If you've been shopping for groceries recently, you may have noticed a huge, funny-looking fruit in the product section. (At least you think it's a fruit?). It is covered with a thick, green, prickly bark and is more like a medieval weapon than anything you eat.

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Welcome Jackfruit – the sweet ingredient and popular vegan-friendly meat alternative that makes a splash in the health-conscious world. You do not know about this tropical staple food? No sweat. Here's what you can learn about the nutritional and health benefits and how to prepare them. It is not difficult – we promise!

What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit is actually the largest tree fruit in the world – small ones weigh between 10 and 15 pounds and big ones weigh 100 pounds! It is typically grown in South and Southeast Asia.

Depending on the ripeness of the fruit you get different flavors and textures. Young, green jackfruit tastes milder and is ideal for savory dishes. Ripe jackfruit is sweeter and tastes like a combination of mango and pineapple – perfect for desserts and smoothies.

Jackfruit is a good source of carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and fiber and has very little fat. "Jackfruit is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin B6 and fiber. It's basically packed with immunity that boosts vitamins and healthy fiber !, says Theresa Shank, RD, a Philadelphia-based dietician.

A cup of raw jackfruit has 157 calories, 38.3 grams of carbs, 1 gram of fat and 2.5 grams of fiber. "Unlike other fruits, Jackfruit contains almost three times the amount of protein," says Emily Kyle, RD, owner of Emily Kyle Nutrition of Rochester, New York

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Is jackfruit good for you?

It might be too early to say so. "There is not much scientific research to ensure the health benefits that are specifically associated with a jackfruit at the time, given the new popularity," says Kyle. However, Kyle states that there is research to support the health benefits of nutrients and compounds in Jackfruit. "Studies have shown that the antioxidants and fiber found in Jackfruits have beneficial health benefits," she adds.

For example, because of its fiber content, the prickly fruit is considered low glycemic food, which means that it is slowly digested and prevents blood sugar spikes. Antioxidants such as vitamin C can buffer your cells against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation, which can lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Jackfruit is also full of phytonutrients such as isoflavones, carotenoids and flavonoids.

Plus, adopting a more herbal diet is good for you overall, says Kyle. "If you replace some meat in the diet with a herbal alternative like jackfruit, you can take advantage of some of these health benefits," she says.

How to eat jackfruit

"Jackfruit itself is sweet, so it goes well with dishes that are naturally sweet, such as a dish with sweet BBQ sauce," says Kyle. Your favorite recipe? A BBQ Jackfruit Bowl, highlighted in her upcoming cookbook, The 30-minute thyroid cookbook. "It combines a sweet Carolina BBQ sauce with the jackfruit, which is served over quinoa with lots of vegetables for a delicious plant-based meal, "she says.

Other fun ways to try jackfruit? Add some shredded jackfruit to your tacos, sandwich or pizza. Shank says jackfruit is also a good complement to hot cereals, parfaits, stir-fries or salad.

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Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos | Corn tortillas, jalapeno, paprika, coriander, lime. , , In honor of #tacotuesday, I'm re-making my favorite vegan tacos! The filling is a smoky, spicy jackfruit "carnitas" that is made by marinating green jackfruit and then simmering until tender / shredded. Recipe is below (will soon publish a more detailed blog post!). , Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos * 1 tablespoon maple syrup * 2 tablespoons tamari * 1 teaspoon liquid smoke * 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika * 1/2 teaspoon coriander * 1/2 teaspoon caraway * 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder * 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or black ) * 1 can of green jackfruit in water, drained and rinsed thoroughly, with core kernels * 1 tablespoon of water or olive oil * a small onion, finely chopped * 2 cloves garlic, chopped * 1-2 chipotle peppers Adobo sauce, chopped * 1/4 Cup of orange juice * vegetable broth Mix the first eight ingredients in a bowl or a freezer bag and mix well. Add jackfruit pieces and marinate for at least two hours or overnight to get the best flavor. Next, heat oil (or water) in a pan and fry onion and garlic until fragrant and tender (about 5 minutes). Add jackfruit with the marinade and orange juice and enough vegetable broth to barely cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes. Mince jackfruit with a fork or a potato masher, reduce heat and simmer for a further 15 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. (Optional last step: place the jackfruit on a baking sheet and bake at 400F for a few minutes until it is crispy and charred.) Serve tortillas with toppings warm: coriander, lime juice, red onion, jalapeno peppers, cashewcrema, fresh salsa, etc.

A post shared by HANNAH CHE (@hannah__chia)

Jackfruit's claim to celebrity, however, is a vegan-friendly meat alternative. Unlike other vegan protein sources such as nuts and beans, boiled jackfruit has a similar texture to pulled pork or chicken. However, Shank does not say that it actually tastes like meat.

Because jackfruit has a versatile aroma, it is a great ingredient for savory and sweet foods. "It's easy to incorporate into different recipes and take on the flavors of what it suits," says Shank.

The hearty texture of Jackfruits makes it a good meat substitute, but it does not provide the same protein boost as other plant sources of macronutrient. "So if you're longing for Jackfruit carnitas for dinner, make sure the rest of your day contains enough protein," says Shank.

How do you prepare jackfruit?

If you're ready to try jackfruit for yourself, visit your local grocery store or the Asian market. And a good set of kitchen knives at hand! For your information: The fruits can also be sticky.

In this video you will find tips for cutting jackfruit:

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To make it easier for you, take canned or frozen jackfruit in the supermarket. "You've done all the hard work for you, so all you have to do is open, prepare and enjoy the can," says Kyle. When buying canned jackfruit, be sure to choose varieties that are packed in water or your own juices, not sweetened syrup, so you do not consume extra sugar or extra calories. A number of food companies also dive into the world of jackfruit and pack the fruit in a variety of prepared flavors, such as Chilli Lime Carnitas from Upton's Naturals and Thai Curry.

So the next time you go to the grocery store, do not run away from the green fruits. Get some jackfruit and enjoy it with your dishes!



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