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The jackfruit tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) produces the largest known edible fruit in the world and is part of the mulberry or fig family (Moraceae). All parts of the jackfruit (seed, leaf, pulp, root bark, and stems) have been studied extensively for their antioxidant, anticancer, and anti-bacterial properties. Keep reading to learn about the benefits and side effects of jackfruit.

Introduction

jackfruit

Jackfruit, also known as jack tree, fenne, or sometimes simply jack, is related to breadfruit and originated in India. It is part of the mulberry or fig family and is currently found in tropical and subtropical regions worldwide including Southeast Asia, Africa, and Brazil [R, R].

The jackfruit fruit contains fleshy bulbs and starchy seeds, both of which are used as food. This tree produces the highest yield and largest known edible fruit (average weight of 10 kg) than any other fruit tree species [R, R].

Jackfruit is rich in phytonutrients such as phenols and flavonoids and has been studied for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, anticancer, and antidiabetic qualities [R, R, R, R, R, R].

Components

Jackfruit pulp has many valuable micronutrients including [R]:

Raw jackfruit flesh is regarded as a good source of carbohydrates. A 100 g portion of ripe jackfruit flesh has 94 calories, 23 g carbohydrate, and 1.5 g fiber. This fiber content is believed to contribute to the jackfruits’ relatively low blood sugar response when compared to sugar and other tropical fruits [R, R, R].

One 100 g portion of jackfruit flesh can provide up to 25% of the recommended daily amount of niacin (vitamin B3), a key vitamin in energy production, nerve function, and hormone production [R].

The jackfruit seed can be boiled or roasted and preserved in syrup like chestnuts, or ground into a meal and blended with wheat flour. The pulp and seed are often ground together into a meal commonly eaten in Sri Lanka [R, R].

Mechanism of Action

Jackfruit extracts and isolated flavonoids reduce inflammation in cells by decreasing mediators of inflammation (COX-1 and 2, nitric oxide, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) [R, R, R].

Extracts from jackfruit suppress cancer growth by selectively increasing programmed cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells. Apoptosis is increased by:

  • Activating enzymes (caspase) involved in apoptosis [R, R]
  • Preventing cell division of the cancer cell cycle [R]
  • Changing the cancer cell’s structure and shape [R]
  • Decreasing enzymes that influence cancer cell reproduction, survival, and movement [R]

Lectins from jackfruit stimulate cells to eliminate harmful fungi and prevent widespread fungal infections. This immune response occurs by the lectins increasing production of inflammatory cytokines (IL-12) which then increases white blood cells at the site of infection [R].

Health Benefits

1) Jackfruit May Benefit Diabetes

In a pilot trial, jackfruit leaf extracts taken as a tea (20g/kg body weight) improved blood sugar tolerance in normal and diabetic patients [R].

Treatment of healthy and diabetic rats with jackfruit leaf or stem bark extracts lowered fasting blood sugar levels, improved tolerance to sugar, and/or increased blood insulin levels. This antidiabetic activity was due to the high flavonoid content in the jackfruit extracts [R, R, R, R].

Jackfruit leaf extracts had more potent antidiabetic activity than tolbutamide and glibenclamide, 2 drugs used in the treatment of type 2 diabetes to stimulate insulin release [R, R].

In the lab and in rat blood, jackfruit extracts stopped enzyme activity linked to starch breakdown, suggesting the use of jackfruit for blood sugar control [R].

Plant flavonoids, like quercetin, are present in large amounts in both the jackfruit leaf and seed and are likely responsible for the fruit’s antidiabetic activity [R].

2) Jackfruit Fights Cancer

Phenols, flavonoids, and lectins in the jackfruit are the most promising compounds to protect against and kill cancer cells. These phytochemicals are produced in the jackfruit fruit, peel, seeds, and wood [R, R, R].

Phenol-rich extracts from the wood of the jackfruit tree increased programmed cell death (apoptosis) in breast, liver, and lung cancer cells [R].

The pulp from jackfruit was protective against gene mutations and reduced rapid growth of mouse cancer cells [R].

Colon Cancer

Jacalin, a lectin extracted from jackfruit seeds, reduced precancerous lesions in mice with early stages of colon cancer [R].

Flavonoids extracted from jackfruit seeds were toxic to human colon cancer cells by selectively inducing apoptosis [R].

Leukemia

Lectins extracted from jackfruit seeds increased apoptosis and reduced the growth of cancer cells in leukemia cells lines [R, R].

Breast Cancer

Extracts from jackfruit wood were selectively toxic to human breast cancer cells by increasing apoptosis and altering the shape of the cancer cells [R].

