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Does your meatless Monday consist of a bowl of mac and cheese? Don’t get us wrong — that comfort food is delicious in reasonable doses. However, if it’s variety you crave, you should consider adding jackfruit to your diet for flavor and some impressive benefits.
This southeast Asian tree produces the largest fruit in the world and may be the hero the world needs as it races to combat climate change. It’s also a champion for human health, with properties that address many of the ailments plaguing modern life.
Why should you add this impressive food to your diet? Here are seven jackfruit benefits you should know before meatless Monday rolls around again.
Why Jackfruit Is Your Meatless Monday Hero
When a rare food promises to address multiple problems, there’s generally a catch. For example, monk fruit makes a delicious sweetener that doesn’t spike your glycemic index, preventing diabetes. However, it starts to decay only hours after harvest, meaning it must be processed in the few locations where it grows, driving up costs for consumers — you can’t have a monk fruit delivered to your house as it would rot before it gets there.
Jackfruit presents no such shipping problems. You can have a whole 40-lb fruit brought to your home if you want, but most consumers prefer to buy a package at the store.
That’s not why jackfruit is the hero America needs, though: it’s the flavor. This plant-based food tastes like pulled pork. The texture isn’t far off, either, having the thick, fibrous consistency of pineapple, letting you shred it like a slow-roasted barbecue.
Why it matters: real meat production accounts for nearly 15% of total carbon emissions. Have you ever wished a device could clean excess carbon from the air? Nature has already invented one. It’s called a tree — and replacing much of our red meat with jackfruit would be a boon for planetary health.
It would also benefit human health. After all, our addiction to ultra-processed convenience foods has created a crisis. Red meat isn’t much better as it is a probable carcinogen in addition to taking a heavy carbon toll.
Millions of Americans walk around with prediabetes, often without knowing it, substantially increasing their disease risk. The typical diet is a nightmare when paired with the health care system and costs. Nearly half of Americans have a chronic illness, and the heart disease rate for those 50 to 75 is almost double that of Europeans in the same age range.
Swapping a half-smooshed fast food burger for a juicy, homemade pulled “pork” sammy seems like a no-brainer now, doesn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of jackfruit for health.
6 Jackfruit Benefits for Health
Why should you eat more of this wonder food, planetary perks aside? Here are seven jackfruit health benefits.
1. Keep Cholesterol in Check
High cholesterol, particularly LDL or the “bad” kind, increases your heart disease risk, and red meat is a considerable contributor with its hefty saturated fat load. Adding jackfruit to your diet helps you reduce or eliminate your consumption.
Furthermore, a 2015 study in rats found that those consuming jackfruit seeds raised their HDL or “good” cholesterol while lowering their LDL. Humans can likewise consume the seeds of this wonder fruit as a snack after using the flesh as meat. When roasted in the oven with a touch of sea salt, they taste like Brazil nuts.
2. Control Your Blood Sugar
Nearly 80% of the 96 million Americans with prediabetes don’t know they’re at risk. Countless citizens skip their annual physicals because of the high cost of health care.
One study showed that those who took jackfruit extract significantly improved their blood sugar levels. Another study in mice found that jackfruit leaf extract improved fasting blood sugar levels and promoted long-term control.
4. Lower Inflammation
Chronic systemic inflammation is both a symptom of and a contributor to multiple chronic diseases. As levels rise, unpleasant symptoms increase.
Jackfruit contains nearly a quarter of your daily recommended dose of vitamin C. This powerful antioxidant is a powerhouse for reducing overall inflammation.
5. Protect Your Heart
Heart disease is the number one killer of men and women worldwide. Reducing saturated fat intake from meat eases the risk.
However, that’s not the only way that jackfruit protects your heart. It’s also rich in fiber to lower cholesterol levels and high in potassium, a mineral that lowers blood pressure.
7. Promote Healthy Skin and Wound Healing
Jackfruit contains antioxidants like vitamins A and C to help promote skin health. One study suggested that it could slow the signs of premature aging.
It could also help your wounds heal more quickly. Another study found that using jackfruit extract helped heal the skin of pigs, which researchers conjecture may be caused by the rich phenols and triterpenoids it contains.
Delicious Jackfruit Pulled Pork Recipe
Are you ready to make jackfruit the headliner of your meatless Monday menu and reap the benefits? Here’s a recipe that will soon become a favorite at all those summer barbecues.
Jackfruit Pulled “Pork”
- 2 20-ounce cans of young, green jackfruit in water or brine.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small diced sweet onion
- 1 cup barbecue sauce
- ½ cup water
- Sriracha to taste
- Salt to taste
Drain and rinse the jackfruit, removing the tough center core portions if desired. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, adding the onion until translucent. Add the jackfruit, barbecue sauce and water, leaving to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
After 20 minutes, shred your jackfruit like pulled pork. Add the Sriracha and salt and cook for at least an additional ten minutes before serving.
If you want a complete vegan meal, serve this meal on a bun with a topping of vegan cole slaw and a side of baked sweet potato fries.
Pro-tip: Switching to a whole-grain or alternative flour bun offers more healthy benefits. Bleached flour absorbs nearly as quickly as sugar and can contain a chemical byproduct that increases health risks.
Are you looking for a way to spice up your meatless Monday? If so, consider giving jackfruit a try for its impressive benefits.
Jackfruit may be the hero the world needs. It grows on a carbon-reducing tree and has an impressive array of benefits for human health. Most importantly, it’s a delicious alternative to pork or beef at your next barbecue.
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