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Ever Wonder What Jackfruit Tastes Like? Here’s Everything You Need to Know About the Trendy Fruit

Plus check out video recipes for mouthwatering jackfruit "pulled pork", jerk jackfruit salad and more

If you spend any time at the grocery store, you’ve probably noticed more jackfruit products popping up lately. From fresh jackfruit in the produce section to canned jackfruit, “pulled pork” jackfruit and jackfruit “nuggets”, it seems everyone is excited about this tropical treat. But what does jackfruit taste like, and why is it suddenly so popular? Here, we explain the taste, how jackfruit boosts your health and a few delicious ways to enjoy it.

What is jackfruit?

Jackfruit is a tropical fruit native to Southern India. “It’s the world’s largest tree-borne fruit,” reveals Matt Herman, an exotic fruit specialist and the curator of special collections at the Naples Botanical Garden in Naples, Florida. “Jackfruits get so huge, that the fruit grows on the trunk instead of the branches of the tree.”

The first time you see jackfruit you may think it looks like something out of science fiction movie. The large fruit is bright lime green, oblong like a rugby ball and covered in tough, bumpy skin. But despite these otherworldly features, jackfruit has several close relatives you’re likely familiar with.

Jackfruit, which has a green color and bumpy skin, growing on the bark of a tree
Aldo Pavan/Getty

“It belongs to the Moraceae plant family,” explains Carmelita Lombera, RDN, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for Consumer Health Digest. “This is the same family that includes figs, mulberries and breadfruit.”

What does jackfruit taste like?

Since jackfruit is increasingly used as a plant-based meat alternative, many folks assume the taste is either bland and needs to be heavily seasoned or that it can only be used to mimic protein. However, the reality isn’t so cut and dry; jackfruit can be sweet or savory.

“When jackfruit is ‘young’ or unripe, it has a very mild flavor with a texture similar to meat,” explains Anna Herby, DHSc, RD, a registered dietitian with a doctorate in health sciences who serves on the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. This allows jackfruit to absorb the taste of other seasonings, making it an ideal plant-based alternative to pulled pork or pulled chicken.

A bun filled with jackfruit "pulled pork" and cabbage on a wooden tray
Jackfruit is perhaps best known for making a tasty plant-based “pulled pork”.Westend61/Getty

But when jackfruit is ripe, Herby says it has “a mildly sweet flavor, like a tropical fruit.” In fact, she says some people compare the taste of ripe jackfruit to a blend of banana, apple and mango. If you find that hard to imagine, Herman says to think back to the first time you had a piece of Juicy Fruit chewing gum. Many people compare the two flavors, which is why ripe jackfruit is so popular in desserts like sorbet, pudding and cakes.

Where to buy jackfruit

Lombera says that while it’s easier to find fresh jackfruit in the produce section at specialty stores like Trader Joe’s or Sprouts, almost every grocery store carries some form of jackfruit in the canned and/or frozen food aisle.

And as Herby adds, “you can usually find jackfruit near the tofu and meat alternatives. This is usually in the refrigerated section next to the fresh produce and bagged salad mixes. There, you will often find spiced and flavored jackfruit, like barbecue jackfruit.”

Another place Herby says you might find the tropical fruit: in the international aisle of the grocery store, where Asian and Hispanic foods are. And if you live in a city with an Asian market, you’ll likely find it there, too. “Asian markets are a great place to look for jackfruit,” Herman says. “There is a good chance your local Asian market will have fresh jackfruit seasonally and they will likely stock canned jackfruit as well.”

How to tell if jackfruit is ripe

Canned and prepared jackfruit comes ready to eat. But if you’re shopping for fresh jackfruit, you want to know how to tell if it’s ripe. Lombera says “unripe jackfruits are green and firm. As the fruit ripens, it turns yellow and softens. Avoid jackfruits with dark brown patches, as they may be overripe. Jackfruit gives off a fruity smell as it ripens, so the scent test is a great way to check if it’s ripe and edible.”