Prostate Cancer

In the lab, flavonoids extracted from jackfruit twigs reduced growth and multiplication of human prostate cancer cells [R].

Liver Cancer

Lectins extracted from jackfruit seeds protected mice against liver cancer by blocking cell cycle and increasing apoptosis in cancer cells [R].

Throat Cancer

Jackfruit extracts were toxic to throat cancer cells in the lab by changing cell structure and increasing apoptosis in cancer cells [R].

Lung Cancer

In the lab, several flavonoids extracted from jackfruit twigs reduced activity of human lung cancer cells as measured by a decrease in growth of cancer cells [R].

3) Jackfruit Combats Pathogens

bacteria

Bacteria

Extracts from the root bark, pulp, leaves, and stems of jackfruit have broad-spectrum antibacterial activity against numerous gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. These bacteria include those causing tooth decay (Streptococcus mutans), strep throat (Streptococcus pyogenes) as well as foodborne pathogens (Listeria and Salmonella species) [R, R, R, R, R].

Both jackfruit leaf and shell extracts inhibited the growth of food-borne pathogens including, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes, and Staphylococcus aureus. This activity was strongest in shell extracts, likely because of their higher flavonoid content [R, R].

Flavonoids from jackfruit wood (artocarpin) slowed the growth of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli bacteria in the lab. The flavonoids also enhanced the antimicrobial activities of several synthetic antibiotics (tetracycline, ampicillin, and norfloxacin) likely by altering the membrane permeability of the bacteria [R, R].

In the lab, extracts from jackfruit latex slowed the growth of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacteria associated with antibiotic resistance [R].

Two flavonoids extracted from jackfruit leaves reduced the growth of bacteria linked to the formation and progression of tooth decay (Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis) [R].

Viruses

Jacalin, a jackfruit lectin, blocked human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection of immune system cells by binding to the surface of CD4, an immune cell and known receptor for the HIV [R, R].

In the lab, jackfruit extracts suppressed 2 herpes viruses (herpes simplex 2 and varicella-zoster) and the rare cytomegalovirus [R].

Fungus

In the lab, lectins extracted from jackfruit seeds slowed the growth of three fungi (Fusarium moniliforme, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Paracoccidioides brasiliensis). The lectins stimulated an immune response by increasing inflammatory cytokines (IL-12), which killed the invading fungus [R, R].

Parasites

Jackfruit lectins increased the elimination of the parasite Leishmania major from human white blood cells (neutrophils). The lectins increased mediators of cell inflammation (TNF-α and IL-1β), pancreatic enzymes (elastase), and elevated antimicrobial activity in the cells [R].

Yeast

Purified enzymes extracted from jackfruit inhibited the growth of Candida albicans, a harmful yeast common in the human gut [R].

4) Jackfruit Has Antioxidant Effects

Three flavonoid antioxidants extracted from jackfruit reduced fat breakdown in rat brains by scavenging free radicals [R].

The antioxidant activity of jackfruit is linked to its phenolic and flavonoid content. These compounds are high in the jackfruit peel but also present in the fruit pulp, roots, twigs, and leaves [R, R, R, R, R, R, R, R].

According to several studies, the high vitamin C, phenol, and flavonoid content of the jackfruit is correlated with its protective effects against free radicals involved in the development of diseases such as cancer [R, R, R].

5) Jackfruit May Reduce Inflammation

Jackfruit peel extracts inhibited the COX-1 inflammatory mediator in rats in a way that was comparable to the standard anti-inflammatory drug, diclofenac [R].

In the lab, jackfruit peel extracts and isolated flavonoids inhibited mediators (COX-1 and 2, nitric oxide, IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α) associated with inflammation and septic shock. The level of anti-inflammatory activity in the jackfruit peel extracts was similar to diclofenac, a standard anti-inflammatory drug [R, R, R, R].

6) Jackfruit Is a Natural Anticoagulant

In mice, jackfruit seed extracts delayed blood clot formation by reducing blood clot promoters, epinephrine, and collagen [R].

In the lab, purified enzymes (proteases), seed extracts, and latex derived from jackfruit reduced blood clotting. This suggests a potential use in the treatment of disorders related to obstructed blood flow from clots (strokes, lung embolisms, and deep vein thrombosis) [R, R, R].

7) Jackfruit May Improve Immune Function

Jackfruit seed lectins increased white blood cells (mast cells) in the bone marrow of rats, suggesting a role for this extract in stimulating immune response [R].

