Healthy diets don’t change over time—but some food and ingredient trends are continually changing. As health professionals, our clients expect us to have all the answers when it comes to the latest food trends. To keep you in the know, we are offering updates on "ingredients in the news." This issue’s featured ingredient: the versatile jackfruit.
Perhaps surprisingly, this “pulled pork” sandwich contains no meat, but is made with jackfruit. This plant-based barbecue is making a splash on social media along with the increasing popularity of vegetarian and vegan meals. So what is jackfruit? And can it replace meat in recipes?
An “Easy Win” for Diet Quality!
Substituting jackfruit for meat is a creative way to increase fruit intake, a key component of a healthy diet pattern. Unripe jackfruit, often sold canned, has the look of pulled pork and a “meaty” texture when cooked. While the exact nutrient content of jackfruit varies by ripeness and product, its high volume to calorie ratio makes it easier to eat mindful portions. Additionally, the fiber content can make this fruit low in “net carbs” and potentially appealing to people eating low-carbohydrate or paleo-style diets.*
Additional Protein May Be Required: Though jackfruit is touted as a replacement for meat, the fruit is low in protein (fewer than 3 grams per 100 grams of jackfruit). Adding beans, lentils, or lean meat or dairy to meals featuring the fruit can boost the protein content. Conversely, jackfruit could be a good option for those who require diets lower in protein.
How to Incorporate Jackfruit
To obtain the most “meat-like” qualities, recipes require unripe (also called “young” or “green”) jackfruit. One popular option is to create jackfruit tacos by adding a Mexican simmer sauce to 1 lb of drained, rinsed jackfruit in a skillet. Cook on stovetop until the jackfruit is easy to pull apart and the seasoning is absorbed. (One helpful hint is to break up the jackfruit using a potato masher.) Serve alongside traditional taco fixings and warm tortillas.
*Note: The sugar and starch content of a jackfruit changes as the jackfruit ripens and nutrition facts vary significantly by brand and method of preparation. Always advise clients to check the food label for the most accurate information. Calories and fiber can vary from 21-95 calories, and 1.5-3.6 g fiber per 100 g respectively canned in brine or fresh.
Disclaimer: Conagra Nutrition does not provide medical advice. Information is intended for educational purposes only. For specific nutrition guidance, please consult your regular healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.