Jackfruit flesh in a bowl and on a table with a green leaf
Flori Vasilescu/Getty

Herman agrees, adding that “a ripe jackfruit will be soft if given a firm squeeze and have a very distinctive smell. I would best describe it as a musky jungle fruit aroma.” In short, look for fresh jackfruit that’s yellow-green, slightly soft and emitting a fruity, tropical aroma.

The benefits of jackfruit + tasty ways to enjoy it

Adding jackfruit to your diet is a fun way to mix up your snacks and meals, and it can also be a boon for your health. Here’s a closer look at some of the biggest health perks jackfruit offers, plus how you can work the fruit into your daily diet.

1. Jackfruit eases constipation

Find yourself feeling backed up more often lately? Constipation affects up to 38% of postmenopausal women due to hormone changes, found a study in Women & Health. Jackfruit to the rescue!

“One cup of raw, sliced jackfruit has about 3 grams of fiber,” Lombera says. That’s 12% of the the 25 grams of fiber women need daily. Fiber is vital for making stool easier to pass and aiding digestion. To boost the benefit, add diced fresh jackfruit to a fiber-packed veggie salad. Or try the flavorful jerk jackfruit salad recipe below.

Related: Docs Say Epsom Salt Eases Constipation — But This Type of Magnesium Works Even Better

2. Jackfruit safeguards your heart

Good news: Eating a heart-healthy diet that includes jackfruit can help keep your ticker strong for years to come. “Jackfruit is high in potassium, which is important for relaxing blood vessels and lowering blood pressure,” Herby says. In fact, a review in the International Journal of Food Science found that jackfruit contains heart-friendly compounds that help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

One easy way to reap the rewards of jackfruit? Turn it into plant-based “pulled pork”. Swapping out meat for heart-smart jackfruit doesn’t just taste delicious, it also protects your ticker with every bite. (See the 8 drinks that lower blood pressure, too.)

Check out the video below for a simple, six-ingredient recipe.

3. Jackfruit tames inflammation

Chronic inflammation can contribute to everything from arthritis to diabetes to heart trouble. To keep levels in check, munch on jackfruit. Herby says jackfruit contains high levels of antioxidants like vitamin C, carotenoids and other phytonutrients. “These neutralize free radicals [harmful, disease-causing molecules] and protect against DNA damage, reducing overall inflammation in the body,” she explains.

Research confirms the anti-inflammatory effects. A study in the Journal of Education and Health Promotion found jackfruit seeds were especially effective at fighting inflammation. And Herman says jackfruit seeds can be cooked and turned into hummus or eaten as a snack. Check out the video below to learn how to cook jackfruit seeds. (See how onion peel tea tames inflammation, too.)

4. Jackfruit bolsters bones

About one in five American women 50 and older have osteoporosis, a degenerative bone disease that increases the risk of fractures. Fortunately, jackfruit can help keep your skeleton strong. “Jackfruit contains important minerals like magnesium,” Herby says. “Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium and prevents bone loss.”

Research backs the bone-building benefits. One study out of Indonesia suggests that jackfruit seed extract increases bone density. And a study in the International Journal of Food Science found that jackfruit flesh supports bone healing and prevents bone loss. To get the benefits, try adding diced jackfruit and other tropical fruits like mango or banana to a smoothie along with a splash of coconut milk. Or check out the easy recipe below that lets the taste of jackfruit itself shine.

Related: Acting Like a Flamingo Strengthens Bones + More MD-Backed Ways to Ward Off Osteoporosis

For more health-boosting fruits:

Hybrid Fruits Are the Trendy Treats Nutritionists Are Raving About — Here’s Why

9 Low-Glycemic Fruits to Consider Adding to Your Diet — Even If You Suffer from Diabetes

Top MDs Reveal the 10 Best Foods to Eat For Gut Health

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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