Food & Recipes

This Tasty Tropical Fruit Will Protect Your Liver, Ease Chronic Pain, and Balance Blood Sugar

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When we think about tropical food, sweet things like mangoes and pineapple usually come to mind. However, there’s a savory staple we should all consider adding to our plates more often: breadfruit. 

Breadfruit is grown in warm areas like Hawaii, New Guinea, and Jamaica. Florida is the only place within the continental US that it can thrive in. It looks similar to jackfruit, but has a starchy, flavor similar to potatoes. In fact, one of its most popular uses is as a substitute for spuds. 

One serving (about 100 grams) of sliced breadfruit contains 32 grams of carbs and nearly 6 grams of fiber. That might sound like a lot, but they are complex carbohydrates and break down slower than even those typically found in spuds. This helps make sure our bodies soak up more nutrients, feel fuller longer, and prevent blood sugar spikes. It’s also a lot more fiber than potatoes, making it easier to digest while still boosting gut health. It ranks lower on the glycemic index, too, which is another key to keeping blood sugar balanced. Breadfruit is also roughly the same amount of carbohydrates found in the same amount of white rice, but again, with the added bonus of more fiber and a lower glycemic index.

If that’s not enough to pique your interest, breadfruit is chock full of vitamins and minerals. Each serving has roughly 85 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C per cup and 23 percent of the daily amount of potassium. These nutrients are especially helpful for maintaining bone and muscle strength as we age, keeping blood pressure in check, and shedding a few pounds.

Like other plant-based foods, breadfruit contains a lot of phenolic antioxidants that help fight off bad inflammation. Researchers have found it to be an effective remedy for chronic joint and muscle aches. 

It’s also been used in traditional medicine from Indonesia and Pacific islands as a liver detox. There isn’t much research to back the anecdotal evidence up yet, but some promising animal studies on breadfruit leaves found protective properties for the liver and pancreas. Another recent animal study showed benefits for blood sugar and cholesterol management as well. It would make sense for the fruit itself to provide similar effects. 

Although it may be difficult to find fresh breadfruit outside of the tropical regions where it thrives, you can find canned versions in specialty stores or online (Buy on Amazon, $15.98) which can be mashed or roasted like potatoes. It’s also commonly used as a base for curries, stews, and casseroles, or pureed into dips in Hawaii. 

You can also find it as a gluten-free flour (Buy on Amazon, $12.95) or used in baking mixes (Buy on Amazon, $13.95). Even though it’s dried and ground, you’ll still be able to chow down on all the health perks. And keep an eye out for it popping up more as an ingredient in snacks, like Patagonia’s Aji Molido Breadfruit Crackers (Buy from Patagonia, $7). There are a ton of tasty ways to add this superfood to your daily meals!

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