Perhaps it is time to summon Kerala’s official state fruit to the table—the humble jackfruit, popularised as India’s superfood, it has many benefits. It can boost immunity and lower blood sugar levels. Rich in protein, Vitamin A, C and potassium, its antioxidant properties, high fibre content and low glycemic index make it a healthy snack for diabetes patients and others.
A new study has found that a green jackfruit flour meal improves the defence against diabetes by lowering blood sugar. Presented late last month at the American Diabetes Association (ADA2020) annual conference in Chicago, it showed that the regular consumption of green flour helped in improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetes (T2DM) patients.
Called, ‘A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study to evaluate the glucose-lowering effect of Jackfruit365 green jackfruit flour in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients’, it was done by James Joseph.
He is a long-time brand ambassador of jackfruit and the founder of Jackfruit365. It was co-authored by A Gopal Rao and Sunil Nayak of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences at Srikakulam, Andhra Pradesh. Green jackfruit when prepared as a meal is similar in texture to a mashed potato and is a traditional replacement for cooked rice in Sri Lanka and Kerala. In flour form, green jackfruit is easy to integrate with a variety of daily food such as idli, dosa and upma.
India does not consume sufficient fruits and vegetables, said Joseph, instead it relies on excess refined rice and wheat. “When one spoon of rice or wheat flour is replaced by that of jackfruit, there is a reduction of carbohydrate which is revealed in one’s sugar levels. There is also a decrease in calories, which helps in losing weight. Thirdly, the flour which contains fibre helps largely with bowel movement,” he says.
When a pre-diabetic or diabetic patient arrives at the doctor’s clinic, he is advised medical nutritional therapy which can control blood sugar. “For this, jackfruit is a local solution. It has been clinically proven in our study. We need our healthcare professionals to mention about food that is grown and available nearby,” James adds.
Dr Tom Babu, who heads the Division of Diabetes & Endocrinology at Silverline Hospital in Kochi, affirms the same. “The high-fibre content in jackfruit and the lower glycemic load is not just good for diabetic patients, it also works for cholesterol and obesity patients,” he says.
Goodness at every step
Serbia-based food consultant Simy Mathews vouches for the goodness of jackfruit flour. “Several years ago, I was a contestant on a cooking reality show on a regional channel.
“A chef on the show spoke about the benefits of jackfruit and mentioned that the flour could be used for baking. So my mother dried raw jackfruit and ground it into flour and that’s how I started using the ingredient to bake. I’ve been using it for over five years now. When I first baked a cake with it, the difference was unnoticeable. I now use it in pancakes, cakes, cookies and even to make puttu,” she says.
Underrated back home
Kerala-based food technologist and nutritionist Jeffriya Joby, also the founder of Jo Fitness, stresses that the tropical fruit is largely underrated in easily available countries.
“The properties of jackfruit are such that it can be compared to medicine; every element of the fruit is nutritious. The presence of Vitamin C is an immunity booster. Jackfruits also have cancer-curing properties,” she shares.
The lower glycemic value makes jackfruit flour a perfect for chapattis. “We suggest unripened fruit to diabetes patients,” she says.
Chef Suresh Pillai, Culinary Director, Raviz Group of Hotels, an ardent lover of the fruit, says that of late, Kerala has seen several value-added products of the fruit, ranging from jam to flour. “In earlier times, one jackfruit would suffice for six households,” he says.
Regardless, the fruit is considered more precious to foreigners.
“To a large extent, jackfruit caters to the vegan concept and can be substituted as meat like the soybean. This property has attracted Westerners.
It can also be used to make samosas and fritters. When cooked at the right temperature with meat, it suffices as a wholesome meal. The fruit must be protected at all costs,” says Pillai.
Jackfruit Flour Brownies
- Butter: 250 grams
- Sugar: 2 cups (can substitute with coconut sugar)
- Eggs: 4 large
- Jackfruit flour: 1 cup
- Cocoa powder: 3/4 cup
- Dark chocolate: 220 grams
- Vanilla essence: 2 tsp
- Coffee Powder: 1 tsp
- Salt: 1 tsp
- Chopped nuts: 1 cup
- In a pan, melt butter and dark chocolate together
- Once melted, add sugar, salt, coffee powder and vanilla essence
- Mix well
- Cool the mixture slightly
- Add in the beaten eggs
- Gently fold in the jackfruit flour, cocoa powder and chopped nuts
- Pour into a paper-lined tin and bake at about 180c for 45 minutes
- The brownies will now be rich and fudgy
- Garnish with nuts