If you are lucky to get breadfruit in your farmer’s market or grocery store, you must try this tropical treat. It may look unappetizing due to its spiky bright green, football-shaped appearance but it is flavorful, rich in nutrients, and helps fight chronic diseases. Science-backed health benefits of breadfruit include its ability to help manage diabetes, reduce hypertension, aid in digestion, and boost weight loss. It is fast gaining popularity across the world as people get innovative with breadfruit recipes.
What is Breadfruit?
Breadfruit is a prickly, oval fruit that is popular in the Pacific islands and Southeast Asia. The breadfruit tree (Artocarpus altilis), part of the mulberry and jackfruit family (Moraceae), was cultivated almost 3000 years ago. It tastes like a potato but has a chewy texture. When baked or roasted, it smells like freshly baked bread and hence its name!
Serving Size : Nutrient Value Water [g] 70.65 Energy 103 Energy [kJ] 431 Protein [g] 1.07 Total lipid (fat) [g] 0.23 Ash [g] 0.93 Carbohydrate, by difference [g] 27.12 Fiber, total dietary [g] 4.9 Sugars, total including NLEA [g] 11 Calcium, Ca [mg] 17 Iron, Fe [mg] 0.54 Magnesium, Mg [mg] 25 Phosphorus, P [mg] 30 Potassium, K [mg] 490 Sodium, Na [mg] 2 Zinc, Zn [mg] 0.12 Copper, Cu [mg] 0.08 Manganese, Mn [mg] 0.06 Selenium, Se [µg] 0.6 Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg] 29 Thiamin [mg] 0.11 Riboflavin [mg] 0.03 Niacin [mg] 0.9 Pantothenic acid [mg] 0.46 Vitamin B-6 [mg] 0.1 Folate, total [µg] 14 Folate, food [µg] 14 Folate, DFE [µg] 14 Choline, total [mg] 9.8 Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg] 22 Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg] 0.1 Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg] 0.5 Fatty acids, total saturated [g] 0.05 16:0 [g] 0.03 18:0 [g] 0.02 Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g] 0.03 16:1 [g] 0 18:1 [g] 0.03 Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g] 0.07 18:2 [g] 0.05 18:3 [g] 0.02 Threonine [g] 0.05 Isoleucine [g] 0.06 Leucine [g] 0.07 Lysine [g] 0.04 Methionine [g] 0.01 Cystine [g] 0.01 Phenylalanine [g] 0.03 Tyrosine [g] 0.02 Valine [g] 0.05 Sources include : USDA
Breadfruit is rich in complex carbohydrates and high in fiber. According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, 100 grams of the fruit contains 103 calories with almost no fat. It is high in potassium, vitamin C, folate, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, niacin, and thiamine. While it may have low protein levels, the quality of its plant-based protein is very high.
A study published in the Amino Acids journal reveals that it has comparatively higher quality essential amino acid content and protein than other starchy staples such as corn, wheat, potato, and rice. It also contains carotenoids, such as carotene and lutein.
How To Cook Breadfruit?
Breadfruit can be fried, roasted, pickled, marinated, candied, and added to curries. While the nutritious fruit can be cooked in a number of ways, it is best eaten roasted with salt and pepper.
Roasted Breadfruit Recipe
- 1 mature breadfruit
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Choose mature breadfruit with brown patches, instead of a bright green and spiky fruit.
- Soak the fruit in water for 2-5 minutes to remove sticky latex or dirt present on the skin.
- Using a sharp knife, carve out the stem of the fruit. You can coat the knife with oil to make the carving easier.
- Cut an "X" at the bottom of the fruit to allow steam to release when it roasts in the oven.
- Coat the fruit with vegetable oil and bake it in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for one hour. Traditionally, it is cooked over charcoal.
- Allow the baked fruit to cool and peel off the skin with a knife.
- Cut it into half and remove the core pieces.
- Cut the roasted breadfruit into wedges and season it with salt and pepper. Enjoy!
Let us look at the most important proven benefits of this tropical fruit.
Helps in Diabetes Management
Breadfruit has the potential to help manage type 2 diabetes due to its rich nutrient composition, according to a study published in the Trends in Food Science & Technology in 2015. Furthermore, the cooked fruit has a low glycemic index and may help hyperinsulinemia. However, further studies are required to verify this property of the starchy fruit.
A 2016 report published in the Foods journal found that the fruit is an excellent gluten-free food that can be made into flour. Breadfruit flour is economical, which makes it easier on the wallet too. It can be used to make dumplings, porridge, muffins, puddings, and buns. Studies are ongoing to make nutrition bars and pasta using the flour.
Rich in Antioxidants
The fruit has a high level of antioxidants and flavonoids, and research suggests that the fruit pulp has antimicrobial properties, which has the potential to inhibit gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria growth.
Aids Weight Loss
The starchy fruit is an excellent substitute for rice, pasta, potato, or rice, suggests The National Tropical Botanical Garden in Hawaii, US. It is also a high nutrition food that can keep you feeling full, and prevent you from snacking in between meals.
Helps Manage Blood Pressure
Breadfruit, with its high potassium content, has the potential to lower blood pressure. Furthermore, an animal study found that an administration of aqueous extract of breadfruit leaves could be used as an antihypertensive remedy.
The tropical fruit contains a high amount of both, soluble and insoluble dietary fiber that is beneficial in the maintenance of a healthy gut.
The flower is effective in repelling insects and mosquitoes. In the tropics, the latex from the tree is used as a sticky glue. The bark of the tree is used to make fabric for mosquito nets, clothes, and paper. An animal study published in the Journal of Physics showed that the powdered leaves of the breadfruit tree help normalize blood cholesterol levels.
Word of Caution: Care should be taken while handling the mature fruit to avoid the sticky sap. You can use vegetable oil or gloves to protect your hands while handling the fruit. Also, excessive consumption of the fruit can cause gas-formation in the body.