it is not processed, it does not count for your daily 30 g of sugar.
… BUT REMEMBER TO HEALTHY ADDITIVES
In order to produce a product that fits as a meat dish, jackfruit must also be combined with strong flavors.
"Like most meat alternatives, sauces and spices are needed to make a dish that's interesting and tasty enough to be eaten," says Bond. "That in turn can lead to high levels of sugar, salt and calories."
How do Jackfruit products rate? Take a look at our compilation of some dishes below …
We put Jackfruit dishes in the supermarket on health test (and taste test)
Waitrose Vegetarian Jackfruit Biryani
375 g, £ 3.19
Calories 386; saturated fat 2.5 g; Sugar 10.8 g; Protein 7.9 g; Salt 2.03 g
This low-calorie, rice-based curry provides 57 percent of the recommended daily fiber, and no sugar is added. Jackfruit chunks are impressive fleshy and aromatic, but these contain one third of the protein of a standard chicken curry. The addition of half a can of lentils or chickpeas gives the protein a boost.
Upton's Naturals Thai Curry Jackfruit
Calories 112; saturated fat 2.8 g; Sugar 5.8 g; Protein 2.4 g; Salt 0.78 g
Jackfruit pieces in a thai coconut sauce. Low in calories and no hidden sugar. The jackfruit is partly mushy and the sauce quite tangy. It is not supplied with rice, so you have to add your own. If you look in some beans or chickpeas, the protein replenishes and you feel fuller longer.
Sainsbury's sweet and smoky BBQ pulled jackfruit
350 g, 3 lbs
Pro 175g serving: calories 103; saturated fat trace; Sugar 16.6 g; Protein 2.2 g; Salt 1 g
Jackfruit pieces in a spicy, sweet and sticky sauce. This contains a fraction of the meat protein. However, it is also much less saturated fat. There are four teaspoons of sugar per serving – but that's the price you pay for good BBQ. Filled in a pulled "pork bun", you might think it was the right one.
Pizza Express Vegan Puttanesca Romana Pizza
Pizza in the restaurant, £ 14.30. Calories 844; saturated fat 12.7 g; Sugar 14.6 g; Protein 26.2 g; Salt 7g
Pizza with jackfruit in a tomato, olive caper sauce and vegan mozzarella on an extra thin base. Low in calories and the cheese (fad) provides half of the daily protein requirement. High salt content with a full-time tip. Jackfruit is mushy, textureless and tasteless. Not very nice.
Waitrose Vegan Hoisin Jackfruit packet
287 g, £ 4.79
Per half-package: calories 206; saturated fat 0.7 g; Sugar 12.5 g; Protein 7.6 g salt 1.33 g
Jackfruit, Edamame beans, crushed carrots and chicken sauce, preserved in filo pastry. Low saturated fats and calories for a main meal, but also low in protein and with three teaspoons of sugar, mainly added. Jackfruit lacked texture or bite – just a sweet, goopy paste. Disappointing.