Breadfruit, Please!

Have you ever heard of ‘breadfruit? It’s a rather strange name for a fruit that seems it may look like bread. Instead, like jackfruit, it’s a member of the mulberry family. A breadfruit (Artocarpus altiris) tree thrives in tropical climate and can grow up to 85 feet, producing up to 200 fruits yearly. The fruit is round or oval and can grow as big as a volleyball. The outer skin is neon green and covered in bumps, which hides the firm flesh that is cooked like potatoes.

A single breadfruit yields enough fruit to feed a family of four. When the fruit is ripe, the interior is creamy white or yellow and soft. Despite being a fruit, it’s used as a vegetable, with texture and taste resembling a potato or a grainy piece of bread, depending on the ripeness of the fruit and how it’s prepared. It can be eaten boiled, baked and fried. Its flesh can also be dried and ground into flour to make chapatis/rotis or else, baked to make soft bread! Because the taste is bland, it lends itself to culinary creativity. Also known as ‘Bakri Chajhar’ in Hindi and ‘Nirphanas’ in Marathi, it’s also a delicacy of the Konkan region.

The highly nutritious breadfruit can be consumed regularly without any ill effects. Its flesh is high in antioxidants, calcium, carotenoids and fiber. It also contains copper, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus and protein. Interestingly, although it’s a fruit, one cup provides 5% of the recommended RDA for protein, 14% of magnesium and 31% of potassium! Scientific studies support the use of breadfruit as part of a healthy, nutritionally balanced diet. Flour produced from breadfruit is a gluten-free, low glycemic index, nutrient-dense and complete protein option for modern foods. Breadfruit is rich in fiber, providing relief from diabetes. Research has also established that its regular intake can reduce the risk of diabetes and keep it under control by reducing the absorption of sugar from food, in the human body. In fact, it could very well be considered a super food for diabetics, in particular.

As a practice, I recommend Diabetics to keep away from wheat and dairy. When asked what can we substitute for our ‘rotli’ and bread with, my response has always been nachni/ragi and jowar flour mix. I would suggest adding breadfruit flour to the mix for added benefits. You could potentially substitute wheat flour (maida) for breadfruit flour, in baked breads and homemade rotlis/chapatis. Gluten intolerance is on the rise and Diabetics would greatly benefit by staying gluten free. Gluten intolerance triggers signs of gastrointestinal distress, including bloating, diarrhea and belly pain. Beyond this, one could experience anxiety, confusion, headache, nausea or joint and muscle pain.

Although gluten-free food options seem like they help people with wheat allergy or celiac disease, it’s prudent to adopt a cautious approach. Most processed, packaged gluten-free foods are glorified junk foods as these are ultra-processed foods, lacking fiber, and often loaded with toxic amounts of sugar, salt and include unhealthy trans-fats. Immaterial of your sensitivity to gluten, nearly everyone can benefit by consuming minimum amounts of gluten. Usage of breadfruit flour in baked produce also helps reduce your exposure to gluten and the glycemic index of the foods you eat.

The benefits of eating enough fiber include preventing leaky gut syndrome that also triggers anxiety, joint pain, fatigue and bloating. Let me simplify leaky gut syndrome for PT readers: The wall of the intestine is considered semi-permeable. This means it only allows certain things to enter the bloodstream and blocks other things from entering the bloodstream. For instance, specific molecules and nutrients are allowed to pass through, but toxins and large undigested food particles are blocked. When you have leaky gut, the pores in your small intestine widen and this allows undigested food particles and toxins, that would normally be blocked, to enter your bloodstream. These particles and toxins aren’t recognized and the immune system goes into attack mode because they are not supposed to be in the blood. In essence, the immune system literally recognizes these undigested particles as dangerous.

Fiber has other health benefits as well. For example, researchers have found an inverse relationship between fiber and heart attack, showing those eating a high fiber diet have a 40% lower risk of heart disease. Fiber also delays brain inflammation and aging. Low fiber diets can be especially harmful to seniors as they have a lower ability to produce butyrate, a nutrient that helps delay brain aging. Being rich in fiber, breadfruit is also an excellent energy booster. It gives the fullness of eating without increasing the calorie intake, making you feel energetic and active. It also reduces the risk of heart disorder and bad cholesterol, while inducing the good cholesterol in the body.

A rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, breadfruit helps maintain a healthy heart. Regular intake of breadfruit for growing children greatly contributes to their brain development. Its healthy fats prove beneficial for skin and hair problems too. Regular intake also helps proper bowel movement and intestine functionalisms; its fiber helps pass stool and drain out toxins from the intestine. Breadfruit is the ideal diet food for overweight people, as it low-calorie and high-fiber, helping the body fight the body fats and cellulites.

So now, my Parsi Times readers can add one more super food in their health basket!

Dr. Danesh Chinoy
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