Lectins from jackfruit seed activated an immune response against introduced pathogens by stimulating white blood cell production (mast cells and neutrophils) and increasing inflammatory cytokines (IL-17) in the lab and in rats [R, R, R].

8) Jackfruit May Help Heal Wounds

Jackfruit leaf extracts had the same wound healing activity as a pharmaceutical grade antiseptic cream (Betadine) in healthy mice [R].

Out of 98 plant extracts tested in the lab, jackfruit showed the greatest potential for wound healing activity as measured by its ability to increase prostaglandin-2 levels, an important hormone-like molecule that accelerates wound healing [R].

9) Jackfruit Can Help Maintain Bone Health

Flavonoids extracted from jackfruit roots reduced an enzyme (cathepsin K) involved in the breakdown of bone and cartilage, suggesting its application for bone-related disorders like osteoporosis [R].

Natural pectin derived from jackfruit peel was biologically compatible with collagen and tissue stem cells, and may be useful in bone grafting [R].

10) Jackfruit May Improve Digestion

The high fiber content in jackfruit pulp may help prevent constipation and support healthy bowel movements [R].

Jackfruit seed contains prebiotic fibers that may support growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system [R].

11) Jackfruit May Decrease the Risk of Heart Disease

Jackfruit leaf extracts decreased total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides, and increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in type 2 diabetic mice. This was likely due to the high content of antioxidant flavonoid in the extracts, specifically quercetin [R].

12) Jackfruit Leaves May Improve Oral Health

teeth

In the lab, 2 flavonoids extracted from jackfruit leaves reduced the growth of bacteria linked to the formation and progression of tooth decay (Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis) [R].

Side Effects

There may be a higher likelihood of a jackfruit allergy if a birch pollen or latex allergy is present. This is because of the similarity of allergens present in jackfruit, natural latex, and pollen [R, R, R].

Lectins extracted from jackfruit seeds can stimulate the immune system. This could negatively impact patients with tissue transplants or immunosuppression therapy [R].

Although not well studied in humans, jackfruit may impact blood coagulation and should be used with caution in people with blood disorders [R].

Although not studied in humans, jackfruit may inhibit libido, sexual arousal, sexual vigor, and sexual performance in men [R].

Limitations and Caveats

Most of the benefits of jackfruit were only studied in animals and cells. While the findings are significant, these benefits may or may not apply to humans, and these extracts need to be further evaluated for effects, optimal dose, long-term safety, and potential side effects.

Drug Interactions

No drug interactions have been documented.

Natural Sources

Ripe jackfruit fruit is sweet and eaten raw. It can be added to smoothies or mixed with yogurt or ice cream. Seeds can be roasted or boiled like chestnuts or turned into flour.

Unripe jackfruit is eaten more like a vegetable or meat substitute and is canned in water, brine, or pre-made sauces found at your local grocery store or online. It is commonly used in curries and vegan dishes like pulled ‘pork’ and tacos.

Jackfruit leaf tea made from the leaves is readily available from suppliers.

Dosage

Information is lacking about the safest or most effective dose of jackfruit.

A tea preparation of jackfruit leaves equivalent to 20 grams per kilogram body weight taken orally lowered blood sugar levels in both healthy and diabetic adults [R].

User Experiences

Several users found canned, unripe jackfruit to be a versatile, plant-based substitute for meats due to its chewy and sinewy texture. However, one user found jackfruit as a pulled ‘pork’ substitute lacked the fattiness of animal meat.

One user was happy not only with the consistency but also with the ease of use of jackfruit flesh. They also loved how fast it took to make a vegan version of pulled pork.

Some users found the flavor of jackfruit to be similar to mushrooms and artichokes.

Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick

At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.

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4 COMMENTS

  • Angie Craig

    Licorice Root , in general , is an oral anesthetic and kills oral pain for up to four months. It may be made into an unsweet tea to be used as a mouthrinse to help or Licorice Root may be chewed. I know this to all be fact via experience. The Native Americans use or have used Licorice Root for many, many moons , as they would put it. I used to have direct access to the Cherokee Nation Stores that sold this stuff. But I lost track of the Friend I got the goods from. The Roots are Black.

  • Moosakutty Thandthulan

    how to use jack leaves to make tea?. Raw leaves, ripen or dried?. I am the south indian and we have plenty of jack trees and fruits, our animal feeds mostly jack leaves and fruit peels.

  • Sue Zen

    I am going to try jackfruit.. wasn’t sure how it impacted blood coagulation negatively…not enough or too much?

  • Andrea Simms

    Hi there,
    I just wanted to know about the benefits of black licorice plant and white licorice plants as herbs or as tea. Do you have any info on this?

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