Should people suffering from diabetes have jackfruit aka kathal?

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Diabetes is a chronic and lifestyle disorder and it can lead to multiple health issues. It occurs when the body’s ability to produce or respond to insulin is compromised, thereby, leading to elevated levels of glucose in the blood. Albeit, with an appropriate diet and healthy lifestyle choices, it can be easily managed. If you’ve also been diagnosed with diabetes, there’s several contradictory views about what you should eat or not, and one such food that has the same reputation for diabetic people is jackfruit, or what most of us know as kathal.

What are the benefits of jackfruit or kathal?

Jackfruit is popularly called vegan meat and it is an exotic fruit. It comes with a lot of benefits.But in India, which is touted as the global capital of diabetes, it is debated whether to include it in the diet or not.

“Jackfruit is made of phytonutrients namely lignans, saponins, isoflavones and antioxidants present which have anti-cancer, anti-ulcer, antihypertensive, antiaging and immunity boosting properties adding to its benefits. Recent studies show that it is effective in the treatment of colon cancer as the insoluble fibre present in jackfruit functions as a bottle brush to rinse and purify the intestines in order to prohibit colon cancer,” Sharanya Shastry, Chief Clinical Nutritionist, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Bengaluru, told Health Shots.

It’s time to make the most of jackfruit for its many health benefits. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Can jackfruit be consumed by people suffering from diabetes?

“Jackfruit, when consumed as a whole, is known to increase blood sugar levels and therefore, it’s not really a go-to option for those who are suffering from diabetes. However, research and a few studies have shown that jackfruit seeds, which are micro-nutrient rich and have beta carotene epoxide, phytosterols and flavonoids, are known to induce insulin secretion and keep blood sugar under control. However, the exact compound behind it is unknown,” Shastry added.

Also, read: Planning to conceive? Don’t miss out on consuming jackfruit for its fertility benefits

To say the least, jackfruit or kathal, when consumed from a home garden, is not harmful because it’s not adulterated or it doesn’t elevate your blood sugar levels. The same jackfruit which is canned or processed and treated with sweeteners is harmful for diabetes as it contains refined sugar, which is not good for health. Hence, people who are diabetic can have a jackfruit seed chutney or jackfruit seed powder, dry and roasted, which can also be used for smoothies and salads.

Who should not consume jackfruit?

Jackfruit is generally contraindicated for:

  • People with uncontrolled hyperglycemia.
  • Women who are trying to conceive or who are in their first trimester as it is known to induce uterine contractions.
  • For individuals who are allergic to tropical fruits, latex, or birch trees, there are chances of them developing a jackfruit allergy.

Myths and facts about jackfruit for diabetics

  1. Myth – Jackfruit is calorie rich and increases blood sugar levels

Fact – “Time and again, research has proven that our ancient kitchens and cuisines were always right in their concepts of choosing seasonal fruits and local vegetables in their diet.

Jackfruit is rich in fibre and has a lesser glycemic index (60-65), which is actually good for diabetics when consumed at the right time of the day and in the right proportion,” Shastry said.

  1. Myth – No jackfruit at all should be consumed by diabetics
Do NOT consume jackfruit in large quantities. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Fact – Jackfruit as a whole fruit is beneficial in many ways. Jackfruit seeds are known to induce insulin secretion. Thus, include a seed preparation in your diet. Green Jackfruit flour, which is quite popular in the southern region, has been a substitute to rice and wheat flour with lesser calorie and carbohydrate content. This is also good for chronic diabetic people.

What is the right amount of jackfruit that one can consume in diabetes?

Any fruit is naturally sweet due to the presence of fructose and jackfruit is also the same. It is better to have it in the first half of the day (around 11 am-12 noon) and in terms of quantity, it should not be more than anything that fits into your one palm. So, you can have jackfruit seed preparations (powder/chutney) twice/week, and any green jackfruit flour preparation like idli/dosa only once a week.

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