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The very virtue of jackfruit, its heady sweetness, has won it the reputation of being a fattening or a sugary fruit. We would rather talk of blueberries and kiwi or say things like an apple a day…for health and weight loss. There is more prestige associated in taking exotic fruits than native ones.

Bangladesh though regards the jackfruit as its national fruit. That apart, our local, native fruit is now being grown by California farmers and is being targeted at the health- and environment-conscious crowds on the West Coast. It’s considered the food of the future, a vegan, gluten-free protein alternative to meat. As a fruit rich in phenolic compounds and antioxidants. As a high-fibre flour with laxative properties that can cure the most constipated of systems. All in all, the usual story – introduce a novel food item from Asia or Africa, adapt it to western taste and peg it on health and wellness and watch it turn red-hot.

The Magic Ingredient

Bala Ganapati, the child form of Ganesha, who bestows youth, exuberance and enthusiasm on all who worship him, carries a jackfruit in his hand for a reason. It’s a fruit that can help improve your insulin sensitivity. Ageing is a natural phenomenon, but loss of energy and enthusiasm is not. That’s caused by insulin resistance, a condition where your cells don’t receive the nourishment that’s their due, causing them to shrink and eventually wither away.

The enthusiasm for jackfruit in the health food segment stems, among many other reasons, from its ability to improve insulin sensitivity associated with sustainable weight loss and regulation of blood sugars. This special quality of the jackfruit may be due to a number of factors – the insulin-mimicking from its minerals, the improved metabolism from its vitamins, the slow release of blood sugars from its fibres or simply from the joyful state of mind that the jackfruit can put you in. Insulin resistance happens to be the key reason for irregular periods and ovulation, and can lead to infertility. And this is why this overlooked fruit may be your secret weapon to getting pregnant.

How to Eat It

There are multiple ways you can use the jackfruit. Here are some:

Leaves Idlis and dosas are wrapped in jackfruit leaves in some regions. The phytonutrients enhance the flavour of the idli–dosa and the minerals help boost your immune system.

Raw jackfruit Forget all the talk of beef being the poor man’s protein source; raw jackfruit is the real deal: India’s very own mock-meat even before it became fashionable to mock meat or go vegan. Phanas or kathal sabzi is a delicacy in every region of India. It is a storehouse of nutrients and especially good for fighting bloating and restoring hormonal balance. Also used to make pure veg biryanis where the raw jackfruit takes on the delicious flavours and aromas of the original meat biryani.

Ripe jackfruit There are mainly two varieties of jackfruit, the one with hard bulbs called kapa and the slimy one called barka. Both have their own fan base. I belong to the kapa team. There is no fruit sweeter or more regal-looking than jackfruit bulbs. A storehouse of antioxidants that can fight carcinogens and with fibres that maintain a diverse ecosystem of gut-friendly bacteria, the jackfruit is like the anti-ageing insurance that you cannot afford to miss on. It’s great for maintaining the health of the colon and gall bladder too.

Jackfruit seeds When you eat the fruit, save the seeds and sun-dry them. Later you can boil or roast them or make atta out of them. Rich in vitamin B, they possess an enviable amino acid profile. A popular way to eat them is like an usal or a dal and have it with rice, garnished with coconut. There isn’t a more exotic way to get a complete meal than this. The UN declared 2016 as the year of pulses essentially to bring these kind of lost and forgotten seeds back in focus. Do your bit, eat the jackfruit seed this year. And don’t forget this – if you have been on too many diets and troubled all your organs, this is what you need to heal.

Chips, papad and flattened sweet rotis At various stages the jackfruit can be turned into chips that you have with coffee, papad to have with dahi rice, and sweet rotis to have like a mid-afternoon snack. Each one has a distinct flavour, unique nutritional values and is delicious to taste. Sab kuch hai, bas marketing ki kami hai;)

Thorny outer shell This would go to the cattle at home because it improves the quality of milk that cows produce, and it is especially given to nursing or pregnant cows. The only thing that you have got to be careful about is the beam that runs across the fruit, which needs to be discarded. The beam can be used as manure but not as food for cattle as it could mess with their heads and even lead to madness.

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